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London accountants can complete skills gap picture

As ICAEW launches a nationwide inquiry into the nature of talent gaps in UK business, Rosalia Wood, Regional Industrial Strategy Manager at ICAEW, urges London members to share their experiences and help find the missing pieces.

"London

September 2019

London has always attracted the bright young things of the world. The City’s recent pull has been so successful that 382,000 people in the professional and business services sector have come from the EU to build their careers at the heart of the UK’s financial services powerhouse.

Of course, Brexit will not stop the talented coming to work in the UK, but restrictions on freedom of movement when we do come to leave the EU may significantly limit the pool of talent and knowledge available to London businesses. Given this potential brain drain, never has there been a more crucial need to retain and enhance London’s status as the world’s major hub of professional and business services.

It is clear that the capital’s businesses will have to cast their nets as widely as possible to attract highly productive, home-grown talent from a diverse range of backgrounds. The benefits of diversity within companies is plain to see - businesses with more varied workforces are more productive, more innovative and ultimately more profitable.

However, with rising housing and transport costs in London, the Social Mobility Commission’s recent State of the Nation report predicts that a whole swathe of talented young people may be excluded from coming to the capital to work and live. Ironically, it is in growing these smaller, regional economies and improving social outcomes in them that will give young people the financial means, opportunity and aspiration to come to London and fill the capital’s skills needs.

It would be unfair to say that the lack of appropriate skills in the workforce was solely attributable to young people. It is clear that there is a growing emphasis on upskilling, with the Chancellor having pledged £100m in the last Budget to the Adult Retraining Scheme, and the recent independent review conducted by Philip Augar recommending that the government establishes a fund for providing in-work training for those already in the workforce.

However, it is clear that there is still much to be done in this regard. The accountancy profession has a peerless commitment to continuing professional development, and ICAEW feels strongly that its members should use their positions as trusted business advisers to diffuse this best practice in order to ensure that London and the rest of the UK has the highly productive and skilled workforce its economy needs.

There is clearly so much that needs to be done to address London’s skills gap, not just in accountancy, but across the business environment to ensure that the local economy can thrive after the UK leaves the EU. ICAEW’s members with their unparalleled expertise in both working in and advising business can provide invaluable assistance in identifying business needs in terms of skills.

It is with this in mind that this autumn ICAEW will be conducting a nationwide inquiry into the nature of talent gaps in UK business, and would welcome contributions from London Society members.

Where are the specific gaps when it comes to skills? What have you done as business leaders to try to fill those gaps? What has worked and what has not?

Please contact the London regional team to find out more megan.fitzpatrick@icaew.com 

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