London First CEO Says the Business Community Wants to Unite the U.K. Ahead of Brexit
Though you might hear a lot about the “Brexit divide,” London’s business community is ready to unite, as Jasmine Whitbread, CEO of London First, told Fortune‘s MPW International Summit on Tuesday.
London First is a business campaigning group made up of more than 200 employers in the British capital.
“Members join the organization because they want to see London thrive, but not at the expense of the rest of the U.K.,” she said.
The organization was founded in the 1990s when “London was really in the doldrums,” according to Whitbread, and the business community decided they needed to take action. The group focused on issues like education, transportation, and foreign direct investments.
Now, the business community has a vital role to play, both in the Brexit discussion and in preparing the country’s economy for the future. Members of London First want to see the country fix its “broken visa system” and address the talent gap.
“We can’t solve everything, but business should do our part,” she said.
One recent contribution is examining the skills shortage in London, where 76% of businesses reported struggling to find candidates with the right skills—worse than any other region in the United Kingdom.
London First commissioned a report on the skills that will be needed by 2025 to fill jobs. The assessment looks at how businesses can step up and dovetail better with skills providers as well as how the government can help with initiatives like apprenticeship programs.
The organization has also partnered with other business groups throughout the U.K. to share their its findings beyond the city of London.
“They want to bring the country together as far as business is concerned,” Whitbread said of London First’s members.