The dust is settling and my clients are finally starting to plan for the long term. But there is one noticeable pinch point that the Government must act upon now.
Understandably, we saw a dip in confidence about the economic strength of UK Plc thanks to the General Election, but since the result the business community has gained in confidence.
So what are the challenges holding us back?
In a word – people.
My clients tell me that finding the talented people with the right skills and experience is the main barrier to growth.
This is supported by a recent Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) survey of CIMA members, which found that 75% of school leavers require significant training once recruited and are twice as likely to lack functional skills, basic literacy and numeracy.
To alleviate this, the Government needs to focus on education now. I am told by my clients that its apprenticeship schemes are ‘a good start’, but they feel the current schemes are too narrow in scope and too prescriptive.
Instead, they would prefer to see young people learning key skills while at work rather than at college. While practical skills are vital, so are soft skills such as good communication and time management.
Employers want to be involved in the development of training and apprenticeship programmes so they are properly aligned with the real demands of the workplace, and young people are given the skills they need to find jobs and take pride in their career.
There is a feeling of relief in the air as business owners begin to sit down and plan for the next five years.
But how talent can be developed in time to support those growth plans will be a hot topic of debate throughout the remainder of this Government’s term.
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