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The chemical industry is a substantial part of the UK economy in terms of turnover, employment and trade and is anticipated to grow in the period to 2020. Value added (the measure of the work done) for chemicals and pharmaceuticals is estimated at 15 billion, or about £60 million per working day, and the combined output accounts for some 20% of all manufactured exports, worth around £50 billion per year.

But the industry faces challenges. Increasing regulatory pressures, climate change targets and growing labour costs make it difficult to compete globally and we have seen a steady reduction in jobs over recent years, in a drive by companies to do more with less.

With uncertainty as we begin to exit the EU, now, more than ever, businesses need a competent and capable workforce – one that is fully engaged with structure and processes, to ensure that everyone does what’s expected. This requires a shared vision, management alignment, and a mix of individuals who can demonstrate they have the knowledge, skills, experience and attitudes to deliver what is required, day after day.

So, what is being done?

Recognising the challenges faced by the industry, the CIA called for greater government support in the 2017 Spring Budget. Their proposals included: the development and funding of a successful industrial strategy for productivity gains and high-quality employment; lowering corporation tax while increasing investment allowances, and incentivising local innovative production; improving funding to enable better fulfilment of energy and climate change regulations; and not restricting the availability of skilled people post-Brexit.

The CBI has also called on the Government to set out a clear mission to make the UK economy more open, innovative and inclusive, to enable it to become the most competitive in the world by 2030. The UK2030 action plan covers 6 main areas: building a clear vision to energise all parts of the economy; putting policies in place for growth considering skills, infrastructure, energy and taxation; innovation; living standards; more collaborative working; and better long-term planning with measures for success.

The words are easy but if this can be achieved the prize is worth having. We could expect to see improvements in income levels and employment rates, and better income distribution and economic activity across the country.

Gaining Competitive Advantage through Organisational Competence

Strategic priorities such as this require supporting measures to strengthen the UK’s competitiveness and growth potential, one of which is demand-led skills development.  But while efforts to improve competency in the process industries are building, they are largely focussed on improving the technical knowhow of individuals, when what is also needed is a focus on organisational learning – to increase, disseminate and retain knowledge at every level within businesses, within a defined structure, to retain collective knowledge and promote succession planning.

At HFL Consulting we have and continue to work hard to support skills development in the high hazard industries, recognising not least that our own success as a service provider is tied to the success of the industry overall.

Using established tools and techniques we help to map out training needs, put Competence Management Systems in place based on recognised good practice guidance, and deliver tailored training to meet individual and company needs, through a mix of accredited and regulated training programmes, to deliver measurable benefits in operational and safety performance.

Contact HFL Consulting today and learn more about our training services here.

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