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Media comment: We must better support skills development in our regions

24 August 2020

Dear editor,

To help address England’s north-south divide and mitigate the impact of coronavirus on the economy, the government must focus on driving both public and private investments across the country. One of the key ways to do this would be to create and invest in new skills clusters, using models such as development corporations, into “left-behind” regions.

To an extent, this model already exists in the U.K. For example, the Barrow and wider Cumbria area has an economy somewhat focused on the nuclear sub-marine and nuclear power industry, London has financial services and related professions, and the South East England has motor sports. This model also works in other countries, for example Silicon Valley in the United States. This regionalisation of expertise should and could be built upon so that each area can have critical fields of occupation, which can support jobs through their supply chain and generate economic prosperity. 

Additionally, the government should look to see what lessons can be learnt from other projects such as the London Docklands Development Corporation/Canary Wharf Group, which helped transform a very deprived area of London into a global finance and employment hub. This includes ensuring the involvement of the right mix of business leaders, industry experts and government officials with knowledge of the local area and economy – this will be crucial to ensure that such projects really hit the mark and the government delivers on their levelling up agenda.

Yours sincerely,

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