Opinion

Charlie Mullins: Now ranked sixth best country for doing business, UK must tackle productivity

3 min read

02 November 2015

Being humiliated at major sporting events is nothing new to the England faithful, and you'd have thought we'd be immune to the inevitable disappointment by now, but watching the Kiwis lift the Webb Ellis Cup at Twickenham has to be a new low.

That said, in four years’ time you can guarantee that every man, woman and child will be proudly stood in stadiums or in front of their TVs, belting out their own rendition of “God Save the Queen”, with a little twinkle in their eyes, convinced that this year, it’s ours for the taking.

Our stiff upper lip and “never say die” attitude is something we should take great pride in; here at Pimlico the Union Jack and St George’s flag both take centre stage on top of our Lambeth HQ.

Away from the sporting arena, we have even more reason to be proud. The economy is back on track and fresh into its second term, the Conservative government is creating an environment for innovative businesses to thrive.

Confirmation of this came in a report by the World Bank that said reforms to red tape and corporate tax has made the UK an easier place to do business.

I spoke to Andrew Neil on Daily Politics about our pro-enterprise attitude and how the economy is going from strength to strength under David Cameron and George Osborne’s guidance. 

Moving up the international league table for doing business is a great achievement, especially when you take into consideration the uncertainty caused by the impending European referendum. Now ranked sixth, the UK must carry on this momentum by tackling productivity and the extensive skills shortage.

I have first-hand experience of the skills gap hindering businesses and was even forced to expand my search for sufficiently qualified tradespeople to other parts of Britain, and even France after the drying up of supply on home soil. 

It’s all well and good facilitating entrepreneurship, but if these creative minds don’t have access to high-calibre, hard-working employees, progress will be slow.

It says a lot when my recruitment team would happily take on another 30 trades people tomorrow and give them all a starting salary of at least £80,000. There doesn’t appear to be a short-term solution to this problem – believe me I’ve looked for one. However, planning for the future certainly wouldn’t hurt. 

I’m really pushing for a fully-funded apprenticeship programme that would match training to the needs of employers and doing away with training for trainings sake.

The scheme would give youngsters the opportunity to secure themselves a job for life and within a few years there would be hundreds of newly qualified tradespeople ready to put a stop to the skills gap, once and for all. I’m a great believer in fixing the roof while the sun is shining; so, now that the economy is on an upward curve, it’s time to stop the talking and get walking.