techUK's Deputy CEO Antony Walker urges you to sit up and take notice of a major new report by Sherry Coutu CBE
At last week's Future Shock conference there were a few nervous faces in the room when it was suggested that 35% of all UK jobs are at high risk of being automated in the next 20 years. Whilst industrial automation has been constant theme of economic history it is the scale and pace at which service jobs are being automated that has got serious people worrying about where all the new jobs are going to come from to keep people employed and the economy growing.
And this is where the Sherry Coutu Scale-Up Report comes in. There is now clear evidence that the vast majority of net employment growth comes from a relatively small number of highly productive, fast growing firms. Described as 'scale-ups', these companies can be start-ups, small or mid-sized, new or long established. But the key differentiator is that they have started to grow and expand, creating new, often high-value, jobs as they go.
The significance of these scale-ups for economic growth couldn't be simpler. In world of relentless technological innovation and digital disruption, the only way to stay ahead of the game is to ensure you create more high-value jobs than you lose and you continually raise your productivity. The key metric for successful economies over the next 20 years won't be how many new companies they can create, but how many of those companies they can get to scale.
So Sherry Coutu is calling for a significant pivot in the UK's industrial policy. Whilst promoting entrepreneurship and start-ups is clearly important it won't be enough in itself to ensure economic growth. Similar effort now needs to be paid to help more successful growing companies reach scale more quickly and to ensure that where possible, those companies choose to stay and grow from here in the UK.
The Scale-Up Report, which techUK helped to produce, presents a set of clear and actionable recommendations that all political parties should study carefully ahead of the next General Election. The UK's success in supporting start-ups over the last five years has been remarkable. If we can repeat that success with scale-ups over the next five years, we will have every chance of creating more jobs than we lose in the years ahead.