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Skills Shortages and the International Roundabout for Talent

So you need more nurses in location A and you need them fast. You’ve known about the issue for years and that a crises is coming but you have not been listened to by your bosses, educators or the government so what choices are you left with?

Well you can do nothing and just let services that are under pressure deteriorate still further.

You can increase your financial package in an attempt to compete and risk becoming uncompetitive in your local market.

You can attempt to poach nurses from elsewhere by offering more flexible package , such as shorter hours, “kiddies shifts and so on in an effort to try and plug the holes that have appeared but is very much a losing battle as others adopt the same strategy.

Lastly you can look outside your own country for a solution. You identify the that country X has the talent that you want, you overcome government red tape, professional bureaucracy and the flow of the required professionals starts but doesn’t last long.


Well there is a finite supply to the skills levels required, those that arrive soon learn that they are in a strong position and start to ask for more and of course your pioneering efforts get copycats not only in your own country but from other countries with similar problems.

Here is a classic example.

Ireland has high educational standards and is producing 1500 top nurses every year but most of these are being sucked from Ireland before the Irish have had the chance to benefit from the education they have paid for.

Who are the worse culprits the NHS from the UK and private healthcare groups as well who arrive offering signing on fees, free ipods and accommodation help. They have now been joined by agencies rep[resenting places like Australia that want to rip out the more senior nurses and whisk them away on the strength of their cheque book.

Meanwhile poor old Ireland may have to open its borders to nurses from Bulgaria and Romania which the UK currently makes it virtually impossible for UK employers to use exacerbating the shortages that contributed to the poaching in the first place and if it happens denuding the Bulgarian and Romanian healthcare sectors.

And in case you are interested in what are the roots of the problem in the UK:

  • Government failure to acknowledge obvious demographic trends
  • An education system geared towards university degrees rather than vocational training
  • Grossly undervalued profession when you think a top footballer gets in a week what 10 staff nurses get in a year.

Is it surprising that many nurses vote with their feet and join the exodus from the old world to the new world in search of a better life.

For nurses you can read, care workers, welders, fabricators, CNC operators and other trade skills.

Oh and by the way the Germans and French open their borders from the 1 May 2011 and where to do expect Polish workers to go? Obviously, wherever the best pay packet exists.

Good luck to them all.


Author: Chris Slay

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