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Government's industrial strategy must make young people 'key priority' says South East Local Enterprise Partnership chairman

By Chris Price

The government must focus on skills if its new industrial strategy launched this week is to work, according to a leading business figure.

Investing in young people is a “key priority” according to Christian Brodie, chairman of South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP), which bids for government investment in Kent and surrounding areas.

On Monday, Business Secretary Greg Clark, who is the MP for Tunbridge Wells, launched a white paper on the industrial strategy.

Investment in training young people is essential to the success of the industrial strategy, according to SELEP
Investment in training young people is essential to the success of the industrial strategy, according to SELEP

It commits to invest a further £725 million in the industrial strategy challenge fund over the next three years, on top of £1 billion already put forward.

The government also aims to raise total research and development investment to 2.4% of GDP by 2027 and increase the rate of R&D tax credit to 12%.

It also wants to establish a technical education system that “rivals the best in the world” and invest an extra £406 million in maths, digital and technical education.

There will also be a £64 million investment for digital and construction training.

South East Local Enterprise Partnership chairman Christian Brodie
South East Local Enterprise Partnership chairman Christian Brodie

Mr Brodie said the white paper sets out an “ambitious vision for the country”.

He said: “Investing in our young people is a key priority for business.

“At a recent SELEP event, 71% of the audience felt the biggest challenge facing their business was recruiting and retaining skilled young people.

“We will be presenting our strategic economic plan to government shortly and believe that our own industrial strategy will build on the area’s strengths and improve local productivity and deliver national economic growth.”

Kent Medical Campus will be built near Junction 7 of the M20
Kent Medical Campus will be built near Junction 7 of the M20

The strategy was also welcomed by JLL, the property advisers for Kent Medical Campus, the home to KIMS Hospital and other businesses in Maidstone.

Director Gary Watson said: “This is an exciting strategy when viewed from our perspective as its key elements of cultivating ideas, good jobs and greater earning power, upgrading infrastructure and creating the best places to start and grow businesses mirror the philosophy of the Kent Medical Campus.”

Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “The way we earn and live our lives as workers, citizens and consumers is being transformed by new technologies.

“The UK is well-placed to benefit from this new industrial revolution and we start from a position of significant strength.

Business Secretary and Tunbridge Wells MP Greg Clark
Business Secretary and Tunbridge Wells MP Greg Clark

“We have a thriving research and science base and are home to a wide range of innovative sectors, from advanced manufacturing and life sciences, to fintech and creative industries.

“The industrial strategy is an unashamedly ambitious vision for the future of our country, laying out how we tackle our productivity challenge, earn our way in the future, and improve living standards across the country.”

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