Gerry Sutcliffe, employment relations minister, DTI
Gearing up for the new Information and Consultation rules will be a challenge for employers in 2005. For the first time, employees have to be informed and consulted, on an ongoing basis, about matters that affect them when more than 10 per cent of the workforce demand such a procedure. Effective two-way communication is always important because a 'no surprises' culture makes it easier to introduce change and helps employees to make the most of their potential at work.
The new rules mean that some employers should be reviewing consultation arrangements and others will need to introduce them. We allowed a great deal of flexibility in the rules for individually-tailored arrangements. It is now up to the employers, in agreement with their employees, to work together and make the most of it.
Skills and training
Susan Anderson, HR director, CBI
Skills are the priority for employers in 2005. If the UK is to become a truly knowledge-based economy and remain competitive, it must have a highly skilled workforce. Employers are doing their bit, investing £23.5bn a year in training, but there needs to be a focus on raising rudimentary skills. Too many adults lack basic literacy and numeracy skills and education reform is needed to ensure young people leave school literate, numerate and with a positive attitude to work. We need an action plan from the government to improve basic skills attainment in schools, complement the national training programme and help those in work.
John Philpott, chief economist, CIPD
2005 will be an overall decent year for the UK economy. After a brisk start, the pace of economic growth will gradually slow. Consumers will cut back on spending as the housing market cools, while exporters will be squeezed by the impact of a weak dollar on the eurozone countries. Despite this, continued strong government spending, plus higher business investment, will keep the economy strong enough to avoid a rise in unemployment.With the jobs market staying tight, employers will be under even greater pressure to contain wage bills. HR can expect another busy 12 months.
Delivery and engagement
Duncan Brown, assistant director general, CIPD
CIPD's latest research paints a positive picture of a f