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Ian MacArthur

Andy Burnham

Building back better – in this episode, we speak to the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham. We look to how Greater Manchester can build upon the good work movement as we come back from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Listen for Chatter about Andy Burnham's first-ever employment experience, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on good work, the importance of the Real Living Wage, and future Northern ‘Good Work’ collaborations.

"We will send out a message about the Greater Manchester economy that will be attractive to the youngest talents in the country."

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In March 2020, something staggering happened to our working lives here in the UK. 5% of people working from home became 45% (in one week!) and the number kept rising.


It was the biggest mobilisation of the UK workforce since WW2. It required a huge change in our working practices and a major reliance on technology. We had to find new ways to work together. Companies that had already invested in the right IT platforms hit the ground running while others rushed to catch up. Adaption to these huge personal and professional challenges took courage, stamina, and resilience, and is something we can all be proud of. Of course, I can’t fail to mention the phenomenal dedication of our NHS staff, who bore the brunt of the crisis and to whom we owe a debt of gratitude.


So, what have we learned?


We know what we have missed: Personal contact with loved ones, socialising, conversations that lead to new ideas and creative solutions. Not to mention live music, theatre, restaurants...


We know what we haven’t missed: commuting, rushing to meetings, getting home late, not being able to put your kids to bed or having enough time for yourself. As our cities come back to life, we have a unique opportunity to redesign the way we work and to improve our work/life balance. Many of us will be able to create a ‘blended’ approach to our working lives, where we work part of the week at home and part in the office, maximising the value of the time we spend together.


Lessons from the pandemic must be used as a force for good. We have learned to respect each other’s unique circumstances: our home environments and family demands – be that children, elderly parents, or a sick relative. And something we now talk about more openly than ever before: mental health. We know how critical this is to wellbeing. Having someone to talk to, going for a walk, getting support when it is needed are all things that make a big difference to our lives.


We have learned that we are a community and that we need each other. Many of us have served our communities during the pandemic by volunteering or simply supporting those in need however we can. We must take everyone with us as we recover, and build a diverse workforce with opportunities for everyone: apprenticeships and internships for young people and training (or retraining) for all. People, and their wellbeing, must stay at the heart of our plan to build back better. The world will not stand still. There are many challenges ahead of us and we must be clear on how we can grow our economy and create good jobs which allow people to thrive.


Our focus must be on Innovation, Green Growth, and Addressing Inequalities. In Greater Manchester, we see future growth in sectors such as Advanced Materials, Health Innovation, Green Industries, and Digital and Creative - to name a few. We want to create a vibrant economy with opportunities for everyone. A vibrant city region which offers a great quality of life on every level. We have a unique opportunity to achieve this.


There is help out there if you need it. From mental health support to business support and the fantastic work of the Business Growth Hub. Something I love about our region is our openness and our aptitude for collaboration. If the last 18 months have shown us anything, it is that we are stronger together.


Written 8 June 2021

Vanda Murray OBE

Vanda has over 25 years’ experience at a senior level across a range of industry sectors in the UK and internationally. She was previously CEO of Blick plc, one of only nine women running a listed company in the UK, and doubled its value before its sale to The Stanley Works Inc.

Today she is Chair of FTSE 250 Marshalls plc and Chair Designate of Yorkshire Water, as well as serving on the Manchester Airports Board and Bunzl plc as a Non-Executive Director. She is a Board Member of the Growth Company and chairs Business Support, Business Finance. She also serves on the Manchester LEP board and is a Trustee of Maggie’s Manchester.