James Mayes

Blog: Channel 4’s Global Talent Drain debate

In Conference, Recruitment on October 14, 2011 at 1:49 pm

Channel 4 have long taken Talent to be a serious matter, both at a macro and global level.  Last night’s event was focussed very much on the latter and I was delighted to attend.  As is often my habit, I live-tweeted some highlights under the #4TGTD stream.  I’d also like to share a few thoughts here.

First up, the opening keynote – a data heavy piece from Denis McCauley of the Economist Intelligence Unit.  Based on a significant survey of 60 countries globally, key points included:

  • For both now and on 2015 forecast, the USA is the best equipped country in Talent terms.  Denis rooted this largely with the great University system in place in the US, though was later challenged on whether High School / College standards were slipping
  • The UK is reasonably placed at 12th for 2011 and 14th for 2015 (of the total 60) – but China shows the biggest overall improvement in it’s score.
  • The business concern warranting most attention was that of soft skills – particularly creative minds and problem solving.

Channe4 Talent

From here, the panel took on the challenge – Rachel Denning of Time Warner, Frank Douglas of Misys, Veera Johnson of Templewood, Stephen Barden (exec coach) and Annabel Parsons of Heidrick & Struggles. Chair was Robin Bew, Chief Economist at EIU. Among the many topics covered, some of my personal favourites:
  • Attitude is more important than skills, especially if creative minds are your target
  • Bringing in Talent by acquiring whole companies. A growing phenomena, most recently demonstrated in Facebook’s acquisition of Friend.ly – details here – sometimes called acqHiring
  • While soft skills is the biggest concern, it’s also one of the hardest to address.  The understanding of soft skills is a largely westernised thing, but pan-Asian education systems are starting to recognise this and produce far more rounded candidates. Netherlands versus Philippines given as extremes. Changing population dynamics, particularly in China, may start to reduce the available raw talent entering the education system.
  • The panel gaving universal recognition of under achievement in the areas of internal development (grow your own) and internal mobility.
  • Couple of the panel mentioned they were seeing more HRD’s coming from a pure Talent background.  Its a sentiment I’ve heard mentioned before by Matthew Jeffery around reversing the responsibilities, so maybe the revolution is gathering pace!
I’ll sign off by thanking Channel 4 Talent for hosting a great event!  I should also disclose they’re a client of ours, piloting a Talent Community here.
  1. Nice review James. I like ‘The business concern warranting most attention was that of soft skills – particularly creative minds and problem solving.’ And I’m simultaneously hacked off. We’ve known this for years and yet all most businesses do is measure stuff. Measure the creativity right out of the door. And where I do disagree is when folks say this stuff is the most difficult. Utter rubbish – it’s the most human, simplest things that make the biggest difference. The sooner folk stop checking their hearts and minds in at security the better. Cheers – Doug

  2. Thanks James,
    I’m glad that you enjoyed the event. We are holding another on 19th October called ‘Generation C in the Media Industry’ this debate will focus on entry level. If you would like to come along, please do not hesitate to contact me.


    Colin Campbell-Austin
    Learning & Talent Specialist
    4Talent Channel 4

    • Great event, really enjoyed it. Will no doubt be supporting in future, but for the next, Charlie will be along instead. I’ve pinged you her details on Twitter!

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