I spent part of last week supporting UK companies engaged overseas in winning export orders. Landing business is never easy. However more tech firms are established in the UK – with more being established every year – than in any other European country. Not only are we renowned for our services and the massive financial benefit of the “invisible exports” they generate, our skills in high value, high tech, manufacturing are widely respected. In sharp contrast to the reputation we may have laboured under not long ago our partners find that when they engage with UK companies they often find we have “under pitched and over delivered” with UK firms being highly regarded for their output and delivery.
While the economy has experienced a significant bounce in GDP from the worst of the Covid trough there is still a very long way to go to recapture former levels of economic activity. In doing so we will necessarily be impacted by measures that must be maintained to restrict the impact and spread of Covid. In doing so we are in an identical position to many of our European neighbours – which in turn has a knock on impact.
Certain sectors are inevitably hit harder and given our local economic reliance on aviation the downturn has a real impact economically but above all on people lives.
In addition to the wide range of national measures, the Government is providing significant extra funding to Local Enterprise Partnerships and I am pleased by both the forward leaning ideas and close liaison with manufacturing firms our LEP, Coast to Capital, are undertaking to boot innovation and ultimately jobs.
More immediately, the Government’s Kickstarter scheme opened last week providing £2 billion worth of funding to allow businesses to help young people, aged 16 to 24, into work through six-month traineeships. I am confident there will be a very strong take-up: the scheme will initially be open until December 2021, but there is the option for it to be extended. Young people will be referred into the new roles through their Jobcentre Plus work coach with the first Kickstarts expected to begin at the start of November.
This is a particularly tough time for many, especially as the cause of this global downturn is so insidious in its effects. As well as the strategic work of the LEP I have liaised with our local Job Centre Plus who are deeply committed to assisting recruitment and providing support and if necessary retraining.
We need to maintain to the very best of our ability the strength of our economy- which supports so much that is critical to us all - and Government efforts are absolutely targeted at minimising the downturn and supporting that return to growth.
Photo Credit: While many village social and fundraising events have had to be cancelled a huge amount of voluntary work continues in all our communities. Jeremy Quin was pleased to meet Slinfold residents enjoying a (socially distanced) break after their monthly session keeping the village churchyard in good order.