Go back to office to get on in careers, Sunak urges young people

Chancellor says he would not have built ‘strong relationships’ in first job by working from home

Ben Hatton
Monday 02 August 2021 22:50 BST
<p>Chancellor Rishi Sunak (Jacob King/PA)</p>

Chancellor Rishi Sunak (Jacob King/PA)

The chancellor has said it was “really beneficial” being in an office at the start of his career, having previously highlighted the benefits of young people being in the workplace.

In an interview with LinkedIn news, Rishi Sunak spoke of the helpful relationships he made working in offices at the start of his career.

Ahead of the easing of coronavirus restrictions last month, Mr Sunak told The Daily Telegraph it was “really important” for young people to be in a workplace and said he was looking forward to “slowly getting back to that”.

Since 19 July, the government is no longer instructing people to work from home in England, and guidance published online says it “expects and recommends a gradual return over the summer”.

Asked about a return to offices, Mr Sunak told LinkedIn News: “I have spoken previously about young people in particular benefiting from being in offices.

“It was really beneficial to me when I was starting out in my career.”

He said that on a visit to Scotland last week, he met young people starting careers in financial services, an industry Mr Sunak has also worked in.

“I was telling them the mentors that I found when I first started my job, I still talk to and they have been helpful to me all through my career even after we have gone in different ways.

“I doubt I would have had those strong relationships if I was doing my summer internship or my first bit of my career over Teams and Zoom.

“And that’s why I think for young people in particular being able to physically be in an office is valuable.”

But the chancellor also said the government has left the decision up to businesses.

He said: “We’ve kind of stopped saying that people should actively work from home and have now left it up to businesses to work with their teams to figure out the right approach.

“In terms of a return to work, which we have said we would expect that and recommend that to be gradual from when the restrictions eased, in keeping with everything else that we are doing, it’s been gradual, it’s cautious, it’s careful, so there will be a gradual return back to the offices and I think that is what broadly will happen.”

Mr Sunak was speaking on a visit to Aston Business School in Birmingham, where he marked the launch of the government-funded Help To Grow: Management scheme, calling on small and medium business leaders to sign up.

The programme offers a 12-week executive training course to small business leaders, with 30,000 places available over three years.

It is being delivered by business schools across the UK and is 90 per cent subsidised by the government.

Mr Sunak said: “Small businesses are key to our innovation and economy and will therefore be an essential part to our recovery from the pandemic, which is why we are levelling up their skills through the Help To Grow schemes.”

Press Association

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