April 14th, 2021

Movin on Up

Lembit Opik

Lembit Öpik is a former MP and now an active promotor of the Association of Relocation Professionals. He’s made grand claims about the importance of this sector to British economy, and people seem to be listening…

When it comes to inspirational progress, nothing works without people. And no economy can possibly enjoy credible status without opening its doors to the world’s workforce. That’s why it’s little short of amazing how under-valued the relocation sector has been versus its long-term importance to the UK.

I came across the relocation practice in 1988, when I started work for a new firm. The process I went through was shockingly ineffective, and destabilising to a nervous 23 year old trying to cope with a big new job in a strange new place without any serious relocation support.

Three decades later, I got to know Simon Johnston of Icon Relocation and realised proper management of the movement of employees is a world apart from what I’d experienced.

But almost nobody in Government knows this, or stopped to consider the vital role relocation plays in its year round efforts to get the right people to the right places. In the best examples, it makes relocation something to savour rather than to dread for its potentially family-wrecking disruption.

In the post-Brexit environment, the UK is faced with a fairly binary scenario: international inclusion or exclusion. The risks are obvious: the bright lights of the entire European Union are just across the water, so where’s the reason to land here? My advice is simple: be that reason. Reach out beyond getting the housing, schooling and all the other things right for your clients. Offering a partnership to Government to get it right for the country.

When UK PLC goes travelling, relocation needs to be on the plane with the Ministers and trade ambassadors. I’m delighted to see the ARP is working towards that now. They’ve recently stepped up to the plate in a way never done before.

Will this work? Wrong question! ‘What needs to happen to make it work’ is the only question.

If we get this wrong, the UK will drift off somewhere into the Mid-Atlantic with its heritage and memories. But if we get this right, Britain and Northern Ireland will move on up the relocation pecking order, and become the place you see from the air with all the runway lights on as a brilliant and attractive place to land your business and its staff.

I know that’s totally achievable. I’ve met enough visionaries in the sector to turn this idea into reality. It’s time to make a start.


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