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Unprecedented opportunities ahead

In times of trouble, we can't always see the forest for the trees. Despite COVID and Brexit, we can still Kickstart the economy.


“The best time to plant a tree,” a Chinese proverb reminds us, “was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

Not all companies are facing the same difficulties coming out of this pandemic. While some sectors have been harder hit than others, the economy is slowly recovering, and the growth forecast recently upgraded by the IMF (International Monetary Fund). After contracting by 3.3% in 2020, the IMF said the world economy would grow by 6% in 2021 and a further 4.4% in 2022.


There is reason to be cautiously optimistic

The post-Covid-19, post-Brexit environment is both exciting and volatile. Leading a business in this climate is a balancing act with leaders, managers and company owners need to attempt to grow its presence and increase its sensitivity to changes in the new market.

And with everything disrupted, going back to the same old thing is a losing strategy.

The most resilient companies are reinventing themselves by embracing pandemic-driven change. They use the pandemic as a catalyst, not a speed bump, to boost their companies’ performance, turning these changes into future value creation opportunities.

Every generation, it seems, faces its own difficulties. Not only are we facing the aftermath of a global pandemic, but Brexit is possibly also impacting our road to recovery.


The impact thus far

From the start of the pandemic to February 2021, the number of people claiming unemployment related benefits increased by 1.4 million. The Government’s job retention scheme and furlough programme have helped keep this number lower, but there is still some concern that there are more job losses on the horizon. The latest figure shows that 19.0% of the business employees that had not permanently stopped training were on partial or full furlough. A new analysis from Red Flag Alert shows that almost 275 000 more jobs are at risk when the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ends in September. It means 193,721 companies are vulnerable to the risk of going out of business, with 12,600 of these failing within six months of furlough ending - leaving almost 275,000 people unemployed.


Hope springs eternal

While these figures may seem depressing, agile companies have a chance of bouncing back from the pandemic and increasing their growth:
A common strategy among young adults in response to the Great Recession was to shelter in higher education. For many, this meant pursuing graduate degrees instead of entering the labour market after undergrad. The idea was that the recession would end, things would go back to “normal”, and their lapse in employment would have been used to make themselves more “marketable.” During the coronavirus pandemic, it seems that this trend continued, either because they want to make themselves more marketable or because there simply were no opportunities available.

This, along with the Government’s new Kickstart scheme, provides an ingenious opportunity to those companies who recognise that we can look within to cultivate the talent within our borders to restart the economy and provide opportunities for the future.


Kickstarting the job sector

The Kickstart scheme supports businesses who create new placements for 18-24 year-olds currently claiming Universal Credit and will pay all salary or wages at the national minimum.
We have a new generation entering the workforce who are keen to learn and progress – and there are many benefits to employing the youth. Because they have a different outlook, younger generations and their different perspectives can help inject a more youthful voice, optimism and energy into your organisation. Employing the youth is an investment into your company’s future, and this kind of human-centred approach to business can provide you with a competitive advantage.

The youth can help you rebuild so that your company will be in a better, more vital place to retain existing jobs.

“[The pandemic] reinforces how we are all interconnected and responsible for one another in ways beyond what we might have envisaged—whether it’s employees, customers, suppliers, or communities.” - Guenter Butschek, CEO, Tata Motors


You can read more about the Kickstart Programme here.