The event today at EY in Reading was focused on the next generation workforce in The Thames Valley and how this can be retained to maximise the current growth of the region as quoted below by EY's Reading & TV Managing Partner, Richard Baker.
It made me think about why I completed my GCSE and A-Level exams, University and have now spent 6 consecutive years living/working in Thames Valley* for 2 businesses based here.
Given the data presented today showing school leavers/graduates leave for London instead of staying in the region I believe I can speak with some authority on the matter as a 28-year old.
I believe my biggest pull to the region was having a career direction by engaging with people within business throughout education (in the region/beyond) and then being exposed to 2 seperate businesses run/founded by exactly the type of people I aspire too. In addition, the opportunities presented matched my own aspirations.
Whilst my data points are small, we hired (in both occasions) excellent people who were also living in the region. Suggesting with the right process this demographic do not leave.
As Richard states below, the loss of the future workforce is a problem for this fast growth to continue. So what can be done in an organic and positive way to prevent this? A few ideas:
- Like sport, grassroots is important to start the conversation. University and schools should be inviting both businesses and business people with a story from the region to actively speak. Bill Ingram had some good advice on this topic today.
- Schools to invite parents of children to listen to local success stories from business people in the region to explain opportunities here.
- More industry events. Events are key to building leads and the more of these in the region the more businesses can participate and do not need to leave the region as much, thus creating more of a network and personal environment. I am sure there are other lead generating activities that could be increased too.
- Businesses invite and seek the future workforce to discuss opportunities. Most students would love to be invited to a firm that fits their current career aspirations - I spent my school work experience when I was 14 with the FD and his team at Oracle. This still inspires me to move towards a c-level finance/management role at technology company.
- To keep new jobs open, the legacy/enterprise businesses in the region need to be inviting in start-up/scale-up businesses to see whether their services can be of use. Regardless of a potential deal, knowledge can be transferred in both directions. I know this from talking with EY.
- Workplace environment and rewards, actually asking what your current/future workforce want as an office and reward. It might not just be table tennis/bar and lots of money. Andy Timpson of EY had some great insight and examples on this.
The session has certainly inspired me to look at what more can be done to take advantage of the growth of the region. Everyone clearly has a role to play from schools, universities, the future workforce, current workforce, start-up, scale-up and enterprise firms. Great to be part of such an exciting time and look forward to continuing the conversation!
*I did pause University to work at Grant Thornton in London for 18 months.
Richard Baker, EY’s managing partner for Reading and the Thames Valley, commented: “This is our first region and city forecast since the EU referendum and it’s positive to see Reading’s and the broader Thames Valley region’s strong economic performance outpacing London and the wider South East. This growth is reflective of the region’s position within the M4 growth corridor, as well as its ability to absorb jobs relocating from London. On a more cautionary note, he added: “We need to continue to invest in transportation links, skills development and education. These are critical areas of need for the businesses based in our region, as well as crucial to our ability to attract and support start-ups, scale-ups and overseas companies.”