Business leaders say skills, infrastructure and Net Zero should be priorities for Government
March 17, 2021
Over the past year, governments around the world have supported businesses on an unprecedented scale. The UK Government is no exception, having taken on additional roles and powers to support businesses through the pandemic and to pave the way to recovery. As we look beyond the pandemic, our 24th Annual CEO Survey gives us insights into what business is looking for from the Government in the months ahead.
Our CEO survey finds that business leaders are planning a ‘no regrets’ recovery, focusing on decisions within their control that will deliver positive outcomes and a foundation for future success. While many are still concerned about economic uncertainty, there is a clear sense that the crisis has bottomed out and a route to recovery is in sight. And globally, the UK is now seen as the fourth most important target for investment.
When it comes to shaping that recovery, the top three priorities that business leaders say the Government should focus on are:
- a skilled, educated and adaptable workforce (64%)
- adequate physical and digital infrastructure (53%)
- and reducing climate change and environmental damage (49%)
Two of these - skills and climate change - are also in the top three priorities that CEOs say business should focus on, indicating the collaborative effort that is needed.
Ensuring the workforce, and younger people in particular, have the skills they need for future jobs will be critical to the UK’s economic recovery. 73% of UK CEOs are concerned about ‘availability of key skills’, with 24% being extremely concerned. In the recent Budget, we saw the Chancellor pull on some of the immediate levers available to get people back into work, including incentive grants for apprenticeships and funding for traineeships. These steps are vital, and both education providers and employers will need to find new ways to meet the skills challenges we face.
Infrastructure and real assets will also be a central part of the UK’s post-pandemic recovery. The launch of the National Infrastructure Strategy in November 2020 set out a raft of infrastructure investment and the Government will need to continue to invest in building the capability, systems and culture needed to support its ambitious portfolio of public spending, as well as building on the Green Book reforms to ensure that investment is joined up across a place and supports broader levelling up objectives.
With the UK hosting COP26 this year, reducing climate change and environmental damage is high on the Government’s agenda. The UK has announced ambitious emissions targets to set the UK on the path to net zero by 2050 and business will have an important role to play in achieving those ambitions, committing to their own net zero target and transforming their organisations and services.
An enduring theme in our CEO Surveys, and our Future of Government research, is the need for business and government to work together to achieve shared outcomes for wider society. As the UK emerges out of the pandemic we at PwC will be working to help business and government develop stronger relationships that can deliver a fair recovery.