February 21, 2014 8:03 pm

Scottish independence and the CV problem

‘When it comes to recruiting beyond our national borders, small companies suffer’

Talent is internationally mobile, we are told. Certainly, here in our little business we looked to the US last year when we were hiring, and we now have a colleague whose moderated Connecticut vowels make the office sound very international. We work in a specialist area, and our team in London arguably already represents half of the UK’s entire talent pool relevant to that field. No wonder we decided to look beyond national boundaries when we needed to hire.

Of course, this is not easy. I don’t know why Nigel Farage is so worried about immigration. It’s harder to get a work permit for a non-EU citizen to work as a specialist hire in the UK than it is to get a hair appointment with Nicky Clarke on a Friday. We had to apply to the Home Office to become an official sponsoring company, and only when that was granted could we start to do everything to show that we could not recruit anyone suitable in the UK. The next stage was to identify our US target and apply for a work permit on his behalf.

Peter has marked his arrival by installing a whacky new coffee machine in the kitchen. We already have instant coffee, a Nespresso machine and a cafetière. He insists on referring to the latter as a “French press”, which sounds more like something Christian Trevelyan Grey might use. I was more interested to know why we needed another coffee delivery system. Because, my new young American told me, this is filter coffee, so it percolates more and therefore is better. He only has himself to blame for now being christened Percolating Pete.

PP retorted that he had expected me to call him Annoying American. He is quite an Adorable American, actually, and still has a two at the front of his age so I am sure we can mould him to our way of doing things. I have bought him a dinner jacket and required him to escort me to several formal dinners. He found the Loyal Toast a bit confusing the first time he heard it. As hundreds of fellow diners stood and lifted their glasses to the Queen, PP looked around anxiously. “Where is she sitting?” he asked.

When it comes to recruiting beyond our national borders, small companies like us suffer disproportionately with red tape and legal fees – just one look at the Home Office paperwork had me lying down in a dark room. How are we going to manage if Scotland declares independence?

I know the debate right now is all about currency and Scotland being refused the right to keep the pound. That is the least of my worries. What is annoying is the assortment of foreign currencies hanging around my desk after my recent stint of travel. Even the burglars left them behind when they dropped by for 11 minutes last month. Why can’t we have a world currency? OK, I know why not. But even so, all these bits of loose change are Very Annoying.

My main concern is that an independent Scotland would not have much chance of joining the EU. That means we will have to stop recruiting from Scotland. We employ a disproportionate number of our staff from Scottish universities; if I have to go through the whole Home Office saga for them, we may have to retreat to England and Wales for our recruitment. Is that really what people want? I know that 16- and 17-year-olds are being allowed to vote in the referendum, and I hope that they will be the ones who aspire to work in companies like ours.

I am proud to be part of the United Kingdom – the Moneypennys have a strong Scottish heritage, despite some Antipodean dilution. Three hundred years of union has made us much stronger as a nation. Scotland has a lot of talent in its young people and the free movement of labour back and forth over the border is hugely valuable, especially to employers. I hope that the Scots will vote for the Union, and save me masses of paperwork. I can promise them interesting jobs – and lots of nice coffee.

mrsmoneypenny@ft.com

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