World wide, each nation is coping with vital disruptions. Some are international, similar to COVID-19. Others are extra native, similar to Brexit right here within the UK.
In very alternative ways, the disruptions and challenges of each COVID-19 and Brexit have made us pause and rethink a broad vary of matters. Such challenges pressure us all to take decisive motion and reassert ourselves—personally, professionally and as a nation.
Within the UK, the approval of a post-Brexit EU commerce deal has given us a better diploma of certainty as to what Brexit will actually imply. By the identical token, around the globe, with vaccination programmes now underway in lots of nations, a method and a nascent timeframe to sluggish and in the end finish the pandemic is forming. Such progress will assist us all plan a method forward with better confidence and a few much-needed optimism.
We should, nevertheless, resist the temptation to consider this purely as an opportunity to “get again to how issues had been” as rapidly as attainable. The disruptions we now have confronted have introduced us to a major crossroads—and a defining second in historical past. We should resolve now the place we go subsequent.
Momentum is rising across the generally said ambition to “construct again higher.” Not often has a technology of leaders, throughout communities, companies and authorities, had such a possibility to rethink the longer term.
Aspiring to higher
As we plan that future, we should consider a extra concerted give attention to different urgent points, similar to local weather change, abilities shortages and social inequality. Though excessive occasions tend to amplify unfairness inside society, they will additionally spotlight what must evolve and instil a better want and capability to make that change occur.
One of many abiding classes I take away from 2020 is that we now have found better depths of resolve, better take care of each other and much better, extra inventive problem-solving capabilities than maybe we ever realised. We should let these classes of agility and creativity grow to be a part of the muscle reminiscence that shapes how we work any more.
None of us has a “playbook” for coping with the sorts of disruption we’re going through, however amongst our responses, there can be widespread components, similar to elevated funding in digital abilities and capabilities; decreasing regional disparity to unlock alternative and untapped potential; and instigating extra sustainable methods of residing and dealing.
As we rethink our attitudes on every little thing from journey and way of life, to the function of our metropolis centres, to our international footprint, we now have a possibility not solely to consider the place we wish to go but in addition to rethink what we had earlier than; what we wish to recapture; what we wish to transfer on from; and what modifications made in haste we should always now embed.
Levers for development
Earlier than the pandemic struck, we had been already taking a look at all of the levers the UK might pull on to develop the financial system post-Brexit. These at the moment are extra vital than ever, and each nation needs to be doing one thing comparable—assessing what they will dial as much as ship improved financial efficiency and better social cohesion.
Within the UK, we recognized a possible £83bn improve to GDP that might be delivered by “levelling up” and shutting the regional productiveness gaps which exist throughout the UK.
“Levelling up” is perhaps a strapline within the UK for spreading prosperity extra evenly past London, however, importantly, it’s also related to so many different elements of the world the place jobs and alternatives are narrowly targeted geographically. The UK financial system is services-based, so guaranteeing service-based jobs are accessible in all areas is essential.
At PwC, we now have been targeted on rebalancing the numbers of our folks outdoors London, and never simply within the anticipated alternate options, similar to Manchester and Birmingham. Two years in the past, we opened an workplace in Bradford—a metropolis with larger unemployment than the nationwide common and historically much less social mobility. We’d already been doing numerous outreach to varsities in and round Bradford, in recognition of the necessity to faucet right into a wider expertise pool and the advantages to be gained from doing so. Since opening the Bradford PwC workplace in Might 2019, we now have already doubled the variety of jobs we’ve created there.
Additionally it is important the UK continues to be a horny vacation spot for international funding and an efficient buying and selling accomplice with main economies around the globe. So as to take action, we can not rely merely on present abilities, historic relationships or legacy perceptions. We have to enhance connectivity and digital infrastructure, coupled with growing nationwide capabilities in digital. We have to harness the innovation and problem-solving that got here to the fore so emphatically because the nation responded to COVID-19.
These priorities will assist us adapt and reinvent the companies, sectors and relationships we depend on to drive development.
The response to the pandemic revealed how rapidly we might overcome each inertia and assumed limitations to digital transformation, and demonstrated the crucial must put money into new applied sciences to safe our future. PwC analysis has quantified the numerous financial worth which might be delivered by 2030 by rising applied sciences, together with blockchain (US$72bn to UK GDP; US$1.76tn globally), augmented and digital actuality (US$69.3bn to UK GDP; US$1.5tn globally), and drones (£42bn to UK GDP).