KNOWLEDGE BASE 40 HYDRAULICS & PNEUMATICS October 2021 www.hpmag.co.uk Since the turn of the last century, one of the biggest inhibitors to business growth in the UK, has been a shortage of suitably skilled workers with the right work ethic. It’s not popular to say so, and few politicians would dare to say it, but it is a fact of business life. Trade Associations such as the BFPA and its sister associations in the engineering and machinery alliance (EAMA) have been lobbying on this issue for many years, so the recent renewed interest from the Government in finally seeking to openly address this issue, is only to be welcomed. Acknowledging the problem It may have taken Brexit driving overseas workers back home and a pandemic of mammoth proportions to catalyse it, but let’s resist the temptation to be cynical. We should celebrate the fact that somebody in Government is finally acknowledging the problem publicly and is seeking to put policies in place to address it. But is it too late? Is the Prime Minister’s utopian vision of a highly paid, highly skilled workforce in a highly productive, low tax economy realistic? Irrespective of one’s political leanings, we can all agree that it is a positive goal. A better skills future – but not tomorrow The recent Government push into addressing skills shortages in the UK is welcome – but is it too late, asks Chris Buxton, outgoing CEO, the British Fluid Power Association. The BFPA is entirely apolitical and represents its members from all sides of the political ‘polygon’. However, if we are to address the skills crisis, which our members cite every time there is a discussion about the state of business, we do have to remain practical and realistic. Unlike our political masters, we are not trying to garner votes, we are trying to solve a problem for our members. There is no doubt that a more highly skilled workforce should be rewarded with higher salaries. Given their enhanced skills, one would hope that they would also be more productive, therefore helping their employer to generate more income to fund the increased salary burden (a good work ethic permitting). If a company is generating more revenue, the tax receipts going into the Government Treasury will be higher and this in turn should reduce the pressure to raise taxes, even against the backdrop of enormous debt built-up during the pandemic. Worthy aspiration If we are paying lower taxes, we will have more money in our pockets to spend on luxury goods, and in a service-dominated Chris Buxton: “The expenditure is very worthy and a good investment for the future, but the skills crisis is ‘now’, not in ten years and the thought of a highly skilled, highly paid, low tax economy, whilst very uplifting in a world much in need of some