All over the world, each nation is coping with vital disruptions. Some are international, comparable to COVID-19. Others are extra native, comparable to Brexit right here within the UK.
In very other ways, the disruptions and challenges of each COVID-19 and Brexit have made us pause and rethink a broad vary of matters. 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 better 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 method and a nascent timeframe to gradual and finally finish the pandemic is forming. Such progress will assist us all plan a manner forward with better confidence and a few much-needed optimism.
We should, nevertheless, resist the temptation to think about this purely as an opportunity to “get again to how issues had been” as rapidly as potential. The disruptions we’ve got confronted have introduced us to a major crossroads—and a defining second in historical past. We should determine now the place we go subsequent.
Momentum is rising across the generally acknowledged ambition to “construct again higher.” Hardly ever has a technology of leaders, throughout communities, companies and authorities, had such a chance 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, comparable to local weather change, abilities shortages and social inequality. Though excessive occasions tend to amplify unfairness inside society, they’ll additionally spotlight what must evolve and instil a better want and capability to make that change occur.
One of many abiding classes I take away from 2020 is that we’ve got found better depths of resolve, better take care of each other and much better, 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 further.
None of us has a “playbook” for coping with the sorts of disruption we’re dealing with, however amongst our responses, there might be widespread components, comparable to elevated funding in digital abilities and capabilities; lowering regional disparity to unlock alternative and untapped potential; and instigating extra sustainable methods of residing and dealing.
As we rethink our attitudes on every thing from journey and life-style, to the function of our metropolis centres, to our international footprint, we’ve got a chance 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 modifications made in haste we should always now embed.
Levers for development
Earlier than the pandemic struck, we had been already all of the levers the UK might pull on to develop the financial system post-Brexit. These are actually extra vital than ever, and each nation must be doing one thing related—assessing what they’ll dial as much as ship improved financial efficiency and better social cohesion.
Within the UK, we recognized a possible £83bn improve to GDP that may very well be delivered by “levelling up” and shutting the regional productiveness gaps which exist throughout the UK.
“Levelling up” is likely to be a strapline within the UK for spreading prosperity extra evenly past London, however, importantly, it is usually related to so many different components 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 vital.
At PwC, we’ve got been centered on rebalancing the numbers of our individuals outdoors London, and never simply within the anticipated alternate options, comparable to 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 quite a lot 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 Might 2019, we’ve got already doubled the variety of jobs we’ve created there.
It is usually important the UK continues to be a pretty vacation spot for international 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 current abilities, historic relationships or legacy perceptions. We have to enhance connectivity and digital infrastructure, coupled with rising 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 rapidly we might overcome each inertia and assumed boundaries to digital transformation, and demonstrated the vital must spend money on new applied sciences to safe our future. PwC analysis has quantified the numerous financial worth which could 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).