A report published by Lloyds Banking Group reveals that job creation will be the key factor in underpinning the region’s economic recovery.
The report: The Big Conversation: Helping Britain Recover, contains insights gathered from business leaders, policy-makers and community leaders around the UK and highlights strong calls from stakeholders for a bespoke regional approach to the economic recovery.
The report follows the Group convening 22 discussions with more than 900 local businesses, industry leaders, politicians and experts across the UK’s nations and regions.
In the West Midlands, the Forging the Future – Re-skilling the West Midlands event, which included Mayor Andy Street, discussed how providing SMEs and entrepreneurs with the opportunities to create jobs will underpin the region’s economic recovery. The event highlighted the importance of apprenticeships for future growth. New growth areas such as the move to green homes was highlighted as having the potential to create new jobs and support SMEs in the region.
The roundtables were hosted virtually over three months and saw panels come together to discuss the challenges and opportunities they’ve faced this year and share ideas for building a sustainable recovery across the UK.
Nationally, the conversations explored the critical areas of support needed to help rebuild communities and inform public policy and also identified emerging consensus on what is required to support the UK’s recovery. Discussions focused on support for SMEs, digital skills, agriculture, housing, household finances, electric vehicles and sustainability.
In the process of sharing experiences, stories of outstanding resilience emerged: business models pivoting to exploit online retail opportunities, production lines integrating social distancing measures and employees retraining in digital skills to equip them, and their firms, for the future. A clear consensus that collaboration and innovation must be at the heart of the recovery came to the fore.
Jo Harris, Lloyds Banking Group Ambassador for the Midlands, said: “Coming together as a region to share experiences and discuss how to create new jobs and opportunities for those living in the Midlands has been invaluable.
“Along with stakeholders and businesses we have discussed how we can empower businesses by providing advice on skills, apprenticeships and training opportunities. For many in the region this will need to be backed with grants and financial support.
“We will now start our work to put the recommendations of this report into practice and help drive the region’s economic recovery.”
The politicians, businesses, campaigners and community leaders involved in the events made it clear that they want to see regionally focused recovery strategies, shaped by local voices for local economies, to ensure the right solutions are put in place.
António Horta-Osório, CEO of Lloyds Banking Group, added: “A huge amount was discussed in the course of The Big Conversation, but a few themes became particularly clear. For me, the most striking of which was that while there were many shared experiences among businesses in certain sectors, the largest differences were in the experiences of businesses and communities in different geographies. This makes a tailored, regionally-led and regionally-informed approach to our national recovery essential.”