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Leading the charge? Levelling up managerial skills in the UK

Credit: Bright Blue

Chartered Management Institute

3 min read Partner content

The Chartered Management Institute outlines three of the big ideas that came out of their fringe event at Conservative Party Conference, in partnership with Bright Blue.

The link between management skills and productivity is simultaneously one of the most widely-accepted, and yet roundly-ignored economic realities of the UK today.

In its goal for more innovative, competitive and productive businesses, why is the investment in these skills as a key policy lever consistently overlooked?

This question is why this week at the Conservative Party Conference, Bright Blue in association with the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) held a discussion to explore how valuable better management is to the UK, and how we can deliver it.

The panel was made up of Conservative MP for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner, David Simmonds CBE MP; Chair of the Purpose Coalition and former Education Secretary, Justine Greening; Chief Executive of Common Purpose UK, Marie Mohan; Bloomberg UK Politics Reporter, Joe Mayes; Professor of Practice in Education Policy at the University of Birmingham, Christopher Millward; and, CMI’s Director of Policy and External Affairs, Anthony Painter. Bright Blue’s Diane Banks chaired the discussion.

Following a lively and interesting debate, here were three big ideas that came out of the session:

  1. Emergency Budget on Skills. In the midst of a skills crisis, providing the investment required to produce a modern, future-facing skills system is a choice for the government to take, albeit a difficult one in the current economic climate. However, if we believe that skills deliver growth, an immediate skills intervention is imperative.
  2. Better integrate Vocational and Academic learning. If we are aiming for a culture of lifelong learning, where workers can study and upskill as it suits them, we need to consider how we can better coordinate higher and further education. This is going to rely on the creative use of more flexible, modular and bitesize courses which allows workers to learn, unlearn and relearn.
  3. Elevate Management and Leadership on the Government Agenda. We know that management skills make the private sector more productive and the public sector more innovative and efficient. The government should coordinate management and leadership development across all sectors, and via the portfolios of all government departments so that there is a consistent approach to delivering these skills.

Earlier this year, CMI published The Everyone Economy, our plan for sharing work opportunity and success, in which we argued that we are overlooking talent just at the moment we need it most. This report highlighted the key contribution that better management can make to the country’s prosperity, whilst also spreading opportunity across every community in the UK.

Without conscious action from UK employers to give everyone a stake in the economy, it will be the UK economy that loses out through lost growth, productivity, innovation and efficiency of public services.

And there is a clear role for government policy in delivering this agenda. CMI wants to see a focus on incentivising investment in human capital, primarily through tax incentives for businesses; careful reform of the Apprenticeship Levy which builds on its success, including through the creation of an Apprenticeship Opportunity Fund to support under-represented groups; and, putting productivity-enhancing management and leadership skills at the heart of all government agendas: levelling up, the green transition, the growth plan and future workforce skills.

CMI’s 75th anniversary report, The Everyone Economy, can be found online here, alongside the accompanying documentary series which explores the report’s themes in greater detail. From September 2022 onwards, CMI will be running a series of regional roadshow events to explore the report’s findings in the context of each location. Find more details and book your place online here.

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