I was humbled that around 70 members turned out on a cold and dull late November morning for our 73rd AGM. It’s quite a procedural affair where we approve the annual accounts, our President, Kate Beardmore, reviews the previous year’s performance, we appoint our auditors and approve the election of Members to the Chambers’ Council.
Glynn Jones gave a fascinating insight of the state of our economy caused by the ‘four shocks’ of war in Ukraine, the state of the labour market, Government fiscal policy and financial market volatility. We got a real insight into the wealth and depth of information that the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) needs to consider when they decide on whether interest rates will go up or down each month. The bad news is that the Bank thinks we are in for a prolonged recession tempered by the slightly better news that it will not be as deep as the one caused by the 2008 global financial crash.
The current skills crisis is having a marked effect on UK plc’s overall performance. It is estimated that around 600,000 people have ‘disappeared’ from the labour market since the pandemic, either due to illness, mental health or through taking a decision to step away from work following the huge upheaval caused by the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns.
Where older experienced workers have moved from employment, we have been left with a widening skills gap that in the words of Glynn Jones: “will take time to unwind”.
Forgive me if I repeat myself but therefore, I am so pleased that that Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce will lead the development and delivery of the Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP) for Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire. Giving us the opportunity to build upon our skills delivery work to date and bring together employers, training providers and other key stakeholders across all sectors (via our sector forums) to enable us to respond to local skills priorities.
This initiative must work as without the skills we won’t have growth and the local economy and in turn, the population will suffer as a result. I’m confident it will work if we all get involved and I would ask anyone with a vested interest in skills to sign up to our short survey which will be running for the next six months. To get involved please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our Patron events are always a real pleasure and yesterday’s lunch was no exception.
We have now 26 Patrons, representing manufacturing, professional services, education, healthcare, utilities and local government.
Between them our patrons provide thousands of jobs and apprenticeships and contribute millions of pounds to our local economy.
However, the real value lies in the network of support they provide which underpins the Chambers business community. All our patrons are willing to give back to create further growth in the local economy. They provide their expertise, knowledge and guidance to steer the Chambers policy and service delivery and help to amplify the voice of business.
In turn, we provide Patrons with regular access to key influencers and decision makers in Government and other agencies. They are invited to the Annual British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) conference and earlier in the year several Patrons joined our trip to the Houses of Parliament to meet local MPs and Government Ministers.
This contact with our local MPs is vital as they are our direct conduit to government and with an election not too far off, we expect to see increased contact with MPs as they look to defend their seats.
Reflecting on the day later made me realise just how fortunate we are to have such an incredibly supportive and positive Chamber and business community who are able to rise above external factors, help one another and get on with the job.
Thank you all.
If you want to talk to us about any business issues, including funding, you can call our switchboard on 01782 202222 or call the Stoke and Staffs Growth Hub Helpline on 0300 111 8002 or email: email@example.com