Mike Smith OBE – GEN2 Managing Director

Mike believes that what is about to happen in Cumbria will have a huge impact across all sectors. Cumbria is on the brink of a genuinely transformational period of activity where investment in energy and manufacturing will create demand for tens of thousands of new jobs. These opportunities will need the right kind of skills and education to make the most of these once-in-a-generation investments. Mike suggests that all businesses in Cumbria need to have skills and education at the top of their agenda and and the top of their risk register.

 

There are plenty of trends and megatrends affecting Cumbria, and Mike cited the CIPD Policy Report: ‘Avoiding the demographic crunch: labour supply and the ageing workforce’

 

9.4Million people (30% of workforce) are aged over 50 and will leave the workforce over the next few years. ‘Population ageing has the potential to cause significant labour market disruption’. CBI surveys estimate that there will be significant difficulties in recruiting sufficiently skilled employees and that leadership and management skills will be in much greater need.

 

The shape of the labour market is changing from the old ‘pyramid’ where people slowly moved up the ranks of the pyramid, to something quite different. 7 million people will come out of education over the next 10 years, but 12 million will leave the workforce. The pyramid is being replaced by more of a wine-glass shape and the biggest growth is in professional and skilled jobs. 75% of Cumbria’s economy depends on retail, tourism, and care which results in a significant number of lower-paid workers. Cumbria also has a lot of skilled workers in manufacturing and energy.

 

Cumbria is the only English county where a drop in population is predicted; this is compounded by the fact that there will be an increase in people aged > 65, and a decline in people aged 15-64. Cumbria ‘bats above the national average’ in terms of vocational skills (as is great at providing apprenticeships), but lags behind in investment in training. Cumbria is heavily reliant on energy, nuclear, and advanced manufacturing employers and the planned major investments over the next 10 years will develop this even further. This investment is expected to create 31,000 new jobs and Mike asked where those jobs are going to come from. There is a risk that existing workforces will be cannibalised in order to fill these new jobs. Even though the investment is in specific geographic areas, it is likely to have a ripple effect to other areas.

 

This is potentially creating the perfect storm, and is going to require collaboration to survive and thrive. Mike’s challenge to the Developing Future Cumbria conference: As HR professionals, what are we going to do about it? What are the CIPD going to do? What are we going to do individually and collectively? What are employers going to do?

 

(This was live-blogged during a session at the CIPD/CMI/CIM/CCN Developing Future Cumbria conference 2015 in Penrith – #FutureCumbria – I’ve tried to capture a faithful summary of the highlights for me but my own bias, views – and the odd typo – might well creep in.)