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Pink Elephant under attack from poachers

UK support services firm sees red over headhunters' actions

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Pink Elephant is accusing "unscrupulous recruiters" of trying to head-hunt its desktop support staff. The Reading-based company alleges that its helpdesk staff -- who are trained by Pink Elephant before being contracted out to work on company helpdesks around the country -- have been targeted because of a chronic skills shortage in the industry. Alan McCarthy, a director of Pink Elephant, said: "On one occasion the caller pretended to be one of Pink Elephant's field staff, and on another pretended to be from the [Human Resources] department." As soon as a name is obtained McCarthy alleges that his staff are contacted before being given "ridiculous offers" of work elsewhere. On another occasion a caller pretended to be an IIP (Investors In People) assessor phoning about Pink Elephant's IIP programme. "This is very unscrupulous, but it's happening because of the so-called 'skills crisis' in IT," said McCarthy. He said that the industry is paying for a lack of investment, a view endorsed by Angela Baron, a policy advisor at the Institute of Personnel and Development (IPD). She agrees that there is a skills shortage but adds that the risk of losing staff can be reduced if employees are happy at work, feel valued, are paid in accordance to the market rate and believe they have a career path. Commenting on the allegations concerning "unscrupulous recruiters" she said that most reputable head hunters have signed some code of conduct although this was no guarantee that such activities did not happen. ®

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