Justin Rix, Head of People Advisory, Grant Thornton UK LLP, commented:
“With the current economic situation, the skills agenda has never been more important so there were some welcome announcements in today’s speech by the Chancellor. The incentives for businesses to revisit and build talent strategies are particularly important in an environment where business models have fundamentally been changed by lockdown. As new and different business needs emerge, businesses have to consider the different types of skills they require, both now and in the future.
“The Job Retention Bonus is a positive incentive to help reintegrate people back into work and encourage employers to continue investing in their people. It is likely to play a key role in helping some businesses to preserve important roles that might otherwise have been lost to cost reductions. However, if a business has already identified roles that are either not needed or cannot be afforded in the longer term, then the short term benefits of the bonus may not be enough to encourage a significant change in strategy. What the bonus may do is encourage some creative thinking from business about how they can help their furloughed workers to acquire the new skills to be able to fulfill new roles in the organisation. In order to do this successfully, businesses will need to carefully consider reintegration and retention strategies for their employees.
“It is also positive to see support in the form of apprenticeships for those aged 25 and over. In the face of widespread job losses, with some industries more affected than others, this proposal provides hope for people who may need to change careers and learn new skills to find employment. Increased support for apprenticeships over the next six months is a further promising opportunity for businesses to fill important skills gaps, helping to drive improved business agility and resilience; and also to develop vital digital skills that will help move them in to the future.”