This week in policy
There once was a man named Boris. He wasn’t always so honest. He hosted lockdown dos, with plenty of booze. And now people want him kicked out of office. It’s on the front page of every newspaper in the UK, and despite his apology, BoJo clearly hasn’t learnt his lesson. He should know by now that it’s always campaigning before champagning; career before beer; deals to sign before you start on the wine...
Speaking of education, we are currently responding to a call for evidence on the future of post-16 education, specifically looking at T-Levels. These are vocational equivalent to A-Levels, and we very much welcome their introduction. But of course there's still work to do in helping employers to provide enough industry placements for T Levels. We also want the government to focus more on employability skills across academic and vocational routes, as a lot of the skills businesses look for when recruiting young people (like communication, teamwork, leadership) often aren't the focus of education.
And while T-Levels are great for gaining more skills, T-cells are great at minimising being ill. New studies have shown that those people who haven’t caught covid (yet) may have a certain amount of immunity from pre-existing T-cells. However, this good news aside, scientists have urged people not to rely on this, and to still get the vaccines and the booster.
*cough* Djokovic *cough*. Which incidentally is exactly what he was doing in an interview with a journalist while he should have been isolating. Honestly Djoko, we know you have a very good forehand, but you have room to improve when it comes to checking rules beforehand.
So even though Omicron is still very prevalent in our country, it does look like we are over the peak. Even Macron has agreed to let us back into France. Merci beaucoup, à bientôt! Our government is sticking with Plan B and has heeded our call to further decrease the number of days positive cases have to isolate for to 5 days in England. This will be very helpful given that in December, according to the ONS, 3% of the workforce was estimated to be on sick leave because of coronavirus.
Major UK supermarkets Sainsbury’s, M&S and Tesco reported they hit much higher profits in December. Apparently this has something to do with people splashing the cash on fizz over the holiday period. We’re wondering whether all that sick leave really was Covid, or whether some of that was due to the champagne... But either way, we think everyone deserved a good celebration. Cheers!
Another reason to celebrate is that yesterday, the UK government launched negotiations with India for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Here at the IoD, we very much welcome this, and are looking forward to seeing how our members will be able to best take advantage of the opportunities as the talks progress.
Next week we will be taking a look at how our economy is doing. Today, it was announced that GDP has bounced back to above pre-pandemic levels. Stats are being released on inflation on Wednesday, and it looks like it will be blowing up. But on the plus side, unemployment is going down. Clearly something is working. We will also be keeping track on how the negotiations will be faring with India, and whether or not Djokovic will be let into Australia. We’re looking forward to seeing what the week will be serving up.
APPG on taxation will discuss ways to develop a tax strategy to meet Net Zero.
UK labour market statistics for January will provide an estimate of unemployment.
Our Chief Economist Kitty Ussher is speaking at an event organised by ICAS to discuss how the government will balance their own books given how much they have spent on the pandemic. You can sign up here
I will be speaking to Nottingham Business School about the impact of coronavirus on graduating, and how the future of working will shape the skills employers look for in new graduates.
IoD London is hosting an opportunity to take stock of what the recent economic data means for the UK economy in 2022 at which Kitty Ussher will present our take on recent economic events. It’s open to all with a networking event for IoD members afterwards. You can sign up here
Kitty Ussher is also joining a panel event organised by IoD South aimed at firms considering how to raise funding, be it debt, equity or grants, at any stage of their journey, alongside industry experts from banking, venture capital and private equity. It’s open to all and the details are here