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Business  Published 07.12.2011
Text by: Duncan Roberts

Upskilling the workforce

Human resources: At a recent ABAL luncheon, David Micallef warned that a significant number of financial services sector jobs could well be outsourced over the next few years.

Upskilling the workforce Photo(s) : Charles Caratini

Pressure on revenues and cost has been leading to a flow down of pressure to what David Micallef calls the foot soldiers of Luxembourg businesses, the employees. The managing director and general manager of Bank of New York Mellon (Luxembourg) was addressing the monthly ABAL luncheon, organised by Amcham at the Sofitel Kirchberg, on the subject of Challenges for HR in a changing world.

Micallef admitted that it may sound trite to stress that human capital is a company’s best resource, but that he genuinely believes this to be the case. However, with chief strategic decisions being taken at head offices abroad that care little for the niceties of Luxembourg labour law or working culture, the pressure on managers in the Grand Duchy to increase profitability and “do more with less” is growing. Micallef likened the challenge he faces as “keeping plates spinning.”

Global expectations often clash with local constraints and getting employees to become more engaged with the company they work for is just one of the challenges faced by HR managers. Micallef believes this can be achieved through a more inclusive approach, focusing on employee development, and improving the workplace in general.

But the speaker also stressed the need for Human Resources to become more of a “business partner” rather than just another administrative department. The need for HR managers to understand the business they are in, support it and delivers business oriented solutions is key to the future. “They need to be creative, innovative and anticipative,” says Micallef. Talent assessment is also vital and using the right tools and processes and aligning them with organizational goals and objectives is part of the HR department’s remit.

The pressure to attract the right talent is also increasing, with little room for error in a competitive market. And in the meantime companies and employees themselves need to focus on the need to upskill, because Micallef estimates that Luxembourg’s financial services centre will see “significant position reductions” over the next few years as more and more lower end jobs are outsourced.

“Ability and transferability” are what employers are now looking for in many cases, says the Englishman.

Keywords:   Human resources, David Micallef, Amcham

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