Andrew Harding, FCMA, CGMA, Chief Executive – Management Accounting, CIMA

Addressing skills, productivity and social mobility is the key to long-term success, says Andrew Harding, @CIMA_News 

The UK doesn’t have strong track-record when it comes to investing in skills, and higher-level skills in particular.

This was a nagging issue long before the coronavirus pandemic hit, and it has now become an acute problem for UK businesses, which could hamper our country’s long-term recovery.

In the face of the biggest economic recession in decades with GDP having its biggest fall on record and rising unemployment levels, we must put a greater emphasis on investing in skills to help generate economic growth and tackle the long-term challenges this crisis has only exacerbated (e.g. low productivity, high dependency on low-skill service sector jobs, regional imbalance, and weak social mobility).

To achieve this, we need to better support all workers to reskill and upskill throughout their careers and encourage them to now start adapting their skillsets to the post-pandemic ways of working.

This means that we need to adapt our education and training systems to ensure that we equip our workforce with the skills they need to succeed in tomorrow’s workplace. This includes:

  • Changing the Apprenticeship Levy to an Apprenticeship and Skills Levy for all workers to ensure businesses have the talent they need now and in the future;
  • Continuing to invest towards higher level apprenticeships to raise the skill levels of the UK workforce, meet the demands of the economy and encourage social mobility; and
  • Introducing a rebuttable right to retrain to empower workers to request further training and development.

If we are to overcome this crisis, and pay down our national debt without returning to austerity, we must invest in skills to increase productivity and drive growth. The country cannot afford to play the waiting game on this issue.

We must of course tackle immediate issues such as restoring jobs and increasing consumer spending, but the UK Government must also ensure that its recovery strategy encompasses long-term priorities.

This includes putting a greater focus on tackling our widening skills gap, faltering productivity, and failing social mobility to deliver a truly inclusive, lasting economic recovery and propel our resilience to the next level. This will be the uphill battle of the UK’s post-lockdown world.

Andrew Harding, FCMA, CGMA, Chief Executive — Management Accounting, The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, part of the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants

The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants recommendations for COVID-19 recovery strategy

The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), the world’s largest body of management accountants, released a set of recommendations (2 Jul) designed to support the UK Government to navigate challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, aid the country’s economic recovery and build business resilience to future crises.

CIMA provides 20 recommendations and is calling for the Government to concentrate on four key areas:

1. Investing in skills to help generate economic growth and improve productivity.

Key recommendations encompass changing the Apprenticeship Levy to an Apprenticeship and Skills Levy for all workers to ensure businesses have the talent they need to succeed now and in the future; investing towards higher level apprenticeships to raise the skill levels of the UK workforce, meet the demands of the economy and encourage social mobility; and driving regional investments to deliver new skills clusters to kickstart innovation, attract inward investments and drive economic growth.

2. Providing businesses and consumers with confidence to invest and do business.

Key recommendations relate to temporarily lowering VAT to encourage business and consumer spending; cutting employers’ national insurance bills to help keep people employed and create new jobs; and proactively supporting businesses to seize new opportunities notably through the creation of a Growth Accelerator scheme for SMEs. 

3. Providing businesses with certainty.

Key recommendations pertain to outlining business tax plans for the next two years so companies can make informed investment decisions; pausing plans to implement new business regulations to ensure companies can focus on recovery; supporting businesses to build resilience in their supply chains to weather future shocks; and ensuring free movement of professionals as well as mutual recognition of professional qualifications in future trade deals.

4. Creating a more sustainable business environment.

Key recommendations include supporting the adoption of integrated reporting for businesses across the UK to better showcase how they create value, beyond financial results, for all stakeholders; reform UK insolvency and administration practices to allow for certain viable businesses to re-structure and survive – this will help secure jobs, ensure creditors are paid, and secure tax revenue; and investing in green infrastructure supporting a net-zero recovery and future business sustainability.

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