World wide, each nation is coping with important disruptions. Some are international, reminiscent of COVID-19. Others are extra native, reminiscent of 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 subjects. 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 larger diploma of certainty as to what Brexit will actually imply. By the identical token, all over the world, with vaccination programmes now underway in lots of international locations, a way and a nascent timeframe to sluggish and in the end finish the pandemic is forming. Such progress will assist us all plan a manner forward with larger confidence and a few much-needed optimism.
We should, nonetheless, resist the temptation to think about this purely as an opportunity to “get again to how issues have been” as shortly as potential. The disruptions we have now confronted have introduced us to a big crossroads—and a defining second in historical past. We should determine now the place we go subsequent.
Momentum is rising across the generally said ambition to “construct again higher.” Hardly ever 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 think about a extra concerted deal with different urgent points, reminiscent of local weather change, abilities shortages and social inequality. Though excessive occasions generally tend to amplify unfairness inside society, they will additionally spotlight what must evolve and instil a larger need and capability to make that change occur.
One of many abiding classes I take away from 2020 is that we have now found larger depths of resolve, larger take care of each other and much larger, 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 dealing with, however amongst our responses, there can be frequent parts, reminiscent of 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 all the pieces from journey and life-style, to the function of our metropolis centres, to our international footprint, we have now a possibility not solely to consider the place we need to go but additionally to rethink what we had earlier than; what we need to recapture; what we need to transfer on from; and what adjustments made in haste we must always now embed.
Levers for development
Earlier than the pandemic struck, we have been already taking a look at all of the levers the UK may pull on to develop the financial system post-Brexit. These at the moment are extra vital than ever, and each nation ought to be doing one thing related—assessing what they will dial as much as ship improved financial efficiency and larger social cohesion.
Within the UK, we recognized a possible £83bn enhance to GDP that might be delivered by “levelling up” and shutting the regional productiveness gaps which exist inside the UK.
“Levelling up” may be a strapline within the UK for spreading prosperity extra evenly past London, however, importantly, additionally it is related to so many different elements of the world the place jobs and alternatives are narrowly centered geographically. The UK financial system is services-based, so making certain service-based jobs are accessible in all areas is essential.
At PwC, we have now been centered on rebalancing the numbers of our individuals outdoors London, and never simply within the anticipated alternate options, reminiscent of Manchester and Birmingham. Two years in the past, we opened an workplace in Bradford—a metropolis with increased unemployment than the nationwide common and historically much less social mobility. We’d already been doing plenty of 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 Could 2019, we have now already doubled the variety of jobs we’ve created there.
It is usually important the UK continues to be a sexy vacation spot for overseas funding and an efficient buying and selling companion with main economies all over the world. 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 shortly we may overcome each inertia and assumed limitations to digital transformation, and demonstrated the crucial have to spend money on new applied sciences to safe our future. PwC analysis has quantified the numerous financial worth which may 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).