Energy & Utility Skills has welcomed the Westminster government announcement that Business Secretary Alok Sharma will chair new ‘recovery roundtables’ bringing together businesses, business representative groups and leading academics. The groups will tackle measures to support economic recovery and ensure we have the right skills and opportunities in place for our workforce over the next 18 months.
Energy & Utility Skills and the Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership have long called for one coherent approach to delivering resilience for the UK’s labour market, and ensuring workforce sustainability is secured first in the UK’s most critical industries that protect society, the economy and will deliver the major changes needed to protect the environment. That call was echoed again this week as the UK’s gas, power, water and waste management employers launched their Workforce Renewal & Skills Strategy for 2020 to 2025 and did so as the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy made its announcements.
Energy & Utility Skills Chief Executive, Nick Ellins, commented “The case for one coherent approach to workforce strategy and workforce planning is incontestable. The United Kingdom cannot deliver its economic recovery and post European exit growth aims, or meet its legal obligations to the global environmental crisis without creating the equivalent to a Civil Contingencies Committee (COBRA) to manage the major disruption within our labour market. The announcement by government advises that the make-up of the new groups will be announced soon. We have to have our four nation’s governments think and act as one in one Committee; thinking and acting for the whole of society and contributing as equals. The situation is too significant and the social and economic consequences too great to do anything else, and 66.5 million people will be judging how our leaders have joined together to find us all a path out.”
“To carry on having all the major labour market and employment mechanisms held centrally and then further education and skills fractured in to ever smaller accountabilities, with no master plan or even alignment, is farcical and wastefully inefficient. We need central and devolved approaches aligned, still working to deliver vital local solutions to regional and national workforce differences, but coordinated into a robust human capital strategy that protects the UK’s most vital services first, and makes optimum use of what will be scarce financial and civil service resources post pandemic. In a few months, our nations have moved from having the most constrained labour market in our recorded history, to the real risk of truly massive job losses. This is a major incident needing a COBRA style response.”
In the new announcement, the new groups will explore key domestic and global challenges to support a green and resilient recovery and ensure the UK is at the forefront of new and emerging industries.
Focused on 5 key themes, each group will explore how business can work with government to deliver economic growth and jobs:
- The future of industry: How to accelerate business innovation and leverage private sector investment in research and development
- Green recovery: How to capture economic growth opportunities from the shift to net zero carbon emissions
- Backing new businesses: How to make the UK the best place in the world to start and scale a business
- Increasing opportunity: How to level up economic performance across the UK, including through skills and apprenticeships
- The UK open for business: How to win and retain more high value investment for the UK
The initiative includes 5 new ministerial-led taskforces to develop further plans for how and when closed sectors can safely reopen, following the publication of the Prime Minister’s roadmap out of lockdown.
In the BEIS press release, the Secretary of State for Business, Alok Sharma commented:
These roundtables are a redoubling of our efforts to listen to and work with the business community and academic experts as we consider the measures needed to support our economic bounce-back. This will undoubtedly lead to a cleaner, greener, more resilient economy which will create new jobs.
The output from this initiative will feed directly into the government’s work on economic recovery and will help deliver the commitments we made to the British people only last December, which now take on an even greater sense of urgency and importance.