I went to the Courier’s Business Briefing event this week at Forbes of Kingennie. The main speaker was Keith Cochrane, MD of Weir Group, Scotland’s biggest business. After Keith’s speech, which was about global business perspectives and the secrets of Weir’s success over the last 100+ years, there was panel Q and A with Keith, Tim Allan of Dundee Chamber and MD Unicorn Properties and me. Keith also spoke about technology and the pace of change which is impacting on every industry including ours. More of that in a moment.
It wasn’t the topic for the event but the main thrust of the Q and A was certainly towards a debate about the young work force and in particular the interface between education and employers. I think contributions from the panel and the floor confirmed that there are schools and teachers that do indeed “get it” as far as the role of schools and colleges in supporting the country’s industry and commerce is concerned, but also confirmed that there is a lot more to do.
One thing I have been thinking about arising from the “digital” and “technology” conversation that day is the question of how ready our council work styles and work places are to accommodate the expectations and skills of the incoming young worker. These are people who, as schools increasingly get it right, will be anticipating a dynamic, agile digitally focussed work place, and be equipped with the skills to operate in that environment.
Keith Cochrane was clear that Weir, like all successful businesses, embraces change, grabs new technologies with both hands and looks to capitalise on the skills and expectations of young workers. Can we in local government say the same with any confidence?