As we face the prospect of Brexit, whether hard, soft or some hybrid “Hokey Cokey” model, those of us in the business support world are turning our thoughts towards the future.
The good news is that, whatever happens, the current round of publicly funded business support will stay pretty much as it is until 2022. That’s because HM Treasury have agreed, when the signed up to the current EU funding programme, to honour all commitments up to that time.
So that gives us about 3 years to plan what we want, how we want it, and to alter the shape and nature of funded business support so that it better suits the needs of business and is not constrained so much by the rules of the funders.
The other piece of good news is that the UK Government is already consulting, with business and with the current delivery partners (such as Greenborough) about how their new “Shared Prosperity Fund” can be delivered; what should be different; how we can reduce bureaucracy; and how we can improve awareness and access. This is progress.
I have been lucky enough to be involved in some of the discussions about the future of publicly funded business support. Although my voice is but one amongst thousands, I have been arguing for more longer term, strategic deployment of funds – especially in the field of enterprise education and training. As a nation, we are producing many, many highly skilled young people, with great academic or vocational qualifications. Where I think we are failing is equipping these young people with the right set of “enterprise” skills – being able to weigh up risks; understand the balance between risk and reward; realise the concept of invest to grow.
If we are serious about taking the opportunities that the Brexiteers tell us are out there, then we had better start equipping our young (and not so young!) people with the skills set and tools to realise those opportunities!
[All views are my own]