From education to employment

Building the Northern powerhouse will rely on collaboration

Sam Vickerman

The government’s Levelling Up strategy has reemphasised the importance of spreading opportunity and investment more equally across the country, allowing areas outside the long-prioritised London to prosper. As the UK continues to step towards a post-Brexit, post-pandemic future, the North offers boundless potential for social and economic growth.

Investing into the North for growth is essential, but there must be an assurance that this growth can be sustained in the long term. Despite the fact that individual entrepreneurs and innovative companies can make meaningful contributions to attracting investment, long-term success depends on an inclusive, collaborative strategy.

In recent years, the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, a network of over three hundred Northern businesses and entrepreneurs, has successfully attracted global investment to the area. Through collaboration, those involved have collectively raised their profiles and worked towards the realisation of a Northern powerhouse.

The collaboration has been a source of inspiration for the Levelling Up agenda, with the government’s whitepaper citing it as an example of a successful pan-region partnership. The enterprising partnership involves high-profile members, including Barclays, Arcadis and Virgin Money, as well as the involvement of many other SMEs. These businesses have shown the importance of amplifying the collective voice to enhance the visibility of the North.

With an emphasis on collaboration, considerations must be made to ensure new talent is diverse and that employees feel accepted and comfortable in the workplace. As part of this, programmes that focus on diversifying tech should be encouraged, such as those that encourage women into tech, as well as those from ethnic minority backgrounds, first-generation graduates, and those who identify as LGBTQ+.

These programmes have the potential to attract a wide range of young people into the tech workforce and launch the careers of those who may not have previously considered a tech career, further tackling the digital skills gap that is facing the UK. Encouraging a richly diverse workforce will help plug the labour shortages and encourage the tech sector to innovate in ways that were not possible before.

However, collaboration isn’t just limited to businesses and the initiatives they can provide. By working together, SMEs can offer new opportunities to one another and bring a stronger skillset to their customers. Grayce, for example, offers companies the chance to work with top talent who have already received high-quality training to help them embrace and accomplish their digital future.

As Northern businesses collaborate and diversify their workforce, they can strengthen their skillsets, offerings, and image. So, whilst the journey to actualising the Northern powerhouse will not be simple, it’s clear that collaboration holds the key.

By Sam Vickerman, Insurance and Consumer Tech Practice Director, Grayce

Sam is an experienced Practice Director with a demonstrated history of supporting clients across Retail and Financial Services. With a background in change and operational leadership, Sam is a strong advocate of developing emergent talent to bridge the digital skills gap. She is proud to be an elected Governor of the Christie Hospital in Manchester.

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