Highly Skilled, Highly Valued

Over the last three decades, the county’s economic performance has declined, particularly when compared to neighbouring regions such as Manchester.

We are justifiably proud of our aerospace heritage but we cannot let it define us. We must invest in other high value sectors, too, such as technology and innovation, food and drink, manufacturing, healthcare and creative/digital and professional services. We must all do more to support an ecosystem in which both new and established Lancashire businesses can thrive.

This requires a vision to create the necessary economic conditions and to attract inward investment. We also need to better understand the investment potential of our existing businesses and align local skills with the requirements of employers and economic growth in general. Better alignment between education and enterprise will undoubtedly enhance employment opportunities.

It’s important that the education process starts young. Entrepreneurship is a crucial economic driver and it can be an immensely rewarding career path, so let’s open young people’s eyes to the opportunities it affords and let’s catch them at primary school age where such ideas might spark their imagination and a life-long enthusiasm.

An early appreciation for enterprise sets a foundation for a process of learning that should continue throughout adulthood. The workplace can make an excellent seat of learning because it is firmly and immediately tied to the realities of demand. Skills are perhaps the most marketable of all commodities and when it comes to employability and career opportunities, the market will certainly dictate which skill sets are really worth having.

We need to reflect on our experiences and make this matter a key focus if we are to succeed in delivering prosperity for our local communities. Global evidence has continually demonstrated that a prosperous environment creates the necessary conditions for addressing many of the community ailments and social issues that concern us all – education, crime, health, community cohesion and housing. This requires an approach that recognises all dimensions of the community as an asset and actively promotes closer collaboration in order to create an environment in which highly skilled means highly valued.

Ilyas Munshi