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February 15th 1999-For the third time in three months, Pink Elephant desktop support personnel have received phone calls from recruiters or headhunters who use unscrupulous methods to be put through to them and to obtain names of Pink Elephant staff.

Pink Elephant employs over 300 people in the UK, many of whom have been trained by the company in IT service management, specifically to manage and run IT Support Desks on-site at customers which include large household names in the city and in industry. Pink Elephant also provides consultancy and IT migration services and is part of the Netherlands-based £250m Roccade Group.

Staff numbers in the UK are expected to swell to 400 this year, as the company continues its own recruitment and training programme.

Alan McCarthy, a director of Pink Elephant, says: "The situation we are experiencing is possibly reflective of the times we live in, and as the millennium draws nearer will probably get a lot worse. On one occasion the caller pretended to be one of Pink Elephant's field staff, and on another pretended to be from the HR department based at the company's headquarters in Reading. These techniques get them through to the support staff, who are then asked to provide the names of other Pink Elephant staff on-site and are then given ridiculous offers of work elsewhere.

"On another occasion the caller varied the message by saying he is an IIP (Investors In People) assessor phoning about Pink Elephant's IIP programme. The caller then proceeded to get the names of all Pink Elephant staff on-site and their job roles with a view to arranging interviews. to 'discuss IIP'. This is very unscrupulous, but it's happening because of the so-called 'skills crisis' in IT," says McCarthy. "The 'crisis' is actually self-inflicted - we're paying for a lack of investment, by some companies, in their people by training and educating them.

"In our business we've come to expect that organisation will poach your staff, however I've been amazed at the way organisations have been totally dishonest in their approach." says McCarthy, "I suppose in a way it's flattering that people are after our staff". He sees the attempts at staff poaching as recognition that Pink Elephant staff are highly sought after because of the selection process and training they have been through.

Pink Elephant recruits from among graduates and trains them to nationally recognised qualifications. The company has just introduced a '3 Year Charter' for staff which is essentially an IT Management apprenticeship. "We see the charter as a way of future-proofing ourselves and our staff against fluctuations in the IT recruitment market. We guarantee training and career development for them if they commit themselves to the company for three years."

Will these attempts at poaching deter Pink Elephant from their continuous education programme? "Certainly not", says McCarthy "That would go against the whole culture of the company, it would also be a very short term view, and I must add that none of these approaches have been successful. "Money isn't everything - our staff value a commitment to their career just as much as salary."

Pink Elephant recently won a Shell award, for the way it treats its staff and the good internal culture that it has created, and for creating jobs.

The company won the Shell Trophy at last year's Anglo-Dutch Awards for Enterprise, which are presented each year to companies which excel in business between the two countries.

Pink Elephant, won the 'Large Business' category. The key issues behind the win were the creation of employment, and establishing staff relations and working conditions which generate and maintain a unique culture of customer service.

For further information contact:
Alan McCarthy, Pink Elephant, Tel 01189-566431.
Email: amccarthy@pink.co.uk
or
Paul Whitehead, Western Associates PR, Tel 01428-641413.
Email: paul@western-pr.demon.co.uk

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