Update from Worcestershire LEP Chair, Mark Stansfeld: May 2015

During my first few weeks as Chair of the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (WLEP) I have already seen some of the incredible work taking place across the County and some exciting opportunities for businesses to get further involved.

Following the general election earlier this month, I would like to begin by adding my congratulations to all six of the newly-elected Worcestershire MPs who we look forward to working with over the coming weeks and months. Congratulations also to Bromsgrove’s MP, Sajid Javid, on his appointment as Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, and to West Worcestershire’s MP, Harriet Baldwin, who has been appointed Economic Secretary to the Treasury (City Minister).

There is an imminent funding deadline that I would like to highlight. I would strongly encourage Worcestershire’s horticultural owners and businesses to ensure they apply at the earliest opportunity for a share of £300,000 of funding from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) before the 19 June 2015 deadline.

We have also had some excellent events in recent weeks and on 28 April, we welcomed a room full of investors and developers at the World Class Worcestershire investment event held at Worcestershire County Cricket Club. An excellent keynote speech provided by Lord Mervyn King highlighted how the County was an excellent place to invest. I do believe we all have a role of raising the profile of the County as a place to live, work, visit, invest and do business and so please do take opportunities to do so.

Thank you also to those who attended the ‘Future of Engineering Skills in Worcestershire’ event to discuss skills in one of Worcestershire’s priority sectors. We have collated the feedback and will now work with businesses, partners and training providers to develop plans to ensure Worcestershire continues to have the skilled workforce to support this important sector. Please also remember to register for the Cotswold Life’s Engineering Manufacturing and Innovation awards by the 25 May deadline, as we hope to be celebrating the success of the County’s Advanced Manufacturing sector in these awards.

Last week It was also my pleasure to present the Young Enterprise Awards  – it was an inspiring evening and this scheme really does increase the entrepreneurial culture of the young people in our County. We are suggesting more schools get involved but also further sponsorship from local businesses is needed. If you haven’t been involved yet, please do consider how you could do so to help develop the County’s future workforce.

I am sure we would all also agree that giving young people opportunities to gain meaningful work experience is valuable, if not critical, in helping them understand what they may want to do when they leave school. The Connecting Schools and Business scheme does just that and is an excellent way to assist businesses in offering placements to those who have an interest in their work specialism. All high schools in Worcestershire have signed up to the dedicated web portal and I would encourage all businesses to do the same. Lets really get behind the programme and make it a fantastic success. Please sign up today at www.worcestershireskillscentral.co.uk

There are also many exciting events coming up – too many to list here, so please check our website for more details including details of events and opportunities provided by UKTI during National Export Week next week (18-22 May).

I do hope you find our latest new format e-newsletter helpful for your business. We do want your feedback and so please do let us know what you think – about either format or content. Please send your thoughts to enquiries@wlep.co.uk and I continue to look forward to meeting with more of you in the coming weeks and months.