Business Development & Marketing Finance General

Skills shortages? Companies should stop whingeing and do something about it

Yet again shortly after the recent budget employers were complaining about a shortage of skilled workers.
The Confederation of British Industry called it a skills emergency and reported that more than 50% of the firms they had recently surveyed feared they would not be able to find the skilled people they needed to grow.
Given that there is no careers advice or service now in most schools, students are expected to arrange their own work experience and in any case it will take time for the effects of any improvements in education to feed through into the workplace, it makes no sense for businesses to call for Government action and wait around for results.
We know of pupils who have found it near-impossible to persuade local companies to provide work experience places, even for a week or two. Equally, businesses regularly use the excuse of being too busy to engage with students by coming into school to give talks, help with relevant projects or allow taster visits to their sites.
Without exposure to the workplace, how are young people supposed to understand the conventions of the workplace and is it really fair for businesses to then complain about new recruits being clueless?
Equally, providing proper apprenticeships as well as training and development for new and existing staff could well prove a faster route to getting the skills businesses need as well as the reward of a more loyal workforce that has benefited from such initiatives.
Like the failure to invest in R&D, many companies have sought to improve their short term profitability at the expense of their future viability.
Owners and directors should stop whingeing, take responsibility and do something about the skills shortage.

Banks, Lenders & Investors Cash Flow & Forecasting Finance General

Is short term investment damaging future business prosperity?

For many years, the UK economy has depended heavily on consumer spending and on property speculation.
This may have led investors, even pension funds that require steady returns over many years, to focus too heavily on short term investment and gain and, therefore, on quarterly or annual reports and results thus undermining their willingness to wait for future returns.
However, the creative infrastructure that led to such inventions as the steam engine depended not only on “lightbulb” moments but also on people who were educated, skilled and above all had the time to think slowly and in depth.
Recently the Bank of England’s Chief Economist, Andy Haldane, has been worrying that the development of the internet has also undermined the ability to think slowly and in depth and thus the patience needed for business innovation and progress.
If UK businesses, from SMEs to large corporations, are to remain at the forefront of innovation they will need continued investment in the best brains, in research and development and in a decent infrastructure and that means investors willing to be patient for the long haul.
Is it time that more emphasis was put on education, training, employee development and perhaps even public investment in longer term projects to emphasise the importance of sustained effort and patience?