Lazy and fat like a cat

25 November 2017, 21:02 | Updated: 25 November 2017, 21:08


The man who is responsible for promoting British business abroad says that Britain's businesses are fat and lazy.

With promoters like that, who needs enemies?

Liam Fox, The International Trade Secretary, accused companies of not wanting to export their goods abroad because they can't be bovered.

He said the reason we are trailing behind our main competitors is that the people running Britain plc are not looking up past their bellies to foreign markets.

“Must do better” is the mark on our report card.

One reason that we lag behind our colleagues in Europe, the Far East and America is that we are terrible at spending money on the future.

Our research and development budget is paltry compared to the amount of money our businesses have at their disposal.

I suspect that short-termism is to blame here, as it is with much else that ails us.

British companies put too little effort into training workers in the right skills, because companies aren't interested in investing in long term gain – they are more interested in investing in the fabulous lifestyles of the people that run them in the short term.

The amount we spend on research and development puts us 14th on the list of countries in Europe. Not on the list of countries in the world but in Europe!

According to the 2015 Eurostat year book, going by gross domestic expenditure by country, the fifth largest economy on earth is only the 14th most forward thinking country on this continent.

Where do our workers lack skills? Well, nothing important, just verbal, cognitive reasoning, social and complex problem-solving skills, and maths, sciences, technology and engineering.

Which sounds like everything.

And the problem is getting worse as companies cut back their already meagre training budgets.

They will not, of course, be cutting their management remunerations, because they're worth it!

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development said: “Skills mismatch is very high in the UK compared with other countries.”

They said that it is the responsibility of employers to train their workers in the skills they need.

But if CEO's and MD's spend money training their workers, or planning for the long term, that's less that they can award themselves in bonuses in the short term.

This is all highly alarming because in a very short period of time, a robot is probably going to take your job, so you will need to be highly skilled for the jobs of the future, because simple jobs and some quite complicated ones will be terminated by a computer chip.

The OECD insist that this is not a new problem.

They said “We could be talking about these issues 30 or 40 years ago, and if you want to be really pessimistic you can go back to the 1890s when people were talking about the same sorts of issues in the UK.”

British business has had over 120 years to address this problem. Perhaps management has been busy.

Busy flipping through What Yacht magazine.