The British Chambers of Commerce and Barclays LifeSkills have released a new report entitled ‘The Next Normal: Futureproofing the Workforce for a Post-Pandemic World’.
The report seeks to tackle questions around the workforce challenges faced by businesses during the pandemic, and how companies can support their staff in the future.
It also highlights the need for employers to be ready to adapt their training priorities in order to help the next generation of school-leavers enter the workforce in a markedly changed, and still changing, workplace.
The findings were discussed during a series of online roundtables with members of the Chambers of Commerce Network from around the UK, conducted between November 2020 and February 2021. They provided valuable insights into the workforce challenges faced by businesses on the ground during the pandemic.
During the roundtables, employers described the challenges of adapting to a fully online working environment, necessitated by the pandemic. They detailed how effective communication across new digital channels had become a key component in their workplace. Companies see it as a priority that young people gain these skills very early in their careers, while the existing workforce is rapidly up-skilled to adapt.
In terms of attracting new talent digitally, businesses found on-line recruitment processes had worked well and had given them access to a much larger pool of candidates. Employees saw greater appreciation from employers of their wide-ranging motivations, which was reflected in more flexible working arrangements.
Responding to the report, Hannah Essex, Co-Executive Director of the BCC, said:
“This report contains some really crucial insights into the way employers have managed their workforces throughout the unbelievably testing circumstances of the last year, and how they view the route forward post-pandemic.
“It tells us that companies are now looking to the future of the workforce and are keen to grab hold of opportunities for greater productivity and improved wellbeing for their employees.
“But firms will need more support to ensure their staff thrive. The capability to adapt to shifting training priorities and new ways of working across the board will be a key strength for any organisation.
“As firms look to recover from the effects of the pandemic it is also vital the next generation of employees coming into the workforce are equipped with the abilities that companies value most. The Accredited Chamber Network can have a big role to play in supporting that.”
Kirstie Mackey, Head of Barclays LifeSkills, said:
“It’s vital for the recovery of the economy that everyone has access to the skills they need to thrive.
“Our programme has supported 12.4 million people so far to access the skills and support they need, whether preparing for a first job, progressing in their career, or even starting their own business.
“Recognising the need for the same support for businesses to help the next generation, in 2020 LifeSkills developed new resources to equip businesses and their employees with the support they need to adjust to a rapidly changing working world, whilst rebuilding their confidence.
“We launched a new digital business hub, alongside our other content which supports families and teachers, to specifically help businesses with all kinds of practical advice, from managing finances to health and wellbeing tips. We look forward to continuing to work with Accredited Chambers of Commerce to help businesses futureproof their workforce and access the support they need.”