The Emergence of the Grey Collared Worker

Mark Sawyer, Avancos Director for EMEA and Skills and Employment Strategy board member for Northampton Enterprise Partnership (NEP) is presenting to the advisory board on the emergence of the grey collared worker and how it can be tackled at a local level. Below is the presentation as we feel the Emergence of the Grey Collar worker affects the local employment strategy efforts globally.

In the UK, Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) have a key role to play in shaping priorities, leading on enterprise initiatives and supporting the county's business community. Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership (NEP), the Northamptonshire LEP, is established and well positioned to quickly seize the opportunities that will arise.

NEP works because it was founded on one overriding principle. Local enterprise. Their remit is to support the creation of better quality private sector jobs for Northamptonshire… and they are 10 times more cost effective at doing this than the UK average.

All of their activity is based on the unassailable fact that it is businesses in the county that create jobs. Their primary objective is to support businesses to do just that. They help to establish and continue to improve upon an environment that allows companies to thrive on Northamptonshire's economic drivers and unlock existing and future growth potential.






This continues to be an issue, especially when we look at the future predictions! More and more universities are operating with multiple campuses – Nottingham, Lancaster, Leeds and others have expanded into India, China, Brazil, Malaysia, Pakistan.

So as more and more people follow the trend of entering university, there are less and less of the skilled grey collared workforce for the SME sector to target, attract and onboard right? Not necessarily…


Research from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that more and more graduates are working in non-graduate type roles – they are the gray collared workforce! It is interesting to note the significant increase in both groups since the recent recession.


In conversations with business leaders around the world we hear the following points over and over, and reading almost every survey over the last three years, hiring trained talent is the number ONE concern, especially for the SME sector. So what do we know? We know that skills and employment are a challenge. We also know that other areas of the UK and globally are fighting for the same talent. We are collectively looking at how we can address this on a local level and we have some interesting ideas and projects. BUT…..where are we?


Every town and city around the world are having this discussion in some fashion, we need to agree where we are in terms of our collective thinking and actions to achieve the overall targets. So where are we? Depending on the outcomes, do we know of any innovators or early adopters who we can engage with to learn what they did right/wrong or would do differently?


Referring to the macro level, we are talking about the base skills needed, based on the industries we aim to support and help them with a mechanism to satisfy supply and demand in the short, medium and long term.

If you have any questions or thoughts about how Grey Collar workers will affect your employment strategy, please let us know and email

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