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East Midlands recovery relies on bridging skills gaps, says Lloyds Banking Group report

East Midlands recovery relies on bridging skills gaps, says Lloyds Banking Group report

Lloyds Banking Group has unveiled The Big Conversation: Helping Britain Recover report which harnesses insights gathered from business leaders, policy-makers, and community leaders around the UK and highlights strong calls from stakeholders for a bespoke regional approach to the economic recovery.

  • Lloyds Banking Group unveils The Big Conversation report which highlights UK recovery plans must consider each nation’s and region’s unique economic and social factors.

The report follows the Group convening 22 discussions with over 900 local businesses, industry leaders, politicians and experts across the UK’s nations and regions. In the East Midlands, the Going For Growth – Unlocking Potential in the East Midlands event discussed how government, business groups and financial institutions can work together to help the region’s businesses bridge the skills gap by taking on new employees and training up their workforce. A particular focus from the event was access to apprenticeships and concerns that, with the average cost of an apprentice at £8,000 per annum, the economic downturn will lead businesses to reduce or eliminate participation in apprenticeship schemes.

Lloyds Banking Group used its network to bring together participants at a time when listening, sharing experiences and a sense of community is even more important than ever before. These roundtables were hosted virtually over three months and saw panels come together to discuss the challenges and opportunities they’ve faced this year and share ideas for building a sustainable recovery across the UK.

Nationally, the conversations explored the critical areas of support needed to help rebuild communities and inform public policy and also identified emerging consensus on what is required to support the UK’s recovery. The insights will help shape future Group strategy. Discussions focused on support for SMEs, digital skills, agriculture, housing, household finances, electric vehicles and sustainability.

In the process of sharing experiences, stories of outstanding resilience emerged: business models pivoting to exploit online retail opportunities, production lines integrating social distancing measures and employees retraining in digital skills to equip them, and their firms, for the future. A clear consensus that collaboration and innovation must be at the heart of the recovery came to the fore.

Jo Harris, Lloyds Banking Group Ambassador for the Midlands, said:

“It has never been more important for the East Midlands’ SMEs, education providers, local authorities and banks to come together and share experiences and recommendations for how we address the region’s skills gaps.

“Financial support will be critical for helping new talent come through and we’ll be supporting with this through the Apprenticeship Levy and by raising awareness of other services available to firms.

“By continuing to collaborate we can put the recommendations of this report into practice to support the region’s economic recovery.”


The politicians, businesses, campaigners and community leaders involved in the events made it clear that they want to see regionally focused recovery strategies, shaped by local voices for local economies, to ensure the right solutions are put in place.

António Horta-Osório, CEO of Lloyds Banking Group, added:

“After nearly a year of huge upheaval for our personal and professional lives, we know that it’s more important than ever that we all take the time to listen. Given our depth of expertise and our presence across the UK’s nations and regions, we were able to bring together a vibrant network of businesses, industry experts and MPs so we could all listen and learn from each other’s experiences.

“A huge amount was discussed in the course of The Big Conversation, but a few themes became particularly clear. For me, the most striking of which was that while there were many shared experiences among businesses in certain sectors, the largest differences were in the experiences of businesses and communities in different geographies. This makes a tailored, regionally-led and regionally-informed approach to our national recovery essential.”


Derby-headquartered independent food wholesaler Zest Food Service launched a home delivery service for its produce, with the support of Lloyds Bank. Amid extensive coronavirus disruption to its usual customer base, the business was able to diversify its offering. Encouraged by significant initial demand, the business also opened pop-up shops in Derby and its suburbs to help reach its customers.

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