Northern Powerhouse or Emperor’s New Clothes?

The Northern Powerhouse is very impressive. Without creating one job or generating a single pound it seems to have dominated the pages of the North East newspapers since the General Election. It has become something to get excited about, to be the focus of our aspirations and the solution to all our problems. Emperor’s New Clothes?

We should be grateful, therefore, to Manpower (“Skills shortage threatens Northern Powerhouse”) and PwC for their reality checks. They have highlighted a lack of talent – particularly in the IT sector – as a major obstacle to the momentum the Northern Powerhouse is supposed to inject into the region’s economy.

Let’s put aside the Northern Powerhouse and its promise of jam tomorrow – but only if the North East adopts elected mayors, of course. Let’s concentrate instead on tackling the skills shortage and also the challenge businesses face in engaging with the talented young people who are leaving our schools, colleges and universities in their thousands at this time of year.