Attracting and retaining talent is top policy priority for capital’s firms

Over four fifths (81%) of respondents believe the capital remains attractive for UK business leaders, according to the latest CBI London Business Survey.

But considering London’s global appeal against the backdrop of globalisation and growing international protectionism, close to a third (32%) of the Survey’s 215 respondents feel there is potential for London’s position to weaken overall and in specific industries.

Beyond Brexit, people, infrastructure, skills and the environment are the top policy priorities for the capital’s business community. Attracting and retaining talent and skills of all levels into London is the top consideration for close to half of respondents (45%). Together with this, increasing workplace diversity and inclusion and ensuring the next generation is “work ready”, are the top priorities for 29% of respondents, followed by delivering major infrastructure projects (28%) and affordable housing to buy and rent (26%). A quarter (25%) of respondents want to see greater action on climate change and sustainability.

London’s firms are keen to strengthen their ties with universities, one of the city’s great strengths. Nearly two thirds (65%) of larger companies (over 500 employees) who responded have worked with universities, but less than a third (31%) of smaller firms have done so. A university’s expertise in a specific subject or area of research, such as economics, is the principal reason for businesses wanting to collaborate.

Eddie Curzon, CBI London Director said,“Despite the continuing Brexit turbulence and uncertainty, we must never forget just how many underlying strengths London has – from our booming and innovative creative, technology and financial services sectors to our world-leading universities.

“It’s vital that firms, politicians and City Hall work together to protect and support the diverse skills and talent that abound in the capital and London’s hard-earned reputation as one of the world’s greatest cities for firms to grow and invest in.

“Continuing to attract the brightest and best students and workers; improving our infrastructure; delivering affordable places to live; and tackling our contribution to climate change will place London on a sure, stable and secure footing for the future.”

The Survey also highlights the importance of technology to the capital’s firms, with 87% of respondents viewing it as driving greater efficiency and 77% believing it delivers better products and services. However, over three quarters (78%) of respondents say they sometimes have insufficient in-house skill and expertise to assess and adopt new technologies.

Editor: James Norris Resource from CBI