It’s a shame the government has forgotten that people are the country’s greatest asset

Good companies know that they are most successful when they invest in their people. Ditto good countries.

Back in the 1990s the then Tory government, under the premiership of John Major, developed a plan to encourage businesses in Britain to invest in their people.

It was the start of the new Investors in People accreditation, that companies – large or small – could achieve by demonstrating that they were fully committed to training ALL their staff to achieve their full potential.

To develop a truly world-class workforce, the government of the day knew that Britain – and Britons – lagged behind other countries.

It was no accident that the planet’s best businesses were ones that embraced ALL their staff, openly shared their company’s vision with them, and offered them the training opportunities to help make that vision come true.

The Investors in People standard enjoyed all-party support and the backing of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and the Confederation of British Industry.

It was a worthy initiative and I decided to independently produce and direct video programmes to explain it.

My series of videos was called ‘People Power Work’ and was presented by media stars Sue Lawley, John Humphrys, Bev Ashworth, and the late Brian Redhead.

One set of videos was called ‘People Power for Employers – a version of which is shown here:

It endeavoured to encourage business bosses to more highly rate the people who worked for them and to help them to be more successful in the workplace.

Another set of videos, called ‘People Power for Employees’ (which I will post here another day) aimed to encourage working people to embrace lifelong learning and to seek out the companies who would invest in their training, their prospects, and their future.

At the time the Investors in People standard, together with other help and advice for businesses, was facilitated by government-funded Business Links, of which there were 89 regional offices.

The concept was established by Michael Heseltine, then President of the Board of Trade, who believed that helping businesses to thrive would in turn help Britain to be more successful.

For sure, the idea worked. Thousands of businesses across the UK, of all sizes, enthusiastically embraced the new Investors in People standard and transformed the way they managed their staff.

Thousands of businesses also benefited from the free guidance offered by the network of Business Link advisors.

Unfortunately, by the time of the next Tory government in 2010, under the premiership of David Cameron, austerity measures led to the Business Links being abolished.

It was a backward step. During difficult times, businesses need more help, not less.

But this is the attitude of the Tory administration of this millennium, leading not only to insufficient investment in the country’s businesses, but also in the nation’s people too.

After all, if you want a country to thrive, you must make sure that ALL your people – of ALL backgrounds and nationalities – have access to good health care, that their education is fully funded, that they don’t go hungry, that they have access to affordable homes, that they are adequately protected from crises.

All areas in which the current government has failed to deliver. Today, Britain is not an investor in its people.

* The Investors in People standard is still running, but it is no longer a government-owned initiative. In February 2017, Investors in People transitioned into the Investors in People Community Interest Company. More details at:

Jon Danzig is a campaigning journalist and film maker who specialises in writing about health, human rights, and Europe. He is also founder of the pro-EU information campaign, Reasons2Rejoin. You can follow Jon Danzig on his Facebook journalism page at