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Friday, 22 October 2010

Friday Guest Blog

Lessons to be learned from the Manchester Model: CIPD’s platform for business and jobs to lift economic gloom.

By Dr John Philpott, Chief Economic Adviser, CIPD.

As important as the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) is, another soon to be published official document, the government’s strategy for economic growth, will aim to contrast the pain associated with the CSR, with the prospect of sustained economic gain. It is set to provide the main context for debate when HR professionals from around the UK and abroad gather in Manchester early next month for the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s (CIPD) Annual Conference and Exhibition.

While our delegates are likely to be exercised by the national, regional and local impact of spending cuts – especially those working for public sector organisations hoping for practical ideas on how to do ‘more with less’ – the CIPD’s principal aim is to lift the evident economic gloom with a positive message about boosting business, improving the leadership and management capacity of UK plc, and creating the additional private sector jobs needed as state payrolls are slimmed down.

It’s clear that as a country we need to secure the emerging economic recovery by increasing the flow of finance to business – especially the SME sector – and ensure that employers are not unduly burdened by red tape. We also need continued investment in skills and infrastructure to help rebalance the economy toward high growth sectors, especially low carbon production, and raise productivity. And we need to enable company bosses and managers to improve their capacity to lead, engage staff and make the most of all the talent they employ. Only in this way will the economy drive the growth that ultimately creates future job opportunities.

These are of course generic needs. They obviously vary from region to region, locality to locality, variation that in turn requires different types of local response. And such difference is likely to be crucial in the coming period of fiscal austerity as the spending squeeze bites into some communities much deeper than others. Yet while there is no one size fits all response to the challenges facing different localities there are lessons to be drawn from areas such as Greater Manchester which wisely used the years of relative prosperity to move toward exactly the kind of collaborative growth strategy involving private business and public sector bodies that will be of crucial importance to securing economic growth throughout the remainder of this decade.

When staging last year’s annual conference in Manchester for the first time the CIPD was greatly impressed by the vibrancy and degree of innovative activity displayed both by the business community, especially Chamber of Commerce members, and local authorities in all parts of the city region. Although it is clear that success has yet to permeate to the most deprived areas where long-term joblessness persists, and that everywhere there is continued need for investment in skills and improvements in management capability, the fact that the local economy proved resilient in coping with the ravages of a major global recession is testimony to what I guess some might call the “Manchester Model”.

In bringing our own brand of knowledge and expertise about people management and development to the city next month we at the CIPD are eager to get further first-hand accounts of your experience of business growth and how this experience might be transferred onto the broader national and local stage. While we have our own ideas on a platform for growth we’re always in listening mode and would be delighted to hear what you have to contribute. Join us as we forge a path through the gloom and onward to a brighter future.

Dr John Philpott will feature as a panellist at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s (CIPD) Annual Conference and Exhibition, 9-11 November, in the closing keynote “Forging a New Path Forward”, with Chris Grayling, Minister for Employment, Lucy Adams, Director of People, BBC, and Gail Cartmail, Assistant General Secretary, Public Service, Unite the Union.

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