Chamber sets out to lead employment, skills and inclusion work
Following last week’s Summer Statement by chancellor Rishi Sunak on the next phase of the government’s response to the Covid 19 pandemic focused on job retention and creation, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce is developing its response and work around the employment, skills and inclusion agenda, to help address the impact of Covid-19 on vulnerable parts of society.
As part of its ongoing Campaign for Business work the Chamber is focusing its post-covid recovery work under the banner of “The Way Forward” and amongst a wide range of issues, the impact of the economic slowdown and job losses is high on the agenda.
Chris Fletcher, policy, campaigns and communications director at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said: “The work of the Chamber in helping businesses and society is absolutely crucial as we move into the recovery phase of the pandemic.
“Skills, employment and inclusion issues were not perfect before Covid; but they’ve got a lot worse since and the future threat is very real. In addition to the existing long-term problems, there is the capacity for a short to medium term flood of newly unemployed into the mix and we will see disproportionate impacts in areas and certain groups within our communities. Since the announcement last week we have seen a rapid increase in headlines around more job losses on the high street.
“The chancellor made a good start on Wednesday but many people and businesses are saying more still needs to be done to fully offset not only the damage that could be caused but to make sure the recovery delivers what people were expecting of it. At the start of lockdown there were some outstanding ideas about what a recovery needed to deliver. Businesses see this as a chance to do the right thing, seize innovative opportunities to solve deep, underlying employment, skills and inclusion issues in a constructive and productive way. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
“Whilst the chancellor is looking at doing the right thing, the amounts involved may need to be quickly revisited if they are to make any impact in the immediate short term. The danger is that many businesses, despite the help on offer so far, are facing a real cliff edge over the next few weeks and months and some unpalatable decisions are looming. It’s vital that we help support and look at new ways that will help business survival and for those who do lose their jobs that every element of support is available.
“The concern is that the chancellor is using a bit of a sticking plaster approach when major surgery is perhaps the only answer.
“With over 5,000 businesses in our membership, we are the largest Chamber nationally and work with and provide a valuable interface between business and decision makers locally and nationally. We will be focused to help with the GM skills, employment & inclusion ‘recovery’ agenda in the most practical ways possible, as this plays a vital role in the Chambers continued impact and overarching purpose.”
A small working group has been established by the Chamber to focus on the ‘GM Recovery’ activity related to the employment, skills and inclusion issues, where Dr. Claire Handby MAPM FCIOB will be a contributing member as an appointed policy advisor.