What Sajid Javid’s appointment means for business in Britain

The London School of Business and Finance chief executive on whether Sajid Javid can break down the walls between workplace and classroom

Prof Maurits van Rooijen is Rector and Chief Executive of the London School of Business and Finance (LSBF)

No doubt the Conservative party is more than pleased being able to have a business secretary of their own political colour. Though, by and large, Vince Cable’s work was well received, the business community has reacted positively to the appointment of Sajid Javid.

On his appointment, Sajid Javid has made the obligatory pledge that he would dramatically cut red tape that strangles economic development. The good news is that he does not need to do much expectation management. Almost every business secretary has made this pledge on appointment and the results over the years have been rather modest, to put it diplomatically.

Of course, he does have an opportunity to show that he is serious by tackling the strangling red tape of the Home Office. But will he have the guts to pick a fight with the (self-defined) leader in waiting Teresa May? Michael Gove made an ill-advised attempt at that and is only now recovering from his wounds. It will be interesting to see if Mr Javid will have what it takes to stand up for the British business community and make sure that merit replaces political statistics when it comes to immigration and the global war for talent and investment.

There is another big opportunity for the business secretary that he himself announced on his appointment: not just to cut red tape but also to break down the walls between the workplace and the classroom. The apprenticeship scheme is an impressive move in the right direction. Both employers and students/employees will be able to benefit massively under this scheme and, as a consequence, this is likely to help economic development.

But this is only one action, in the bigger picture, work and study should have a more hybrid relationship if we want Britain to outperform others in the global knowledge-based economy. This especially applies to London, which remains very much at the core of the national economy.

I have been arguing for many years now that much of our prosperity depends on our ability to grow our efforts in both Work Integrated Learning and Learning Integrated Work (WIL and LIW). It is a big opportunity for the new business secretary to make his mark and boost our economic prospects. If he could somehow link that with the war for talent, he certainly should deserve great respect from employers and entrepreneurs.

Prof Maurits van Rooijen is Rector and Chief Executive of the London School of Business and Finance (LSBF)

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