‘SKILLS MISMATCH’ NEEDS URGENT ACTION TO STAVE OFF UNEMPLOYMENT AND ENABLE TECH AND SCALE UP BUSINESSES TO POWER ECONOMIC GROWTH
£120bn in UK economic output could be lost by the end of 2029 if the ‘skills mismatch’ remains unsolved, a problem that disproportionately affects the tech and scaling sectors.
This challenge was the focus of debate at the inaugural event of The Scale Factor on 17 September, the flagship event series from Scale Space in partnership with Imperial College Business School.
The Scale Factor will provide a forum to identify and debate the most decisive challenges to scaling in the UK market and beyond.
Our panel of scaling experts called on Government to unlock more investment locally and improve the attractiveness and awareness of careers in scaleups, over banking and accountancy for school leavers and university graduates, to stave off growing unemployment and enable tech and scaleup businesses to power economic growth.
Top five areas of discussion from panellists on solving the skills ‘mismatch’
CALL ON GOVERNMENT FOR INCREASED LOCAL INVESTMENT AND EMPOWERMENT
Irene Graham, CEO, ScaleUp Institute said,
“Scaleups are hungry beasts which need to be fed the right talent at the right time, but we need to create a sustainable supply. This Government is focussed on ‘levelling up’ and it is important we get it right by seeing devolution at local level, and more empowerment and investment locally. We need to better inform and excite school and university leavers to think beyond a traditional graduate scheme such as in banking, or accountancy and be more aware of the rich opportunities in fast growth companies that exist on their doorstep. We need to work harder to ensure talented young people have a broader choice of where to start their careers and enable scaling companies to benefit from their energy and skills.”
IMPORTANCE OF PRIVATE, PUBLIC SECTOR AND GOVERNMENT COMING TOGETHER TO CREATE ACCESSIBLE UPSKILLING OPPORTUNITIES
Richard Haynes, Chief Commercial Officer, Avado,
“The sheer volume of applicants from young people aged 18-22 to join the first cohort of Fast Futures is strong evidence in demand and desire for continued learning. It also creates a template in bridging the gap between full time education and work, and where the private and public sectors, together with Government, can create meaningful learning programmes that can upskill not just young people, but people at all stages in their careers who have been thrown into a state of flux because of the pandemic, and lacking the digital skills needed in their future career. We hope to see Fast Futures continue into 2021 and pave the way for other innovative programmes to follow to make a digital-first workforce a reality, not a vision.”
ROLE UNIVERSITIES AND PRIVATE SECTOR HAVE IN CREATING AN ECOSYSTEM FOR GROWTH
Chris Yeh, scaleup mentor, author and investor said,
“Today, everyone has to see themselves as a life-long learner. This generation, and the next, are going to learn that constant learning is not only wise, but essential in order to keep up with the changing needs of companies, particularly for enhancing digital skills. London is very much like Silicon Valley and cooperation between institutions, academic and business are examples of one ecosystem coming together to create the new infrastructure needed to facilitate business growth and nurture talent. Scale Space is an excellent example of this, and what not only the UK, but other countries need to help companies scale.’
WHY STUDENTS ARE FILLING SPACES AT BUSINESS SCHOOLS DESPITE COVID-19
Dr Mark Kennedy, Associate Professor, Imperial College Business School said,
“Part of the skills challenge is enabling businesses to be brave, and give young people license to do what perhaps the leaders don’t yet know how to do themselves. Our intake this year, despite Covid-19 is Imperial is full, and we are seeing students simply wanting to learn, and also very aware that the world is changing and they need to be more aware of the need to be a self-starter in getting the skills they need. It takes a brave soul to hire someone better than them, and braver still a leader who is prepared to ‘be stupid again’, open to admitting upskilling is needed, in order to get smarter. Companies need to get better at creating a culture where admitting lack of knowledge is a good thing, not something to be embarrassed by.”
NEED FOR MENTORS AND ROLE MODELS AT ALL CAREER STAGES
Stian Westlake, Chief Executive, Royal Statistical Society, said,
“Knowing what you don’t know is a real challenge. It is vital leaders choose to innovate, and identify learning areas from what employees are saying, rather than what they may be thinking. It is also important that people of all ages have access to mentors and role models, and to have the ability to watch and learn from businesses that are thriving, which is exactly what Scale Space will be awarding students through Imperial College Business School. It’s simply hands on experience you can’t teach in the classroom, but only by doing and seeing.”