On Monday, Chris Philp, a Conservative MP and member of
the Treasury select committee, put forward new proposals on
executive pay. If implemented, they see much higher levels of
shareholder oversight and public scrutiny.
This is a subject that is central to
Theresa May's plans for post-Brexit Britain. This week, Mrs May
took her ideas to tackle bad behaviour in the boardroom to the
In formulating policy proposals, these
ideas are developing from leadership campaign pledges on their way
to becoming law. Before taking up residence at Number 10, Mrs May
said that "It is not anti-business to suggest that big
business needs to change".
Brexit and executive remuneration are
more closely linked than may at first appear.
The Prime Minister said that countries
must “not ignore the fact that there is sentiment out there
in a number of countries which is anti-globalisation”. Some
of this sentiment is fuelled by public anger on corporate tax and
So, what could be coming down the
tracks for Britain's boardrooms?
The most tangible proposal is for a new
shareholder committee with a role on pay and bonuses, corporate
strategy and performance and recommendations to AGMs on the
appointment and removal of directors.
The committee would include nominees
from each of the five biggest shareholder. The chairman and an
employee representative would also take part as non-voting
In addition, Mr Philp is proposing
mandatory publication of the ratio between the pay levels of median
workers and the chief executive. This promises to reveal some
eyebrow-raising ratios between the average employee and some of the
UK's highest paid individuals.
Annual shareholder meetings, already
producing headline grabbing confrontations, may become even more
newsworthy in years to come.
No country for young men (or
In recent years, the UK has posted some
of the most impressive economic growth figures amongst G8
countries. The graduate recruitment market responded to this, with
a huge increase in openings for Britain's university
Is this recovery now threatened by
economic uncertainty surrounding the UK's vote to leave the
European Union? Initial findings released this week by the
Association of Graduate Recruiters suggests a difficult time ahead
for the country's latest cohort of jobseekers.
Earlier in the year, employers had told the Association that
they expected vacancies to increase by about 2%. The
Association's chief executive, Stephen Isherwood, is reported
in the Financial Times as noting that this is no longer the
“Something has changed over the past few months. There are
a smaller number of vacancies this year than there were last, and
the level of economic uncertainty has to be a major contributing
The expectation of a 2% increase has now turned into a fear of
an 8% decline. The Association's survey of 154 major employers
conducted in July and August revealed 19,732 graduate positions.
This is down from 21,427 last year.
Retail, construction, engineering and industrial positions have
been hardest hit, with 16, 14 and 11 per cent fewer graduate
positions respectively. By contrast, there is still growth in the
I.T. and telecoms sectors.
Is this purely down to Brexit-related uncertainty? Or does it
reflect a broader shift in focus from university graduates to
school leavers? A renewed focus on apprenticeships, skills and
training may make good quality college leavers more attractive than
relatively expensive graduates.
Many degree holders find themselves doing jobs that are not
commensurate with either their qualifications or their
expectations. Perhaps the UK economy doesn't need as many
graduates as was once thought?
Instead, a focus on engineering and manufacturing may result in
increased demand for skilled technical staff, and a renewed
interest in apprenticeships and on the job training.
Britain's youth have to make difficult choices at an early
age. Do they go to university and build up a significant level of
debt with the possibility of entering the professions? Or do they
start earning and carry on learning in an apprenticeship?
If you had your time again, what would you choose?
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