Newsletter - Voice of the Chamber: Neil Ashbridge

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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