UK businesses must be more creative

Link: Hewitt proposes new ‘not-for-profit’ company

The UK must do a better job at developing IT and management skills – or risk losing out to rising stars in the form of offshore competitors, according to a cabinet minister.

Speaking at the Internet World show in London, trade and industry secretary Patricia Hewitt warned that UK businesses needed to accept that global competition was a reality, and do a better job of turning ideas into products and companies.

‘India is creating quarter-of-a-million new IT and science graduates every year and challenging us for call centre and back office jobs. We have to respond to that challenge but not with protectionist barriers and pretending that technological change isn’t going to happen,’ Hewitt said.

‘We need to produce people with better skills, help businesses create better products and services that everyone around the world wants to buy, and develop people with the management skills to fight off these challenges,’ Hewitt added.

Hewitt admitted that red tape was still a huge issue facing smaller companies but said it was something her department was keen to simplify. ‘We know our prosperity depends on business success and increasingly the jobs and the new ideas come from small companies. Raising the rate of entrepreneurship is central to our policy,’ Hewitt said.

The Department of Trade and Industry has launched a consultation on directors’ pay, which could lead to the curbing of the ‘fat cat’ pay culture which means that even directors who have made disastrous judgements have still walked away with millions.

Hewitt said that although the internet boom and bust had cost shareholders billions, it had also resulted in some ‘very good high tech companies’.

‘We went through an extraordinary bubble with “dot-connery” but I also think that we’ve been left with some very good hi tech companies and we’ve made it much easier for start ups to bring in very experienced people by offering them share options as part of the package,’ Hewitt said. ‘Finding ways in which employees can share in equity is hugely important.’

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