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Nick Hurd MP on Bright Blue’s role in shaping forward-looking policy 

The Conservative Party needs to be constantly nudged out of its comfort zone. In a changing world, future success as a political party depends on our ability to think deeply about the big challenges of the era. That is why I think Bright Blue is so important as a goad. Indeed more important than ever.

In his latest book, Charles Handy writes about how the most successful organisations, like Apple, buck the well-established trends of growth and decline by finding a ‘second curve’. This is a “change of direction towards the future”, best started before the end of the previous curve of growth.

For a political party, I think it is about constantly fighting complacency to have thought leadership on the issues that will become increasingly important to people. That is our challenge, especially demanding when we are managing the day-to-day pressures of Government. I would argue that it becomes even more important when our political opponents are in such disarray. It is up to us.

Take the theme of this magazine – the future of work. We are already aware that our young are growing up in a world much more complicated than even the recent past. Youth unemployment is coming down but it is still too high. Many more children attend good schools but far too many are still leaving school with qualifications that will not give them choices.

The backdrop is a growing recognition that the world of work is set to change significantly. We have seen big growth in microbusinesses and the self-employed. There is an increasingly noisy public commentary around disruptive technology, automation, robotics and implications for the workplace and the role of people. The geography of economic power is shifting, and with it the map of competition and opportunity. Powerful demographic trends will change the picture of labour supply and demand.

Attitudes in society towards the world of work and wealth creation may be changing, especially among the young. For example, 1 in 4 start-ups in London is now a social enterprise. The sharing economy is real and creating jobs that were unimaginable ten years ago. Crystal ball gazers, like Mckinsey, predict a dislocated future with too few high skilled workers and too few jobs at the lower skills end. These factors, and others, converge to present a very major challenge for politicians, employers and educators.

So we need to ask ourselves very tough questions about how are we doing as a country in terms of preparing our young for the future world of work. The Conservative Party in government can point to undeniable success in terms of impressive job creation; big improvements in schools and long overdue growth in apprenticeships. We can also take pride in groundbreaking innovations like the National Citizen Service, which is helping young people develop the so called life skills that employers increasingly value.

However, we must recognise that we are still at the start of the journey to create a more secure future for Young Britain. The modern Conservative party should be looking to find the ‘second curve’ in pushing ourselves harder to anticipate the future world of work and the capabilities that young people will require. I back Bright Blue to be an important voice in that critical debate.

Nick Hurd MP is a Parliamentary supporter of Bright Blue. He originally wrote this piece for The future of work edition of Bright Blue’s Centre Write magazine