Andy MacGregor, Managing Director of BT Local Business

Posted by Liverpool and Sefton Chambers of Commerce

Fri 11th, May

Introduce yourself – name, where do you sit in the business, and what does the business do?

Hi, my name is Andy MacGregor and I have been running the BT Local Business for Liverpool Chester and North Wales for over 15 years now, our business and employees purely works for BT and is responsible for sales to businesses with less than 100 Employees. We have a team of 35 people with various roles in the company – Business Development Managers calling customers re upgrades at the exchanges, Account Managers for the larger accounts, Field Specialists and a Support Team that interface with the bigger BT.

What changes would you like to see to improve or develop your sector?

With the need for a reliable internet connection becoming more and more important every day, I am very enthusiastic about the moves being made towards the integration of 4G technology and traditional internet access. For SME’s this really helps provide resilience and can assist in far reaching places. My view would be that it would be great to see more internet connectivity using 4G technology as a back-up and therefore less risk of loss of service to businesses.

What does a typical working day look like?

Breakfast with my family, Office for 8.30, Generally I have 1 or 2 appointments in a day as well, and then back to the office, leave at 6.30 on a good day and home for tea.

What advice would you give your teenage self?

Embrace technology and look at the future, don’t do what others are doing, look at emerging technology and look to start a company in what is not yet happening. Some people may use the term “ride the wave”, however now a days I think being in business with changing technology is already like a series of technological waves, so I think it’s better to “create the wave”.

Where would we find you on your day off?

I have to juggle my love of cycling and golf with family pursuits..!

What is the best advice you have been given in your career?

I think the best advice was “you are only as good as your team” and looking at the highs and lows of my career that is definitely the case, great people equal great results and when you have them that makes work so much easier.

Who is your role model in business?

This is hard, I love different people at different times, I have found that most of my best inspiration has come at training events and just reading blogs.

Why choose Liverpool City Region?

If I am honest Liverpool folks may term myself as a southern softy having come from the West Country and then London, however I met my wife and moved up here 18 years ago and I am pleased to say that I would never leave the area. I think Liverpool and the north west are amazing, with the Lakes up the road and North Wales a short trip away we are blessed to live and work where we do.

 

BT Local Business is hosting our next Meet & Eat on Tuesday 22nd May at Malmaison. Click here to book your place and learn about the 'Future of Business'.

 

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Posted by Paul Cherpeau

Chief Executive

Thu 10th, May

Earlier this week, the Chamber hosted an event with Heathrow Airport to discuss the opportunities for improved UK connectivity as part of the consultation on the Government’s Airport National Policy Statement (NPS) which sets out the need for additional airport capacity in the south-east of England.

With the parliamentary vote on NPS expected in the summer, we heard from some excellent speakers from a range of sectors, all making the compelling case for the need to increase capacity for more domestic flights between London and the rest of the UK.

The clear message from Flybe, Continental Airlines and local airport operators including Liverpool John Lennon Airport was that there are two key issues we need to address to support the commercial case for increased domestic flights. They are the need to address the issue of domestic air passenger duty (APD) which is making UK airports uncompetitive and the need to increase capacity at Heathrow. All were clear that the longer we prevaricate the more likely it is that we will lose out to our global competitors.

To open up new export markets and opportunities for inward investment, particularly post Brexit, we have long argued that we must improve our existing transport infrastructure and improved access to our ports and airports to transport both people and freight is fundamental to that aim.

For the Liverpool city region we have both the opportunity to grow the leisure, tourism and retail sectors as well as promoting our expertise in areas like the creative and digital sectors. As we aspire to attract more global brands to invest in the region however, we need to be able to compete on a level playing field and be more ambitious about what we can achieve.

Supporting the Heathrow proposals is an important piece of the jigsaw and provides a timely opportunity to demonstrate how we can work in partnership at both a political and commercial level to make the case for improved global and domestic connectivity. It is simplistic to pigeon hole the Heathrow development as an investment for ‘the South’ at the expense of the North. Connectivity with the UK’s hub airport immediately enhances our ability to attract even more outstanding international conferences and visitors to the city and would boost our attractiveness to investors in campaigns such as the current bid for Channel 4.

So whilst the Heathrow link is a jigsaw piece, at the same time, we need to continue to look at the whole end to end journey experience, making the business case for improved road and rail links, if we are to achieve real parity in the domestic and global markets and position Liverpool City Region as the best place to start, locate or operate a business in the UK.

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Posted by Neil Ashbridge

Fri 04th, May

UK GDP was estimated to have increased by 0.1% in Q1 ’18, compared with 0.4% in Q4 ’17, making it the slowest rate of growth since Q4’12.  While there were some adverse weather impacts in construction and retail these were generally small.

Within the Liverpool City Region the results of our Quarterly Economic Survey for Q1 ’18 broadly reflected the official data.  Business confidence overall was stable in Q1 ’18 as a sharp pick-up amongst manufacturers helped offset a slight fall among service providers.  This divergence between manufacturing and services was also reflected in the results for domestic and export sales, which dipped slightly in Q1 ’18, driven by a slowdown in services, while manufacturing recorded an increase, in part reversing the sharp fall recorded in Q4 ‘17. Orders also dipped but at a slightly slower pace than for sales and again driven by a easing in services, while manufacturing recorded an upturn.

Investment intentions (capital and labour) for manufacturers increased but remained below their level prior to the EU referendum, while for services intentions were broadly unchanged.  The anticipation of and uncertainty around Brexit appear to be weighing on investment intentions.  Employment intentions fell for both manufacturing and services in Q1 ’18, but are expected to pick-up in Q2 ’18.  Recruitment difficulties remain elevated for both sectors and are seen as a major barrier to business growth over the next two years.

The results for Q1 ’18 suggest that manufacturing growth has rebounded following a slowdown at the end of 2017, while services growth eased.  This could in part reflect a greater exposure to export sales amongst manufacturers, which are benefiting from a competitive exchange rate (16% below its 2015 peak) and strengthening global demand.  Service providers continue to be affected by slower consumption growth due mainly to the squeeze on household incomes caused by higher inflation and weak income growth over the last few years.  The squeeze on incomes however is likely to ease going forward as inflation falls back and income growth picks-up in response to the tightening labour market.

Looking forward, British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) upgraded its UK growth forecast in April from 1.1% to 1.4% for 2018 and from 1.3% to 1.5% for 2019.  The first forecast for growth in 2020 is 1.6%.  The latest Bank of England’s Quarterly Inflation Report expects growth to average 1.75% over the forecast horizon, a slightly faster pace than projected in Q4 ’17, while the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has also increased its growth forecast for the current year by 0.1%, though they expect growth to ease somewhat in 2019 to 1.3% before edging up to1.5% at the end of the forecast.  The slightly improved near term forecasts mainly reflect slightly stronger consumer spending due to the easing in the squeeze on household incomes as inflation falls back and amid a moderate pick-up in pay growth.   Also, UK export growth is expected to remain robust supported by strengthening global growth.

Despite the slightly better forecasts UK growth is expected to remain well below historical averages and among the slowest rates of growth in the G7 until 2020 at the earliest.

While for many businesses the outcome of the Brexit negotiations is a key uncertainty, equally it is important that the domestic agenda is not overlooked.  It is important that the UK Government and regional bodies invest in the supply side of the economy to ease the pressures that are likely to impact businesses due to the UK leaving the EU, and to improve UK productivity, which has languished since the financial crisis.  In particular, a range of national and local infrastructure projects need to be started, while a clear strategy to address the emerging skills deficit needs to actioned.

This quarter, the Chamber’s Quarterly Economic Survey received 114 responses from businesses across the Liverpool City Region, representing almost 11,500 employees. 25% of the businesses that responded were from the manufacturing sector, whilst the remaining 75% came from services.

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Jayne Croft, Solicitor at Brabners

Posted by Liverpool and Sefton Chambers of Commerce

Fri 04th, May

Introduce yourself – Who is Jayne Croft; where do you sit in the business, and what does the business do?

I’m Jayne and I’m a solicitor in our Liverpool based corporate team at Brabners.  We are a full service regional commercial law firm specialising in various sectors including the more established construction, manufacturing and logistics sectors; and the developing creative, digital and technology sector, which happily is experiencing a period of growth in the north.

In addition to my day job, I also sit on the board of directors at the Women’s Organisation and the Gateway Centre on London Road.  I also manage events at Liverpool Ladies Network which is now over 30 years old and going from strength to strength; and I am a co-founder of Future Boss Club which is a networking group aiming at assisting females under the age of 30 with personal and professional development to help them to progress in the workplace. 

Where do you see Brabners in 5 years time?

We are starting a new chapter here with our new managing partner, Nik White taking the helm from the 1st May.  As a firm, we are ambitious and outward looking and I think Nik’s own values reflect this, which can only mean growth and good things for us moving forward.  We have lots of development in the pipeline and I am very much looking forward to seeing the outcome of that.

As a firm we have seen consistent growth in the years following the recession and I would expect that this will continue into the next 5 years.

What advice would you give your teenage self?

When I was a teenager, I was told that ‘someone like me’ couldn’t possibly be a lawyer as I come from Knowsley, and that I would be better off training to be a hairdresser or a nail technician.  At one point, I believed that.  So my advice is that it doesn’t matter where you come from and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  If you work hard enough and have the drive to succeed, then you can be anything you want to be.  Life very rarely hands you opportunities on a plate though, so you have to go out and fight for them and earn your place on the ladder. 

Where would we find you on your day off?

Drinking gin or walking/being walked by my Alaskan Malamute puppy, Mylo (photo credit to Joanna Rose Pet Photogrpahy).

What is the best advice you have been given in your career?

To get out and network.  It is so important to build a network of your own contacts and you are never too young, or too junior, or under qualified to do this.  So many people are frightened of networking because that word has all kinds of connotations that come with it, like an expectation that you must come away from an event with a new piece of business or you’ve failed.  Networking is just about building relationships.  You haven’t lost if you go to an event and don’t win work.  These are slow burn processes which done properly, can be very fruitful.

Who is your role model in business?

I am currently a board member at the Women’s Organisation and our CEO Maggie O’Carroll is an absolute force to be reckoned with.  She is fearless and a champion for women in business.

Why choose Liverpool City Region? –possible - personal community side(you could talk about your involvement with local charities, and other networks?)

As a born and bred Scouser, I feel like I can truthfully say that Liverpool is boss!  We are a friendly and talented bunch and I’d like to see more of that talent staying in the city.  We have so much going on at the minute and I love that we have quirky areas like the Baltic Triangle sitting alongside the more established retail offering at Liverpool ONE.  I love that we have so much regeneration happening.  We recently assisted Peel Ports with the new Everton stadium plans and this is just one of the many initiatives which will bring more people to our city. 

We also have the new Knowledge Quarter which is slowly joining the dots between the academic and business areas of the city.

I sit on the board at the Gateway Conference Centre on London Road which is a charitable organisation providing subsidised meeting rooms to other charitable organisations.  In the last quarter, they subsidised over £30,000 worth of room hire.  They are also experiencing regeneration with the announcement of the new Fabric Quarter drawing on London Road’s rich history.

As a firm with our roots in Liverpool, we love seeing and contributing to this continued growth and hope to be a part of it moving forward.

What would you like to see improve or develop in your sector?

There remains a massive equality gap in the legal sector which has historically been male dominated.  Whilst we have hard evidence that more females are completing law degrees, achieving better results and also going on to get training contracts, there is still a drop off point at senior level and this is a gap which I think we are all responsible for helping to close. 

There is a saying that ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’ so I do my bit by using my governance experience to sit on boards and by putting on events through my networks to encourage women to network more and raise their profile.  There are many unsung heroes that are doing amazing things every day and it is important that we get to hear about them so our young females have role models to inspire them.  Research has clearly shown that more successful boards are those that are more diverse.  Here at Brabners, we are also working to actively close the gender gap and are currently working on an improved equality and diversity strategy, so watch this space!

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Posted by Liverpool and Sefton Chambers of Commerce

Fri 27th, Apr

Liverpool and Sefton Chambers of Commerce in partnership with the Institute of Directors and Merseytravel, hosted a sell-out event - ‘Business through Brexit’ on Friday 27 April attracting business delegates from across the Liverpool City Region.

We had an excellent panel of speakers, including the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), the US Embassy, BDO and local MP for Riverside, Louise Ellman , as well as our export champions, Tithebarn and Clarke Energy. The event was chaired by Liverpool’s Echo and Business Post Executive Business Editor, Alistair Houghton. The discussion focused on the local and national economy using the latest Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) results, as well as the ongoing uncertainty around Brexit, and what businesses can be doing now to prepare.

Suren Thiru, Head of Economics and Business Finance at BCC, gave a breakdown of the national QES survey results, as well as the more local North West results. Despite the slowdown in UK economic growth this quarter, exports have strengthened. It was inevitable however, that Brexit would have an impact on growth so whilst the UK does continue to grow it is at a rate below historical trends and is set to be among the lowest of the G7.

Anastassia Beliakova, Head of Trade Policy at BCC, outlined the BCC’s position and addressed topical issues including the stalemate with Northern Ireland/Republic of Ireland border mediations, the future of custom union deals and trade policies and whether negotiations will be based on sovereignty or market access. Whilst there has been some limited progress it has been slow and businesses need to look at things they can be doing now. She also touched on the negative perception of Brexit in the media, which focused a lot on what we are losing, with no clear idea of what we might be gaining.

Experienced exporters, Denis Sowler of Tithebarn and Alex Marshall of Clarke Energy discussed their preparations for Brexit. Both agreed that it is confounding for businesses to prepare for something that is unknown. Denis Sowler highlighted issues around handling client concerns around the impact on their business, shifts in the relative strength of sterling which affected material costs and affordability of products for clients. Overall however, their underlying message was that good business will succeed – if you have a good product, you will always be able to trade, regardless of any changes to policy.

This view was supported by Jim Lindley, Commercial Counselor within the US Embassy in London. There are over 7,500 US companies operating in the UK, employing over 1 million British citizens, who share some of the concerns of domestic businesses. US businesses in the UK however are building capacity as the UK is still seen as a strong trading partner. However, real clarity is needed from key decision makers to match that level of interest and willingness to succeed.

Mark Sykes, Partner at BDO, described how important it was for businesses to look at how they could operate differently. With the information available, it was important to ask what Brexit will do for you, , despite the ongoing uncertainty. The difficulties for businesses recruiting were also raised, particularly around attracting skills from across a global economy.

Louise Ellman, MP for Riverside highlighted issues around the uncertainty, conflict and complexity within government and emphasised the importance for delegates to do their own analysis.

Denis Sowler and Jim Lindley also emphasised the importance of engaging with and utilising local chambers, the BCC, and other business advice services to get prepared. BCC have produced a Business Brexit Checklist to encourage businesses to check the health of their business and to better prepare. To get your copy contact export@liverpoolchamber.org.uk

If you would like more information, the following events might be of interest:

  • “Moving Goods in a Post-Brexit World” on Wednesday 16th May 2018 - Book here
  • “Economic Business Breakfast: Skills” looking at the next quarter’s results and challenges faced by business on Friday 27th July 2018 - Book here

Contact events@liverpoolchamber.org.uk for more information.

You can also find a link to the Monthly Economic Review on the BCC website

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Elena Enciso, International Trade Manager at the Chamber

Posted by Liverpool and Sefton Chambers of Commerce

Fri 27th, Apr

Introduce yourself – Who is Elena Enciso; where do you sit in the business, and what does the business do? –

Elena Enciso, International Trade Manager, Liverpool and Sefton Chambers of Commerce. I have just returned to the Chamber after a 12 month secondment with the Department for International Trade.

Where do you see Liverpool and Sefton Chambers of Commerce  in 5 years time?

I like to think that we will be at the heart of the business community providing a one stop shop for all the local business needs. Providing a clear and first class service to members, enhancing the business environment, and providing useful partnerships that will help to grow businesses of all sizes.   

What advice would you give your teenage self?

To never assume anything, to find the right balance in life, and to be happy.

Where would we find you on your day off?

Since my children have become teenagers and are more independent I have discovered time for myself again! My amazing day off would start nice and early - cycling off road for a couple of hours with my husband , a catch-up and coffee with friends or family, visiting a local attraction, festival or museum; and finally cooking - without pressure - a lovely evening meal  to enjoy with my family, with a glass of Rioja (Ramon Bilbao if possible!).

What is the best advice you have been given in your career?

Plan ahead, and don’t run before you can walk. Work hard, when you do this good things will follow.

Who is your role model in business?

J.K. Rowling, author of the best-selling children's book series "Harry Potter - she knows how to deal with adversity.

Why choose Liverpool City Region?

Liverpool is a great city with excellent transport connectivity, growth sectors and economic opportunities in many areas, tourist appeal and welcoming population. Why look somewhere else?

What would you like to see improve or develop in your sector?

As the Brexit transition period was announced; I would welcome clarity from the Government on international trade procedures. We want to provide our members with the knowledge to prepare for different Brexit outcomes, and build up a solution platform to mitigate risks and costs for business. We want to stop having to anticipate what may happen and start planning ahead.

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Steven Hunt, Managing Director at Steven Hunt & Associates

Posted by Liverpool and Sefton Chambers of Commerce

Fri 20th, Apr

Introduce yourself – who you are, where you sit in the business and what does the business do?

Hi everyone, I am Steve Hunt, the managing director of Steven Hunt & Associates. We are a mechanical and electrical engineering design specialist, with nearly three decades worth of experience in the sector.

Having shaped everything from large multi-million pound developments to small-scale, intimate projects and everything in-between, we pride ourselves on ensuring that the risk and cost base of any scheme of any size is lowered.

Being a certified level 2 BIM practioner, we have the edge over our competitors, with the ability to meet any brief, working collaboratively with other suppliers to ensure that the final design is clear and concise enough to be taken straight to the construction stage, in turn, reducing waste and ultimately saving the client time and money.

Where do you see Steven A Hunt and Associates in 5 years’ time?

In five years’ time, we will have already celebrated our 30th birthday and by then it would be nice to have grown and expanded further on a national scale. We have a great reputation for our work in the North West and with some of the best engineers in the region currently at our disposal, it would be nice to share our practices further afield, as well as cementing ourselves as the go to M&E consultants in Liverpool.

How and why did the business start?

My father was an electrician when I was growing up and from a very young age, I was obsessed and fascinated by watching him work. As a child, I always knew I wanted to create things and after starting off as an apprentice engineer at the age of 16, I always dreamt about running my own business.

I founded Steven Hunt & Associates at the age of 24 and since then the company has slowly grown and expanded in Merseyside and the North West, with 2018 already looking like a ground-breaking year for the company.

What advice would you give your teenage self?

I’d tell my young self, to trust his own judgement and to have more self-belief. Luckily for me I always had a dream of what I wanted to do in life and that has really helped me now as a managing director, as I constantly try to give my young staff members the belief that I at times lacked as a teen.

Who is your role model in business?

I don’t have a specific role model, but I do gain inspiration from men and women in business who constantly strive for greatness, both for themselves, their company and for their work force.

Attending sector events such as IHEEM and MIPIM, I regularly network and mix with fellow business leaders and it is hard not to be impressed by those leaders who are confident, charismatic and driven to succeed.

Why choose Liverpool City Region?

Liverpool was where I was born more than 50 years ago and my first real taste of engineering came at Liverpool Community College, so the city has always been my home.

Liverpool has so much going for it and so much history, culture and architecture, so to set up a business in the city region and to work on projects such as the Royal Court and Aintree Racecourse’s equestrian centre, makes my decision back in the late 80’s a justified one.

I am now aiming to bring on the next generation of engineers and I am also open to giving talented and enthusiastic professionals a chance at the company if they fit the bill.

What would you like to see improve or develop in your sector?

I think it is crucial that the sector continues to adapt to its surroundings. Retailers are beginning to realise that planning is crucial for them in order to save money and that is where companies like ourselves come in.

We can do the hard work for these retailers, but engineers need to be adequately trained to do so and contractors need to realise that they cannot simply cut corners in order to do jobs in the quickest possible time.

Technology is constantly evolving in our sector too and with BIM, Auto-CAD and other programmes hitting the market and evolving on an almost monthly basis, it is important that we use these products to their full potential.

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Lee Stanley, Head of Business Development at the Chamber

Posted by Liverpool and Sefton Chambers of Commerce

Fri 06th, Apr

Introduce yourself

Lee Stanley, Head of Business Development, Liverpool and Sefton Chambers of Commerce.

I am very much looking forward to meeting our members over the coming weeks and months. I am excited at the prospect of delivering a first class service for existing members, and welcoming new opportunities to work with businesses in our area. I want the Chamber to be recognised as a key partner to all, and for us to be admired for having positive and successful impacts on our clients.

What do you want to achieve in your new role with the Chamber?

I want to use my experience from my previous roles to bring some fresh ideas to the table. I want to focus on developing our membership offers to provide a real tangible return on the investment to our partners.  My ambition is to contribute to the great work that the team already provides here at the Chamber, and to become more visible to members. I am looking forward to the start of many meaningful dialogues with all I meet, to help shape the exciting future ahead.

What advice would you give your teenage self?

I have two: to carry out a random act of kindness everyday – this will benefit yourself and the community that you live in; and have as much fun as you can!

Where would we find you on your day off?

As a proud father, you will find me spending time with my family, watching them achieve through sport, education and having fun!

Who is your role model in business?

Anyone that starts their own business is a role model. To pick one, would be Richard Branson - The Virgin Group now controls over 400 companies, so is doing something right.

What is the best advice you have been given in your career?

I have been given lots of great advice over the years. One I always reflect on is “Every person you meet is a potential door to a new opportunity” - personally and professionally.

Why choose Liverpool City Region?       

I have always been extremely proud and passionate about being born and raised in Liverpool. I see working for the Chamber as an opportunity to contribute to the ongoing success of the region. The future of Liverpool is bright, and it is a great place to work with the people to match too!

What would you like to see improve or develop in your sector?

Something which I have always thought is valuable, and I believe needs to be done more, is the sharing of best practice and ideas. I hope my appointment at the Liverpool Chamber can enable me to work with the whole of the British network to bring a meaningful service and membership out to clients and customers.

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Simon Evans, Partner at Lewis Evans

Posted by Liverpool and Sefton Chambers of Commerce

Tue 03rd, Apr

Introduce yourself – who you are, where you sit in the business and what does the business do?

Simon Evans, Partner at Lewis Evans.  We are a chartered accountancy firm based in West Kirby on the Wirral with many fantastic clients across the Liverpool City Region.

Where do you see Lewis Evans in 5 years time?

I’d like to see us continue to grow and expand organically with the same ethos we have now.  A lot of our growth has been through word of mouth based on our levels of service in accountancy, tax, audit and other areas and we are extremely grateful for that and aim to continue to produce for our clients in a friendly and pro-active way.  We expect to have opened a second office by then as well. One of our strengths is our people, with their knowledge, experience and approach.  

How and why did the business start?

My wife, Rosie, and I always had an urge to do our own thing and to take our larger firm experience into something smaller and more client focused.    

What advice would you give your teenage self?

How long have you got?!  I suppose to relax and enjoy it more and perhaps also to get a decent haircut!

Who is your role model in business?

I’ve never been one for ego driven big business leaders but I am often amazed by our clients and their entrepreneurial spirit or commitment in the face of adversity.  We work with charities locally and nationally as well and there are plenty of role models to be found in that sector.     

Why choose Liverpool City Region?

Because it’s the best place to live and work in the UK!  I worked in London for many years and we have clients there which means I can visit and keep in touch which is great but I’m always more than happy to get the train home.

What would you like to see improve or develop in your sector?

Sometimes our sector can be slow to adapt to change and as things are moving so quickly it is a challenging time for some accountants I think.  The industry has always had a reputation for being boring so it would be great to see people’s perceptions change as well but I think that is probably unlikely! 

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As Chair of Liverpool & Sefton Chambers of Commerce, I am delighted to have the opportunity to be one of the first contributors to the Voice of Business newsletter.

Posted by Neil Ashbridge

Tue 03rd, Apr

These are both exciting and challenging times for businesses across the UK, but particularly in the Liverpool City Region. For example, the Northern Powerhouse appears to be back on the agenda, with a focus primarily on improved transport infrastructure through Transport for the North’s draft Strategic Transport Plan. It is crucial that the LCR continues to be a key partner in both the development and delivery of this ambitious programme and, with the support of members, the Chamber will continue to work with both the private and public sectors to demonstrate the case for more investment from the government.  

On a less positive “Northern” note however, the Children’s Commissioner report published last week, Growing up North: A generation of children await the powerhouse promise, highlighted the fact that a disproportionate number of children in the North are growing up in communities of entrenched disadvantage which have not enjoyed the economic growth that has helped to boost opportunities in other areas of the country. The report concludes that more than half of the secondary schools serving the North’s most deprived communities are judged to be less than good, with large numbers of children dropping out of education before they reach 18 and a lack of confidence amongst children themselves that economic regeneration will mean more jobs or opportunities.

Issues around educational and skills attainment are not unique to the North. Nor is this a universal problem across the region where there are many excellent examples that we should be proud of, including specific initiatives to tackle these issues. It does however underline both the immediate and longer term challenges facing local businesses and as a result, potentially stifling economic growth.

The conclusions of this report are particularly pertinent when looking at the responses to our latest quarterly economic survey (QES), where some of the main challenges highlighted by respondents continue to be recruitment and skills related, despite increased confidence overall.

The skills agenda is one of the Chamber’s priority policy areas. We will continue to work with partners to support national and local programmes which brings together employers and young people of all ages to broaden their horizons, encourage them to be ambitious and aspirational and deliver a wider range of job opportunities across the city region.

We will be discussing the key results of the QES in more detail at our business breakfast briefing where the main theme will be Business through Brexit. I do hope you will be able to join us and our expert panel on Friday 27 April.

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