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Cabinet office launches forum for UK resilience strategy

Leaders from public, private and voluntary sectors met on Thursday (2 February) to discuss how to strengthen the UK’s resilience in the face of unpredictable events.

The UK Resilience Forum is the first such event since the publication of the government’s resilience strategy in December 2022.

The strategy's goals include building skills and experience in working through periods of sudden change, encouraging adherence to standards of work, strengthening resilience at a local level, and studying the impact of risks on vulnerable groups.

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Chaired by chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and lead minister for resilience Oliver Dowden, the forum discussed work underway to meet the UK’s resilience goals, including the establishment of the UK Resilience Academy.

The academy will be built out of the Cabinet Office-owned Emergency Planning College (EPC) in Yorkshire and provide organisations with the skills to withstand events outside of their control, including skills for communicating in a crisis, ensuring business continuity and crowd and event safety.

Government-affiliated learning and development providers will be gathered for the academy in early 2023 ahead of a scheduled launch at the end of the year.

Dowden said at the meeting: “I am delighted to chair today’s Resilience Forum, bringing together leaders from across the public, private and voluntary sectors, including our dedicated emergency services, to strengthen our national resilience; scanning future threats and discussing the important work that’s already underway as part of our ambitious resilience framework.” 

Speaking to HR magazine Jeanette Wheeler, chief HR officer at payroll and finance software company MHR, said ensuring a consistent supply of skills is one of the key challenges in organisational resilience.

MHR research in 2022 found two thirds (66%) of the UK workforce could lack basic digital skills by 2030. 

She said: “With digital transformation at the heart of building any resilient company in the digital age, this skill gap must be addressed urgently to ensure UK companies are able to successfully navigate business risk.”

MHR data also showed more than 10 million people in the UK were under-skilled in leadership, communication and decision-making.

Wheeler said: “In a turbulent macroeconomic environment that is still feeling the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the ongoing war in Ukraine, and the cost of living crisis, strong leadership is essential to ensure businesses are able to approach their operations with a clear long-term strategy in a cohesive manner. 

“The absence of such leadership will undermine businesses' ability to respond quickly to changing markets and weather more challenging periods, impacting the UK’s resilience as a whole. 

“Tackling these issues must become a priority to guarantee the survival, competitiveness and growth of UK businesses in an increasingly unpredictable world.”

Liz Sebag-Montefiore, director and co-founder of HR consultancy 10eighty, said leaders with a strong sense of purpose are more likely to be resilient.

She told HR magazine: “We need leaders and managers with a small turning circle, who are resilient and open to change, coping with whatever is thrown at them in an ever-changing environment. 

“They are proactive and agile when it comes to dealing with disruption. It requires a positive attitude, training, and attention to work/life balance.

“A key attribute of a good leader is that they remain calm at all times. When the going gets tough and the odds seem overwhelming, take a deep breath and talk yourself down until you feel more relaxed.”