30 January 2008

I was astounded this week as a colleague of mine told me how he had walked into his bank, queued at the counter for customer service only to be told that he should use the telephone in the corner. He was promptly connected to India.

That a person can go to a bank filled with workers, request to speak to somebody and be told to phone another country is simply astonishing.

I have always thought of myself as a national businessman with a local work ethic. I believe in family values, which is why I recruit staff on personality as well as on skill and why there are one or two of my relatives working in the office.

As a businessman I thoroughly believe in supporting the local community, which is why UKFast spends time in schools and invests in open days for local students.

Many of our staff members come from the three universities in the surrounding area- Manchester, Manchester Met and Salford, as well as further afield. Because we have access to so many skills right on our doorstep, I have never needed to outsource to other countries to find talented employees.

In fact, outsourcing is something I feel very strongly about. I have personally considered moving banks in order to find one which is solely based in the UK for the benefit of both staff and customers.

I am not against hiring people from other countries. Currently in my employment are people from America, China and many other countries. However, outsourcing work is of little benefit to the British economy or local community.

I do recognise there is a general skills shortage in the UK, and some areas do suffer as educated graduates generally migrate London-wards. I find the key is to create a company atmosphere in which employees want to work. Team building activities and office surrounds contribute to higher retention rates.

On the other hand, I would definitely consider seeking products from other countries as buying directly from China, for example, can reduce costs massively. This compares to buying from Britain, produce which has already been imported from China and had the cost hiked up.

People however, are not products. They should not be hired and fired because of expense, but employed for skill and contribute to the business community and its local economy.

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