While we are glued to the data and await the decision on the next step on lifting lockdown scheduled for 14th June, it is apparent that “Step 3” of the “unlocking” which we entered on 17th May is having a beneficial effect on many businesses and employees. Many have returned to work from furlough and for others it has allowed them to start a new role.
Our local Job Centre Plus are particularly focussed, especially at this time of year, on youth employment and are now able to see 18-24 year olds in their Youth Employment Support Hub in Swan Walk, Horsham. (More information can be found on line.)
The JCP have also been supporting those of all-ages wanting to undertake short term training courses to allow them to enter new fields of work.
While numbers seeking work locally (which climbed dramatically during the pandemic) is beginning to show positive trends I am conscious that this is prior to the furlough scheme ending. In particular the pandemic continues to impact aviation: which has a profound economic and employment impact on Crawley and the surrounding areas. (It is estimated that pre pandemic some 10,000 Horsham District residents commuted to Crawley - many to undertake roles associated with aviation, travel and tourism).
I was pleased to hear last week about plans to develop an Innovation Centre in the Manor Royal business park in Crawley. Manor Royal is home to a number of high tech manufacturing and digital companies that are in need of highly skilled workers. The Innovation Centre, it is hoped, will create an eco-system between these big businesses and SMEs, entrepreneurs and medium sized businesses, allowing for a sustainable development of a highly skilled workforce.
The scheme has secured initial funding and I am very keen to see how the project develops and the opportunities it will bring to Horsham businesses and residents.
Locally, I am very pleased to see so many independent businesses continuing to open stores within Horsham town. From Piries Place, to Middle Street, the Carfax and East Street, there are new businesses opening offering everything from home interiors, clothes and food.
Offering shoppers a diverse choice on our high street will continue to make Horsham a desirable place for people to come and spend their leisure time and money. It is great to see this investment in our town centre and I do wish these new businesses the very best in their ventures.