The Spring Budget 2017 – A Strategic Approach To UK Talent Creation

A closer look at the Spring Budget 2017 and how it implicates talent creation and management in the UK.

Whilst yesterday’s budget was relatively low key, providing timescales for previously determined changes and detailing principles to be further consulted upon. Chancellor Philip Hammond did have some key announcements for the HR industry.  Part 4 focused on the UK’s productivity and the educational mechanisms to increase the same.  If all these policies are fully implemented, the routes to work for young people will fundamentally change in the next 10 years.  HR professionals, particularly those with a learning and development specialism, should take keen note.

Mind the skills gap

Whilst it has been a decade since the infamous Leitch report and the sorry state it paints of the UK’s skills gap, in the last ten years policy making has been often focused elsewhere.  Yesterday saw announcements centred around the education sector with a huge push towards closing the gap on productivity that the UK experiences in comparison to Germany and France.  Key strategies in how education is delivered, financed and focused were announced.


Adopting a number of the recommendations from Lord Sainsbury’s recent report, the creation of a focused technical education for 16-19 years was announced.  T-levels, to sit alongside A-levels, as the unified and alternative route to qualification, with similar gravitas and status, are the government’s answer.  The focus was on sector specific routes to employment, enhanced options for young people and the creation of highly skilled workers for the global market.


Chancellor Hammond announced the creation of doctorate maintenance loans to enable the continuation of individual development and research at the highest level. Student finance is to be extended further to part time, higher education students and those taking technical learning routes. This will create more development opportunities at the highest levels of academic and technical learning, available to a wider range of talented individuals.

Access to selective schools

This creation of high calibre, educational opportunities, based on ability not background, was bore out with further extension to access to selective schools to those pupils from poorer households.  The provision of free transport to selective schools, for pupils already receiving a welfare provision that identifies a greater need, was detailed; along with a narrative around a meritocratic focus to schooling.

Life-long talent development

Yesterday also saw money set aside for two initiatives to develop and retain talent once such individuals are either within the UK workforce, or of working age.  Pilot schemes for life-long learning projects were announced, along with money to develop support for those returning to work after a career break.  When this is considered alongside a commitment to tax free childcare for families with children under twelve, the focus on retaining female talent in the UK workforce was clear.  This, along with the upcoming gender pay gap reporting requirements due in April, highlights a direction of travel from the government and one that HR should remain alert to.  It is predicted that private industry will be expected by the government to build strategies for the retention of female talent, with HR being the key stakeholder in this initiative.

HR’s role

The future influx in the labour market of highly skilled young people, with industry specific qualifications and experience, will be great news for those HR professionals tasked with recruiting and resourcing, particularly in the high-tech industries.  Further announcements around the funding and creation of increased R&D activity bolster this good news. However, whilst this prediction of a flip in labour market elasticity is great for employers, HR will still need to make sure they have strategies in place to ensure that they remain attractive to this new wave of highly skilled talent.