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Learning lessons from other island nations

26 November, 2020

As the UK starts to emerge from the pandemic and to implement Brexit-related changes, we need to look to lessons we can learn from other island-based economies, argues Nikesh Mistry*, Gambica’s sector head for industrial automation.

The American author and leadership guru John Maxwell famously said: “The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change… The leader adjusts the sails.” In our current situation, it is imperative that we adjust those sails and ensure we steer clear and steady to shore. However before I dive into more detail about leadership, let me clarify, the situation that I’m talking about is not the Coronavirus pandemic, but Brexit.

As the UK develops its post-Brexit strategy, it is important that we look at what we can learn from similar island-based nations to boost our economy and remain a “leader” in an increasingly competitive world. While any strategy decisions we make now must also factor in the obstacle of the global pandemic, we must look at the resilience of other island-based economies to see what we may need to do to help ease any tension. The likes of Singapore, Australia, Japan and even New Zealand, all operate in a similar manner, so it is essential that we benefit from the experiences they’ve had to learn by example.

One widely recognised technological megatrend among these economies is, of course, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, that we all now know and love dearly. Countries with alead in high-tech industrial companies are clearly championing their advantages over others. For example, Singapore’s has a national strategy that has prioritised investment in the technological economy by setting a five-year plan that is due to end this year. We can expect another, even larger scheme to be announced soon.

Similarly Japan have developed an concept, termed Society 5.0, which focuses on demographic changes in society. They have noted that while technology is evolving, the mindset of society also plays a core role in enforcing change. Japan has an ageing population and believes that encouraging domestic technology will help its people to adapt to the demographic changes, as well as assisting industry.

No doubt, there will be many challenges ahead. The catalyst of a global pandemic that is forcing technological changes around the world has come as a shock, to say the least. Many ideas have been suggested on how to champion UK industry during this time. For example, the Manufacturing Commission has produced a report, called Level Up Industry, which outlines the next steps which the Government needs to take to ensure that British manufacturing is levelled up across its regions.

As we step into the digitalised world, the UK must aim to be a leader. It is imperative that, now that we have left the European Union, we do not fall behind. Further to this, we must look to our leaders to adopt these strategies. The technology doesn’t need to be invented, it needs to be adapted and it is our leaders that will enable this.

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