BRIAN McBride, the Glasgow-born businessman, has called on the UK Government to move to identify sectors that could benefit from migration policy changes, and for flexibility from both sides over the Northern Ireland Brexit impasse that is holding back opportunities.
In his first major speech as Confederation of British Industry president, Mr McBride said businesses must scale up, build innovative UK and global partnerships, and embrace new digital and tech skills for employees in a changing economy.
Mr McBride, who led Amazon’s expansion in this country as UK chief executive, called on firms to “step up and adapt” not “hunker down and wait” if they want to compete in the tech-first global economy.
“Right now, we’re a magnet for tech investment – globally we’re second only to the US,” he said. “That’s helped make the UK one of only three countries, alongside the US and China, with over a hundred $1bn unicorn companies.
“In the US they are already creating a new generation – ‘decacorns’, businesses that scale to $10bn in value. But at the CBI, we believe the UK can step up and match that. We want to knock down the blockers holding them back and find smart solutions to boost their success.”
On building partnerships, he said: “Our clearest and easiest opportunities here are still just across the Channel in the EU. But we still can’t seize all of the opportunities from our trade deal – in areas like Horizon Europe – because of the impasse on the Northern Ireland Protocol.
“We need flexibility from both sides so we can unblock those untapped prizes in tech, research and innovation.”
He added: “There’s no doubt the biggest blocker to business is labour and skills shortages.
“In the short-term, Government can help firms by delivering the new Shortage Occupation List. It could also empower the Migration Advisory Committee to diagnose shortages in lower-skilled roles.”
Mr McBride said the CBI is also pressing government on connectivity to allow firms to catch up on digital which he said is “one of the basics we need to get ahead”.
New flights planned between Scotland and France
A FRENCH businessman has revealed plans for a newly formed airline to operate a regular service between Scotland and the north west of France.
The plans would see Lorizon Aircraft operate a three-weekly service between Inverness Airport and Lorient-Bretagne-Sud Airport in Brittany.
Hospitality group freezes food and drink prices
ONE of Scotland’s biggest hospitality groups has frozen food and drink prizes across its portfolio to help customers amid the cost-of-living crisis deepens.
Manorview, which operates 11 venues across central Scotland, has also increased the pay of all employees who will all share 10 per cent of the net profits made by the company during its most recent financial year in January.
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