Message from Founder of The 5% Club, Leo Quinn

We can’t let our young people bear the economic brunt of COVID-19


I write to you as the founder of The 5% Club, but also as a fellow business leader, steering carefully through this crisis.

Currently we have Government support for balance sheets and payrolls for the next few months: beyond that, the financial markets seem optimistic that a very difficult year will give way slowly but steadily to a (slightly Darwinian) recovery – that is, nationally if not in every sector.

For me this is only part of the story. Our collective recovery – business, social, economic – will be defined by human, not just financial, capital – or lack of. This pandemic has turned our worlds upside down – will we be able to relocate the talent and skills we previously thought were lining up to drive future growth, innovation, productivity and profits? And beyond next year, the school leavers to prime the same pipeline, over the next 5 to 10 years?

We entered this crisis with a national skills shortage, a half-broken Apprenticeship Levy and an unspecified 2020 Brexit. Today, our education system remains closed, whilst every new survey shows rising youth unemployment, falling numbers in on-the-job training, and the disadvantaged, as ever, suffering the most.

As Britain did with prioritising resourcing for the NHS to cope with COVID-19; then business survival and job retention, so now we need a coherent, integrated Government programme to protect our future talent – the next decade’s talent – and stem the tide of lost schooling, lost school leavers, lost apprentices and graduates, lost futures.

Today’s situation is far worse, potentially, than when I started The 5% Club in 2013. The Club has produced a short proposal We can’t let our young people bear the economic brunt of COVID-19 on what we need done. I am engaging with Government and would appreciate your support to ensure the breadth of our shared concern as employers is not under-estimated. If you support this, simply click the statement below and we will automatically record your support.

Yes Leo, I support this proposal

Additionally, if you could promote this report on social media and share with your contacts, then we can spread our message much further. In turn I will update everyone on the discussions and outcomes we achieve.

Thank you: I believe it’s our job as leaders of businesses of all types and sizes to look beyond the immediate, to what we will need to rebuild a strong, prosperous Britain – for everyone.

I sincerely hope you and all your colleagues stay safe and well .


Leo Quinn
Group Chief Executive, Balfour Beatty plc
Founder, The 5% Club