Is your Town Smart? Is your Village skilled?
Smart Cities get loads of coverage in the press. We hear how autonomous vehicles, drones, flying cars will change how we live, work and breathe in our UK cities.
But our big cities are fast becoming islands of prosperity. Meanwhile many parts of the UK feel beleaguered, cut off and left out.
What are often overlooked in the excitement of building smart cities are the needs of suburban towns and rural villages.
And Government data doesn’t help. In fact, it confuses us!
We hear that since 2001 there has been a 37% increase in the rural population aged over 65. This combined with a large exodus of younger age groups, leads to an ageing society in rural areas.
Meanwhile, there has been a large inward migration of working age individuals from urban areas into some rural areas. This will and bought in new skills and entrepreneurialism.
On the 16th January, 2019, the Government published it’s statement of rural research priorities. A framework for research and evidence relating to rural economies and communities.
It sets an agenda for academia and research councils to develop research on rural communities. Research that supports the development, implementation and evaluation of public policy.
Where is the Talent?
A view of the talent that exists in the towns and villages is missing. That gap will not be filled by by academia and research bodies.
We want people based in the towns and villages to register their skills so that we can help business understand where the skills are in the UK.
This will attract employers to an area where, for example, developers are prevalent, lawyers congregate or we have mapped an established group of data scientists.
The UK has an enormous amount to offer in terms of untapped talent, knowledge and know how – but some of it is in rural areas. These rural towns and villages also have spaces.
Some are unused during the day or at certain times of the year – village halls, local community centres, hotels, pubs and clubs which could be easily turned into work units for permanent or temporary employment.
Take, for example, St Agnes in Cornwall. Home to fast broadband and many amazing customer service experts who hone their skills during the busy tourist season but many of whom have no choice but to sit twiddling their thumbs during the winter.
Meanwhile, the City based insurance sector has it’s busiest times during the storm season at the early part of the year and with a tightening labour market will struggle to find talent.
So why not train up an small army of experts to field the first calls – signpost customers to the right documents or help with completing the claim process.
Broaden this philosophy to cover Cornwall as a country and we may see a blue print for restoring national unity in the UK.
The gorgeous City of Truro is facing similar High Street challenges as we see country wide. Some of it’s vacant premises could act as a hubs for people from the local villages to collaborate and work. Truro could connect with other South West counties to create a smart working region.
If we know what talent we have and where those talented people live, we have a chance of matching them to demand, whether that be in person or virtually using technology.
It will also help us to understand what transport systems we really need to have in place for the future.
We can improve the productivity of our nation by moving people in a much more efficient and cost effective manner to places where demand for skills exists.
Most of all, it will reduce loneliness and lack of purpose found in areas where jobs are scarce.
Before we get ahead of ourselves – we need to map that talent. We are actively seeking partners in telecoms, hub management, economic development, employment, recruitment. The partners will help us get a joined up talent map for the UK off the ground.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a call to discuss your business needs.
Kick start your career with our Smart Leaders Masterclass – Cornwall on 25th June