Skills & Infrastructure ‘Should Be Top Priority’ For UK Govt

A new survey from the Institute of Directors (IoD) has found that nearly nine out of ten of the group’s 800 or so members back the creation of a plan that focuses on improving the country’s infrastructure and also ensuring that there are sufficient people with the appropriate skills and qualifications for companies to hire.

Business leaders have stressed that this would be a more appropriate plan than simply providing cash support for individual firms. The study revealed that three-quarters of respondents believe that a long-term skills strategy should be the top priority for the government, while six out of ten also called on the government to make improvements to infrastructure like speedier rollout of fast broadband around the country.

Director of policy at the IoD James Sproule noted that the government’s new industrial strategy should also put a strong focus on the physical infrastructure that companies need in order to remain competitive. This not only includes transport but the broadband network, which many consider to be too slow, as well as improvements to road and rail around the UK.

“Earlier this week, the Prime Minister outlined a vision for a prosperous post-Brexit Britain that promoted innovation and the free flow of trade and ideas. The new industrial strategy can be a key plank of this vision. Leaving the EU is not the only way in which the UK will change in the coming years. As more jobs are taken on by robots or algorithms, and our population ages, it is vital we think seriously about the future of skills and training,” he said.

Mr Sproule went on to add that the new strategy is an opportunity for the government to create a better, more positive environment for existing companies while encouraging start-ups to develop the services and products of the future. He insisted that the emphasis should be placed on retraining those who may lose their jobs so that communities are better able to adapt to economic changes in the years ahead.

The government’s Building Our Industrial Strategy green paper reveals the plans for the future, stating that work will be done to build on the country’s strengths and drive excellence moving forward, while closing the gap between the most productive companies, places, industries and people, and those that aren’t so productive, as well as making sure that the UK is one of the most competitive places around the world in which to start or grow a business.

While the industrial strategy is looking to the long term, the benefits of it can be felt now and the approach is already bearing fruit, according to the government – whether it’s the decision to move forward with Hinkley Point C, the new runway at Heathrow or HS2.

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