Category Archives: In The Press

Fallout Still Being Felt After Strikes At Port of Los Angeles

West Coast Port Strikes Start to Play Out

Port of Los Angeles Strike Effects

Earlier this year we covered a story about delays caused by industrial action at ports on the US West Coast. This week, the Port of Los Angeles has released some troubling statistics that point to the long-term impact of this action.

Despite a significant rise in container volumes for the month of March, cargo volumes at the port have dropped drastically in April.

Expectations of a full recovery were bolstered by strong showings in the month of March, after an agreement was finally reached with West Coast port employees and the longshore workers union. The agreement led to the clearance of a backlog of ships that had been present at the Los Angeles port for months.

March was in fact, the second busiest month in history for the Los Angeles Port facility. However, the huge 11.8 per cent drop in cargo volume recorded in April suggests that the increased activity was merely clearing the backlog and that cargo figures may remain low on an ongoing basis.

Major US ports have long been seen as an indicator of the health of the US retail sector. Normally, when shipping volumes are decreasing the retail sector follows and starts to slow. However, further highlighting the concerns of West Coast ports, is the fact that cargo volumes at Los Angeles are falling at a far greater rate than at other ports across the nation. This suggests that rather than broad sectoral problems, this issue is specific to the port and the industrial action.

It is thought that during the months-long dispute (where work essentially ground to a halt), many firms made alternate arrangements and instead shipped into Mexico, Canada or ports on the US east coast.

It will likely take some time to determine exactly where the chips will fall in this matter. Major importers will be reluctant to walk away from the huge infrastructure and warehousing investments they’ve made near the Port of Los Angeles and will likely return to shipping goods through the port. However, the many small and medium sized firms that established alternate shipping routes to deal with the delays brought on by industrial action may be less inclined to return to the port.

Supply Chain Disruption – When Rockets Blow Up

Stick a rocket up your supply chain…

Exploding rockets in your supply chain

When we talk about supply chains, we often discuss the ‘critical path’. The term is used to give firms an understanding of the earliest and latest a certain activity can take place without having an impact on a projects overall timeline. It is also used to point out areas of importance and concern within a supply chain.

Earlier this week, Inmarsat, a British provider of global satellite communications, saw a significant issue reoccur on its critical path. The rockets the firm uses to deliver its satellites into space keep blowing up!

On Monday, the firm was forced to announce a further delay to the launch of a third satellite for its global broadband service, Global Xpress, (designed to provide high speed broadband to users at sea, in the air, and in remote regions). The delay was due to an ongoing investigation into a Russian supplier that provides the firm with the rockets used to put its satellites into orbit.

The supplier has faced numerous issues with its 53m tall Proton-M rocket in the last five years. The most recent of which occurred last week when a Proton-M rocket (the same model used by Inmarsat), carrying a Mexican satellite, exploded shortly (eight minutes) after take off. Fortunately, the explosion took place at an altitude where any debris was burnt off before returning to earth.

This is the third time Inmarsat has faced delays due to issues with Russian rockets. In 2013 the second satellite in the program was delayed after a similar explosion cast doubt over the mission.

The recent issues have forced the Russian Space Agency to postpone all activities until a full investigation has been carried out. As suggested by Inmarsat CEO, Rupert Pearce, these investigations could take some time and will have a significant impact on when the Global Xpress programme can resume.

“This is the third time our Global Xpress programme has suffered launch delays because of Proton launch failures. Although in the past, Proton has returned to flight within a few months of a launch failure, it will not be possible to determine the length of the delay in the launch of I-5 F3 until the cause of the Centenario launch failure is established. Customers are understandably anxious to see the delivery of GX services on a global basis, and as soon as we have sufficient information to ascertain the new launch date for I-5 F3, we will make the information public, as well as comment further on the impact of the delayed launch of I-5 F3.” He said.

The issues and delays caused by the faulty rockets have caused the organisation’s share price to slip and no doubt are causing significant headaches for the company’s operational team.

The challenges holding back true collaborative working in enterprise

Challenges must be overcome before true collaborative working becomes a reality in the enterprise

There is a growing awareness in the enterprise that collaborative working could deliver business benefits such as greater agility and reduced time to market. But there are challenges that first need to be overcome, and the first concerns what we really mean by collaborative working…

Facebook inside your business is not the answer. And neither is Yammer or any other Enterprise Social Network. They have their place in certain use cases, but they were not built to change how we work; just offer an alternative communication channel. To change how we work in the enterprise today is a far more challenging subject to tackle.

Change Managers are hampered by the fact that for the last 25 years, workers have been conditioned to working on a desktop PC; a pre-internet invention. The desktop and its attendant file and folder based working approach actively prevent collaboration, as content authoring is done in a silo before the secondary act of sharing occurs.

The second big issue to consider concerns organisational structure and the relationship desktop working has with it.

Teams within an organisation are tasked with specific remits and outputs, but they are also part of the same common goal; the company output. Often referred to as the Critical Path, the process of coordinating different teams’ activities to deliver company output reliably and on time can be a fraught process as, too often, one team doesn’t know what another is doing. This lack of visibility, despite ongoing efforts to restructure team reporting, can be traced to a body of critical work being authored in silos, with no obvious way of sharing in real time changes in plans and processes that often occur in day to day business.

Start with selfishness

In order for the promise of “collaboration” to be delivered on, it needs to be clear what specific collaborative processes need to be introduced and for whom. How can we recreate a sense of ‘synchronicity’ for businesses that have teams in different offices, often spread across multiple sites, and maybe even different countries?

It is not enough for just one team to introduce a collaborative working platform; the whole business needs to be networked in order to work synchronously and deliver on an optimum Critical Path. In order to create this ‘network effect’ businesses need to appeal to their employees’ most selfish instincts.

Before they change their behaviour, most individuals will want to know what’s in it for them – so businesses need to promote the benefits of collaborative working not just for the group, but for each employee. Start by showing how these new tools can make each person’s workload easier, for example, and how it can support their learning and development. More effective collaboration will also make them more productive and showcase their personal successes more clearly.

Forget about the file

The modern workplace also needs to reflect the world it operates in. Internet connectivity and speed have improved significantly in recent years, paving the way for on-demand content services and cloud storage. Firms like Spotify and Netflix have already smashed Apple’s iTunes dominance of the music and film market by negating the need to download a file before playing it. You just stream it when you want it.

We have this reality in our personal lives, and as a result, employees are starting to expect an application to deliver their work directly to the audience that needs to see and interact with it. Imagine if you had to write a Facebook update, upload it, notify people that it is available and then send them a link to go and read it – who would bother? Today’s workers want to work within a ‘followable’ environment that enables seamless, real-time information sharing automatically.

Share actions, not words

Businesses need to appreciate that collaboration is a behaviour, but one that struggles to work well with the wrong tools. Teams working within the same business are completely dependent on each other, and ‘cc’ emails, file sharing and social network postings are all blunt tools for keeping everyone up to date on what has been done and, more importantly, what needs to be done.

These forms of communication can lead to information overload via cc’ing, version control confusion through file sharing and channel fatigue through another social network. As a result some employees are left out of the loop and others buried under a deluge of information they don’t actually need to see. The next step along this inefficient path is then the ‘team meeting’, which tends to focus on what teams have been doing, rather than what they are doing or need to do.

Effective collaborative working removes communication lag and enables teams to see what is happening right now. It also has the knock-on effect of making it much easier to measure performance of teams across the enterprise. After all, it’s nearly impossible to measure productivity and effectiveness accurately when work is only being shared after it is completed. By comparison, if work is being measured and evaluated in real-time, within a cloud-base working environment, it is very easy to gain useful and actionable business intelligence.

The main benefit of this approach, however, is that more work actually gets done, instead of just being talked about. By having immediate access to different teams’ knowledge, work and progress, it is possible to create a truly dynamic working environment on a global scale. Businesses that are ready, willing and able to adopt this enlightened approach to collaboration will therefore continue to grow and flourish in the years ahead. Alternatively, you could just post an update about this article to your Enterprise Social Network.

The article was written exclusively for Procurious by Tristan Rogers, CEO of Concrete, the global enterprise collaboration platform used by retailers including J Crew, Gap, Kate Spade, Tesco F&F, George and Marks & Spencer.

The ISM Mastery Model: what is it and how does it work?

A bold move to standardise roles on behalf of the profession.

The ISM Mastery Model

Standardisation. The supply chain profession is crying out for it, but it’s very difficult to achieve. If you’ve ever worked with procurement teams from more than a handful of organisations, you’ll have seen that people don’t speak the same language when it comes role titles and the competencies they entail. It’s day two of ISM2015 and I’m attending a press conference with some of ISM’s top brass – Thomas Derry (CEO), M.L. Peck (Senior VP Programs and Product Development), Cecilia Mendoza (Director Education and Training) and Tony Conant (COO). As the cameras zoom and flash, Derry clears his throat and announces his organisation’s biggest initiative of the year so far: the ISM Mastery Model.

This year ISM celebrates its 100th birthday and is using this milestone to create a model that will drive standards into the next millennium. ISM has plenty of experience in this area – they’ve been the hand at the tiller of the US supply chain profession since 1915, setting the standards and moving the professional boundaries as the responsibilities and expectations of procurement professionals grow at an incredible pace. As Derry says, “Procurement has moved so fast we’ve almost outstripped the ability to have formalised career structures.”

So, what is it?

The ISM Mastery model represents ISM’s bold move to standardise roles on behalf of the profession, with the goal that the model will become an integral part of the hiring process and career development for supply chain professionals. The model was built by drawing on ISM’s own experience over 100 years in the sector, including 50 years as the USA’s leading provider of supply chain certification. Two dozen supply chain professionals took part in validating the thinking behind the model. It creates a crystal-clear career path for young people, or rather a number of possible career paths by detailing the competencies required and how they can be achieved. The model is scalable and configurable to different companies’ needs, and surprisingly, it’s free.

Here’s how it works: the model is organised into 16 major competencies; namely business acumen, category management, corporate social responsibility, cost & price management, financial analysis, legal, logistics management, negotiation, project management, quality management, risk, sales & operations management, sourcing, supplier relationship management, supply chain planning, and systems capabilities & technology. There’s a mix here of core or “hard” competencies, and what we traditionally call “soft” skills, such as negotiation. Derry comments that it’s time to change this label to “critical skills” to reflect the importance of hard-to-learn competencies, as you’ll absolutely need these skills to advance in modern-day procurement.

The major competencies are then broken down into highly detailed sub-categories, in what Derry proudly calls “the world’s greatest collection of job descriptions”. The detail is superb, laying down in the plainest language what is required to master that competency. Take business acumen as an example – ISM has determined that procurement professionals will need to come to grips with no fewer than 10 sub-categories, ranging from business intelligence to strategy development. The model then lays out the expectations for these sub-categories at four different career levels – essentials, experienced, leadership and executive leadership. That’s 40 detailed competency descriptions under business acumen alone. The final piece of the puzzle is found on the website – I click on the competency “business acumen”, the sub-category “change management” and the “essential” experience level, and I’m directed to the ISM certification programs (online courses, podcasts, articles, seminars and more) that will equip me with this skill.

Who will the Mastery Model benefit?

  • Individuals – build your career path, identify the gaps in your knowledge and create a business-case to request training or personal development.
  • Managers – map out the skill-set of your team and pinpoint the exact training required to fill gaps. Create a clear roadmap for ongoing investment in training. Lock in key checkpoints for career advancement using this model.
  • Global organisations – use the ISM Mastery Model to raise your decentralised team to common levels of proficiency.
  • Private equity firms – use this model to assess the procurement functions of your portfolio of companies.
  • Recruitment organisations – use the Model to help identify the right candidates and speak the same language across every procurement organisation.

The Mastery Model is impressive, and my only concern is its sheer size seems overwhelming. Derry points out, however, that although a huge amount is expected of the modern procurement professional, we can only do so much. People can use this model to create a career path into an area of specialisation – for example, I might want to begin my career with a generalised “essential-level” skill-set, but concentrate on specialising in legal as I gain the upper reaches of the model.

The launch of the model has some interesting implications for ISM. Derry talks about the data they’ll be able collect, such as tracking a surge in interest in a particular competency in a particular industry. ISM can then research the reasons why and adjust their training programs accordingly. Derry also stresses that the model is adaptable and is expected to change over time – if procurement has altered so much between 1985 and 2015, just imagine how different the roles will be by 2030.

This model makes personalised growth possible. Having a clear roadmap and standardisation will help accelerate the development of younger teams and will be of immense benefit in attracting and retaining talent. Check it out at www.instituteforsupplymanagement.org.

Will consumers punish companies involved in supplier-driven scandals?

Survey finds that 74 per cent of respondents would be unlikely to buy products or services from a company involved in controversial supplier practices.

Consumers intend to punish companies involved in supplier-driven scandals

A newly published survey suggests that companies who are not actively monitoring the business practices of their suppliers, or who are engaged in questionable supplier practices themselves, are placing their reputations and their balance sheets in harm’s way.

The study of typical American consumers, commissioned by sourcing and procurement specialist Proxima, reveals that 74 per cent of respondents stated they would be unlikely to buy products or services from a company involved in controversial supplier practices. Furthermore, nearly 66 per cent would stop giving such a company their business even if that company was the most convenient and cheapest option.

“In recent years, we’ve seen a tremendous shift as companies are relying more heavily on suppliers for everything from their core offering to the market to back office services,” said Jonathan Cooper-Bagnall, EVP & Commercial Director of Proxima. “With this increased reliance comes increased risk and a requirement to engage suppliers with ethical and responsible track records. The results of this study suggest that companies who fail to appreciably vet and monitor their suppliers are at risk for significant commercial consequences.”

The survey, commissioned by Proxima and executed by Kelton Global, gauged the views of more than 1,000 American consumers over the age of 18 in March of this year. Other key findings of note include:

  • Even among financially-strained consumers (respondents with less than $35,000 a year in income), one in three would spend more money elsewhere to avoid patronizing a scandal-ridden company
  • Nearly a third of respondents indicated that they would proactively tell friends and family to stop spending their money with a company involved in controversial supplier practices

Cooper-Bagnall continued, “In recent years, supplier driven scandals have tainted the reputations and bottom lines of a number of well-known companies around the world. Yet, when these scandals arise, consumers are not drawing a distinction between company and supplier and are placing as much blame, if not more, squarely at the feet of the company. It is, therefore, critically necessary that companies not only vet suppliers properly before engaging them, but create a monitoring program to catch and address any improprieties before they result in public scandals.”

Walmart cops criticism over sourcing practices

WALMART criticised for sourcing water from California

Retail giant Walmart has come under fire in the US over claims the firm is sourcing water used for its bottled water products from drought stricken regions in California.

A report, compiled by a CBS affiliate in Sacramento, suggests that Walmart is sourcing bottled water stocks from Sacramento’s municipal water supply. The world’s largest retailer has drawn stern criticism for this practice given the region is in midst of a crippling four year drought that is devastating crops and forcing residents to face water restrictions.

Similar complaints have been made of coffee chain Starbucks, who were called out in a report in the Mother Jones magazine for sourcing bottled water stocks in parts of California the government has deemed as being in areas of “exceptional drought”. Since the report’s release, Starbucks has announced it will cease sourcing water from the troubled Californian regions, a commitment that Walmart is yet to have made. This lack of commitment was highlighted in the following email statement from Walmart spokesman John Forrest Ales, who outlined the company’s concerns over the drought, but stopped short of altering sourcing practices.

“The drought in California is very concerning for many of our customers and our associates. We share those concerns and are tracking it closely. Our commitment to sustainability includes efforts to minimize water use in our facilities. We have and continue to work with our suppliers to act responsibly while meeting the needs of customers who count on us across California.”

While the public outcry over this issue has been significant (a petition demanding Walmart take its activities elsewhere has garnered over 11,000 signatures), the International Bottled Water Association has been quick to stifle the issue, pointing out that bottled water accounts for less than 0.01 per cent of all water used in the US each year.

Greenpeace report urges improved transparency from Amazon

Apple, Facebook, Google progress toward a Green Internet, but coal-heavy utilities stand in the way.

Greenpeace renewable energy report

A recently published Greenpeace report urges improved transparency from Amazon, and more engagement from all major internet companies to overcome resistance to renewable energy from monopoly utilities.

Greenpeace’s research states that major internet companies including Apple, Facebook and Google continue to lead efforts to build an internet that is renewably powered, but an uncooperative utility sector and rapid energy demand growth for the internet places those ambitions under threat. Continued resistance to renewable investments from coal-heavy monopoly utilities in data centre hot spots such as Virginia, North Carolina, and Taiwan is causing the rapid growth in the digital world to increase the demand for dirty energy.

“Tech companies are increasingly turning to the smart choice of renewable energy to power the internet, but they’re hitting a wall of stubborn monopoly power companies that refuse to switch to 21st century sources of energy. Internet companies need to work together to push utilities and policymakers to provide them with 100 per cent renewable energy and avoid the creation of a dirty internet.” said Gary Cook, Senior IT Analyst for Greenpeace USA.

The report, “Clicking Clean: A Guide to Building the Green Internet,” also highlights the continued lack of transparency by cloud giant Amazon Web Services (AWS).  AWS has taken some significant steps over the last year, including committing to power its operations with 100 per cent renewable energy, but the lack of basic transparency about its energy use is a growing concern for its customers.  Although AWS did announce plans to purchase over 100 MW of wind energy this past year, Greenpeace discovered that AWS continues to rapidly expand in Virginia. Based on an analysis of permit applications by Amazon subsidiary Vadata, AWS made investments in new data center capacity in 2014 that would increase its energy demand by 200 MW in that state, where the utility Dominion powers the grid with only 2 per cent renewable energy.

The report found that Apple continues to be the most aggressive in powering its data center operations with renewable energy. Despite continued rapid growth, Apple appears to have kept pace with its supply of renewable energy, maintaining its claim of a 100 per cent renewably powered cloud for another year, followed by Yahoo, Facebook and Google with 73 per cent, 49 per cent and 46 per cent clean energy respectively. Greenpeace found that Amazon’s current investments would deliver an energy mix of 23 per cent renewable energy for its operations.

“Amazon needs to provide more information about its data center footprint and how it will move toward 100 per cent renewable energy, as Apple, Google, and Facebook have done – its rapid expansion in coal dependent Virginia should be a concern to its customers like Netflix and Pinterest who are fully dependent on Amazon for their online operations. Increased transparency will allow AWS customers to know where they and AWS stand on their journey to 100 per cent renewable energy,” said Cook.

The energy use of our digital infrastructure, which would have ranked sixth in the world among countries in 2011, continues to rapidly increase, and is largely being driven by the dramatic growth of streaming video services like Youtube, Netflix, and Hulu. Video streaming is estimated to account for more than 60 per cent of consumer internet traffic today, and is expected to grow to 76 per cent by 2018.

Apple continues to lead the way toward a green internet with several major renewable energy investments announced in the last year, including an $850 million deal to power its operations in California – the largest ever non-utility solar deal. Google’s march toward 100 per cent renewable energy is threatened by monopoly utilities like Duke Energy in North Carolina, a major hub for data centers.

Currently, customers are not allowed to buy power from anyone other than Duke, which gets only 2 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources, but North Carolina legislators are trying to increase the options for consumers to buy renewable energy from parties other than Duke Energy.

Colocation companies, the internet landlords that rent out data center space, continue to lag far behind consumer-facing data center operators in seeking renewable energy to power their operations, but Equinix’s adoption of a 100 per cent renewable energy commitment and offering of renewably hosted facilities is an important step forward and puts the company at the front of the colocation pack.

Greenpeace contacted every company assessed in the report to request data on their energy use. When companies did not respond, as was the case with Amazon, Greenpeace estimated their energy consumption using conservative assumptions and publicly available information.

Greenpeace is calling on all major internet companies to:  

  • Make a long-term commitment to become 100 per cent renewably powered.  
  • Commit to transparency on IT performance and consumption of resources, including the sources of electricity, to enable customers, investors, and stakeholders to measure progress toward that goal.
  • Develop a strategy for increasing their supply of renewable energy, through a mixture of procurement, investment, and corporate advocacy to both electricity suppliers and government decision-makers.

CIPS David Noble shifts a few paradigms

CIPS David Noble speaking at Procurious Big Ideas Summit

David Noble, Group Chief Executive of The Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS) took the stage at the Big Ideas Summit to shift a few paradigms.

Every organisation relies on buying things to run their business and as buyer you’re in an extremely powerful position. But because buyers often operate behind the scenes, many people aren’t aware of procurement and supply as a career choice.

CIPS is not just UK-based. The membership spans the globe. You can find Institute members in 150 different countries. It brings everyone together to share news and ideas through member events, networking opportunities and discussion forums.

The profession is not just all male. Half of the 114,000-strong community worldwide  is female. At a student level Singapore now has more of a female skew than male.

At CIPS nearly half the senior staff and board is female.

The membership was primarily seen as kindergarten – now this may have been true maybe 20 years prior, but things have changed.

We are in a sea change.

David says that we are in a sea change, therefore we must understand our business environment and what the Institute is doing about it.

Only 1/3 of CEO’s believe P&S professionals are ready for the strategic challenges ahead.

CIPS has set about doing work to define the future profession. And it is clear from the results of its survey that the profession has come-of age. Now it’s time to ‘raise your game and raise your voice,’ to ensure that procurement becomes pivotal to organisational success and value delivery, with a key role to play at the highest levels.

Let’s start selling this profession better by becoming the story tellers of our success.

Top buyers are in huge demand around the world and can achieve extremely high positions within companies.

Driving value is like driving change. To drive change is never easy so you need to persevere, and have dogged determination. You are able to add value not just from cost reductions, but also from the innovation and creativity you can bring to the role. And because of procurement’s involvement across the whole value chain, you could not find any function with such a unique position in any organisation.

Telstra director honoured with prestigious procurement award

Richard Allen receives The Faculty’s ‘CPO of the Year’ title.

Chief Procurement Officer (CPO) at Telstra, Richard Allen, was last night announced CPO of the Year by leading procurement consultancy The Faculty.

Awarded at the Asia-Pacific CPO Forum’s annual gala dinner held at the Eureka89, Melbourne, Mr Allen was chosen from a shortlist of top performing CPOs in the region.

Sponsored by WORKWEAR Group, part of Wesfarmers Industrial & Safety (WIS), the award highlights the importance of the CPO role in organisations by recognising CPOs who hold strong functional and technical expertise, realise commercial outcomes, demonstrate leadership influence and leverage the value of procurement across their businesses.

Responsible for all outsourcing decisions at Telstra, encompassing both local agencies and overseas partners with a procurement spend in excess of $12 billion, Mr Allen is credited with making a significant contribution to the telecommunications company’s customer-focused strategy over the past four years.

Richard was nominated by Robert Nason, Group Executive, Business Support and Improvement at Telstra, who said: “Richard has been instrumental in Telstra’s transformation over recent years, and his commercial leadership has helped Telstra strengthen its customer service offering,”

“He’s introduced innovative service evaluation, to measure and increase advocacy within Telstra’s suppliers, recognising that they are often our customers, too,”

“Richard’s also led a widespread rationalisation of our supplier base, reducing it by 30 per cent, which benefits both our business and our customers.”

Another innovation introduced by Richard was his ‘reverse sourcing’ initiative where he achieved a 90 per cent change in payment terms from suppliers, which has unlocked a significant incremental cash benefit to the business.

Mr Allen’s ability to lead the procurement function through an extensive domestic change program and make a significant contribution to Telstra’s transformation is what captured the judging panel’s attention.

Judging Panel Chair it is Dr Karen Morely said: “The change Mr Allen has made at Telstra is a perfect example of how procurement can support a company’s value proposition whilst also keeping a close eye on costs.”

“Richard’s ability to broaden the role of procurement across the business and reap such strong rewards is the result of his functional excellence, leadership, commercial capabilities and personal drive.”

The Faculty’s Founding Chairman Tania Seary said: “Making a tremendous impact on one of Australia’s largest corporations and driving real change across the business is far from simple – yet Richard has shown that his technical skills and leadership combined are a perfect formulae for success.

“The Faculty congratulates Richard and the procurement team at Telstra for all their achievements over the past four years, and hope that others in the industry learn from their excellent results.”

Established in 2012, the CPO awards program, a flagship initiative of The Faculty, was created to recognise and celebrate the achievements of procurement professionals across Asia Pacific.

WORKWEAR Group General Manager, Chris Jones, said that while procurement is one of the fastest growing professions in Australia, awards like CPO of the Year recognise the crucial impact procurement can have on business outcomes.

“The CPO role is not just about sourcing and purchasing, but includes building or protecting brand reputation, mitigating risks and help companies deliver on their value promise.”

For more information on the Faculty’s CPO of the Year Award, please visit here.

How the UK General Election will affect digital trade

Katie Gallagher, managing director at the North’s leading independent digital trade association comments on the result of the UK General Election and how it is going to effect the digital sector in the North.

Polling_station_6_may_2010

“The coalition certainly brought in some good initiatives for tech and digital businesses, most of which until recently were focused on London. However this changed dramatically in the run-up to the election where there was borderline hysteria from all political parties about tech and the North.

“I hope that the Tories will continue to invest in the North and understand just how vital our technology sector is to job growth and the wider economy. It’ll be interesting to see how the Tech North initiative pans out, considering it was a Lib Dem initiative all along.

“While the last Government did introduce computer science into the curriculum, they also introduced several controversial reforms which were actually at odds with the desire to create work ready students with vocational, hands on experience.

“David Cameron has said his party will create more apprenticeships, and whilst we admire this ambition, digital technology apprenticeships have not been as successful as hoped, particularly in the SME community. The infrastructure still isn’t right to get enough quality talent from schools into digital apprenticeships, so I hope the new Government will look to change this. We really need to get digital education right this time and tackle this skills gap once and for all.

“I’d also like to see additional investment in promising start-ups. While we did see the introduction of some helpful finance products under the coalition, there’s still number of decent tech businesses that are struggling to access the finance they need to grow. Cameron has been known to champion UK start-ups, so I hope this remains a priority.  

“It was a challenge for us to make sure industry voices were heard in the right places with the last Government. I hope that the new Government listens this time and realises its approach to digital, skills and economic growth needs to be joined up, and the best way of doing that is from a business-led, bottom up approach.”

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