Creating employment, supporting young entrepreneurs, up-skilling the workforce as well as bolstering the tourism industry and unlocking growth by investing in sustainable growth, formed the bedrock of a Q&A at at Enterprise M3's 2019-20 Annual General Meeting.
In response to a question on how the LEP would support businesses and individuals after furloughing ends, chair Dave Axam, said:
We are acutely aware of the rise in unemployment that will almost inevitably come and there will be some very tough decisions that will come at the end of furloughing.
We must grow new jobs to replace those jobs that are lost and we must fundamentally invest to enable people coming in to the workplace, and the people in the workplace, to be able to skill and reskill.
Board member Barney Ely, MD of Hayes Specialist Recruitment, said creating employment was absolutely crucial because following the last recession, job growth from 2010-2018 was 6.3% in the EM3 region while in England, it was just under 13%. Yet, coming into the COVID crisis, EM3 was ranked second in employment for all LEPs in the UK and fourth in productivity.
We are very conscious that despite being a relatively high employment area, that job growth is very important.
With regards to the talent commuting away from our region to London, we now have an opportunity with our employers and businesses to work on the changing world of work, how that looks and how we can take advantage of that.
Board member Linda Cheung, Co-founder of Intrapreneur Nation, highlighted how the recession would be an opportunity for the LEP to support young entrepreneurs.
Funds are still available from the Funding Escalator – loans and equity – that can support innovation. It is a theme we champion here and another option beyond getting jobs is to create them. How can young people in our region create jobs for other young people and how can we support them to do that?
Concern was raised about damage to the rural and visitor economies, an industry which employs one in 12 people in the LEP region.
Board member James Cretney, chief executive of Marwell Wildlife, said:
The LEP is working very closely with Tourism South East, and also through the Growth Hub. It’s absolutely critical we get moving as soon as possible. Areas like the Growth Hub are absolutely key in signposting people to areas where they can pretty quickly get support and guidance, to what they can do to move out of this situation as quickly as possible.
This also plays to skills and where there will be casualties, how can we retrain and reskill people as quickly as possible? Tourism is championed and the LEP has made, very quickly, great strides in seeing how it can work with partners to help their future.
In response to how the LEP could restore confidence in public transport, Board member Ross McNally, executive chair and chief executive of Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, said the LEP was working in partnership with Transport for the South East.
Ross, who sits on the Board of Transport for the South East, said the organisation was seeking statutory powers to shape the region’s future transport following a consultation with businesses and communities on a major transport plan.
Sustainability is a number one, two and three priority. Every part has a sustainability threshold.
They’re looking at achieving net zero carbon by 2050, with an acceleration to achieve that well before that standard date.
Road investment is only where it unlocks growth, not just about roads for the sake of it and there will be improvements around integration and rail connectivity. There’s no doubt that as the statutory powers come through, we’ll see a greater commitment to sustainable travel.
The online webinar also launched the LEP’s Annual Report, which went fully digital for 2019-20 and which can be found here.
Belvedere House, Basing View,
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