Глава WPP’s Grey London: Мы должны приветствовать талантливых эмигрантов

Evening Standard: London needs to be open for global business, extending a welcome to talented people, wherever they come from, with open arms (Chris Hirst, CEO of WPP’s Grey London, a leading advertising agency).


Yesterday’s conference speech by David Cameron was intended as a defence of business, promising a “land of opportunity” for all. It was savvy sloganeering, but in reality the current nature of the debate around immigration — by both parties — is a serious threat to our future standing as a world leader in all talent-based sectors.

To stay at the top as a global centre of excellence, we must take a new approach to immigration. Indeed, we must ask ourselves a completely different question: how can London become the destination of choice for the world’s best talent? How can we attract and retain more than our fair share of a finite global talent pool?

Hiring the best the world has to offer is already difficult and it’s getting worse. Because far from enabling London’s future prosperity, politicians are putting fundamental barriers in our way. 

The CBI acknowledges that creative industries are increasingly critical drivers of cultural and economic success for London, accounting for six per cent of UK GDP. We compete globally. Our competition is now not just agencies in Soho but those in China, Latin America and the US.

We produce global solutions for global brands — so we need to be able to hire and attract a workforce that can deliver them. Creativity is about the collision of cultures. Influences from outside the EU make us stronger.

The legislative environment is already unhelpful, and if current rhetoric is anything to go by, it will become increasingly hostile. Student visa reforms are a significant retrograde step. Moreover, the enforced sponsorship of aspiring international creatives, who would normally enter the industry through work placements, will only further hinder our ability to compete globally. The increased cost and bureaucracy we face to hire fresh, young, ambitious people from abroad is prohibitive and detrimental to our collective future.

It’s not only about legislation. The world’s most talented people must want to come and bring their families here. Talent always has options and if they don’t want to come or aren’t allowed into the UK, then our loss is our global competitors’ gain.

The danger of the current discussion, from Theresa May’s focus on illegal immigration to Ed Miliband’s apprentice tax, is that it degrades London’s historically open reputation. Having a debate is good — but we’re having the wrong debate, using the wrong language.

We’re familiar with, and proud of, our long and illustrious history of championing free trade as a route to national prosperity. We should now be considering some of the parallels between freedom of trade and “freedom of talent”. The economies and cities that get this right will be the most prosperous. This would be a true 21st-century “land of opportunity”.

I’m not making a case for unfettered immigration. I’m arguing for intelligent debate. Immigration is not a simple issue. But the Government must not shut the door to foreigners. It might not be a short-term, vote-winning view, but London needs to be open for global business, extending a welcome to talented people, wherever they come from, with open arms. For London to thrive, we must ensure we win the battle for global talent.

Chris Hirst is CEO of WPP’s Grey London, a leading advertising agency. Twitter: @chrishirst

Source: London Evening Standard