Millennials matter to the future of the Northern economy – we need to shift our focus20 Nov, 2017
The IPPR North think-tank’s annual State of the North report has this year focused front and centre on the region’s young people, right down to its slightly provocative tagline ‘the millennial powerhouse’.
The research has found, of course, that our young people will soon become proper adults. That means that they will soon be in charge, which sounds great until you remember: there will be more older people than ever before, Brexit means the country’s economic future is unclear and our great tech transformation might have eradicated large numbers of jobs.
“While a lot of focus in policy world on the challenges our economy will face with lots of older people,” highlights IPPR researcher and Northern Voices participant Grace Blakeley, “this report shows that we also have an increasingly competent, diverse and ambitious cohort of young people who will need to drive economic growth over the next few decades.”
“The key thing to take away from this report, for me, is about skills,” she adds. “We already have a significant digital skills gap between London and the rest of the country, and if we don’t make sure that we invest in the physical and social infrastructure necessary to make the Northern economy fit for the fourth industrial revolution, then the gap will continue to widen.”
Blakeley says that the North needs both investment in human capital, ensuring young people have the skills to adapt to a changing economy, as well as things like broadband and the other physical infrastructure.
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Grace is an expert on local economies in the North, digital skills and public service innovation. You can view Grace’s profile or book her to speak at your event.
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There are other approaches that can be adopted in parallel and produce skilled people faster. To become proficient in computing requires a 5-10k hours BOK (body of knowledge).
People in their 60s already have 10kBOK (often a lot more) and the notion that people should stop work at 65 is ridiculous. Two seniors in Google’s AI group (Geoffrey Hinton and Ray Kurzweil) are both 69. So one action should be to encourage older people to keep working.
Secondly, the North is in competition with the South for talent and the major attraction of working in the North is the much lower cost of housing – one third the cost of places like Cambridge and Winchester.
Finally, if companies cannot attract the skills they need there are 5 simple actions they can take – see https://wp.me/p7MvnT-kn