5 key growth areas for jobs and the economy - Business Works
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5 key growth areas for jobs and the economy

Andrew Sissons of the Big Innovation Centre T he government must throw its weight behind the five key sectors that could pull Britain clear of recession and create a wave of new jobs. The recent job figures have added to the gloom surrounding the UK economy, but a recent report from the Big Innovation Centre suggests that Britain still has some major economic strengths that can be built upon. It argues, for Britain to achieve its full potential in these areas, the government must change its approach to the economy and deal with the fundamental issues that are holding back growth in these areas.

The report, The Next Wave of Innovation: Five areas that could pull Britain clear of recession highlights the low-resource economy, healthcare, the experience economy (improving consumer experience), business services and the digital economy as Britains best hopes for an escape from stagnation.

It shows that over 70% of Britains economic growth since 1979 has been due to increased consumer spending, which cannot be sustained in the future. The only viable economic model for the next decade is to unleash a new wave of innovation, beginning with these five key areas of the economy.

"The economic headlines may be getting worse day by day, but Britain has some real opportunities to build on its biggest strengths," says Andrew Sissons, report author. "However, unless the government and business community can get to grips with the issues facing these parts of the economy, there is a real danger that we will miss out."

"There has been a lot of talk about how we need to avoid 'picking winners', and that is broadly right. But we cant pretend that every part of the economy needs exactly the same things. If we treat the digital economy just like the healthcare sector, were unlikely to get sufficient growth in either."

The report reveals that the healthcare industry is likely to grow due to the increasing demands placed on it by an ageing population. In response, public and private healthcare providers will need to become more efficient while raising care standards. In particular, it is likely that many care roles will become more highly skilled and highly valued in the future.

The low-resource economy, such as renewable energy, will be driven by the dual challenges of climate change and the growing scarcity of global resources, especially oil. Any companies that can find ways of producing high-quality goods with few resources are likely to thrive, whether they are energy companies, manufacturers or supermarkets.

The experience economy, which is on the rise as traditional roles in manufacturing decline, will see an increased focus on customer care. Many companies, including retailers and manufacturers, will be able to make money by focusing on the quality of experiences they provide to their customers. This could create a wide range of new jobs, such as data analysts, relationship managers and service designers.

Business services, which have been the engine of Britains economic growth over recent decades, will continue to grow rapidly as the economy gets more complex. We will see more professions like lawyers, management consultants and computer programmers over the next decade, all demanding highly skilled workers.

Finally, the digital economy is an area that Britain really excels in, and which we need to turn into a centrepiece of our economy. The UK has thousands of brilliant creative companies, and the growing importance of the internet has given them a new range of opportunities to experiment and grow. The proliferation of mobile devices, like smartphones and tablet computers has provided a new avenue for innovation and growth in digital activities.

"Each of these industries works on different principles and there is much scope for the government to help unlock growth in each of them," adds Andrew. "For instance, firms in the experience economy would benefit from having Centres of Excellence to help them develop their business models, while business service firms need help to export more. In the digital economy, the real issue is about helping content providers make money, and there are a number of options like the digital license fee that the government can look at."

The report highlights some of the specific policies that each of these areas of the economy needs and is part of a series of research papers produced to mark the launch of the Big Innovation Centre, which is a new initiative from The Work Foundation and Lancaster University. A copy can be downloaded at: www.biginnovationcentre.com.

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