Members joined for the last event of the year, ‘Celebration of success 2018: In conclusion…’ a panel discussion chaired by Caroline Theobald of The Bridge Club. The panel discussed how economics, business, housing and skills impact our members in the Tees Valley, and included Mauricio Armellini - North East Agent of the Bank of England, Carla Keegans – MD of The Ethical Lettings Agency, James Robson - Chair of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum, and Ben Mason, founder of Global Bridge.
Caroline Theobald began the evening by sharing good news that has come out of the Tees Valley over the past few weeks. She went on to ask the panel to introduce themselves and to share what is high on their agenda.
Mauricio Armellini: “Jobs and employment are on the up, there has been a significant change over the last 12 months across the north east, especially the Tees Valley. Two positives, finding the right people for jobs and wage growth. Exporters across the Tees Valley have benefitted from the referendum, which has helped a range of Tees Valley industries to grow.
Carla Keegans: “There is an increasing need across the Tees Valley for homes with home ownership reducing dramatically. We provide options to those who are in need of housing, it’s the first of its kind in England, but we need to tackle housing issues at a local level and help turn it around.”
Ben Mason: “There is an issue displaying talents of pupils leaving school, we have developed a safe multimedia platform that demonstrates personality and skills. The government are putting a strain on schools to achieve a range of outputs that are constantly not being met by schools across the UK. We need to engage with children before they get to the stage of choosing a career path.”
James Robson: “My aim as chair of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum is to grow the number of members across the Tees Valley, it’s a great place for advice, to share difficulties and to find a solution. Access to funding can be a huge problem.”
Caroline asked our panel if there is a problem retaining skills within the region.
James: “Attracting the right people can be difficult, there are so many industries that are facing vast problems, software developers are in high demand as they are often poached and they move around jobs a lot. Also, we are short of engineers in specific age groups, initiatives are in place to close the gap but we need to make sure we are planning for future needs.”
Mauricio: “There is a huge recruitment difficulty, brick layers, truck drivers are in high demand. There is a supply shortage certainly and a lot of people try to train their own employees but a small percentage of that is taking place.”
Ben: “Two thirds of pupils leave education and don’t go to university and the structure to help them into work is limited. There’s a serious talent pool of young people to reach and we are trying to create an organised method to close that gap.”
Caroline raised the issue of NEETs and the unemployed and asked our panel “what is the impact?”
Carla: ”12m people in Britain can’t pay mortgage without housing benefit, life expectancy is low for those who fall under this category. There are huge numbers of people that are homeless and work, if I can give any advice to businesses in this room it would be to remove the stigma in the workplace for people who are struggling, and if possible have a pot of funds available for people who need help, with things like paying a bond. We are a very proud region and we won’t speak up if we need help. It has a huge knock on effect, on families, society and education."
Finally, Caroline wanted to know: “If you had a magic wand, what would you like to see happen over the next 12 months within the Tees Valley?”
Mauricio: “To remove uncertainty in businesses.”
Carla: “For everyone in this room to think like a social entrepreneur. Take risks, be motivated and consider what extra things could you do? Adding value to the Tees Valley.”
Ben: “Expectations in education are huge, from pupils needing to achieve seven employer encounters plus work experiences places to find. There’s no great link between employers and education, there’s a huge race against councils and authorities to get it right. Tees Valley is at the forefront and there is a huge opportunity. The main issue we face is to influence pupils and catch the talent. Too often, people leave the region to get their ‘dream’ job, and they don’t realise the potential that the Tees Valley holds. I would like to catch talent and keep it in the Tees Valley. “
James: “It would be to promote the Entrepreneurs Forum further and to set up a catalyst investor group to work alongside small businesses. It would join companies as an investor/mentor to aid in bringing in big investors and opportunities. Some deals are small and it’s difficult to find the right investor, so by establishing a small group of people to point people in the right direction would help. This happens all around the country but there isn’t a group in the Tees Valley, which I am trying to change.”
We hope you all have a great Christmas and we look forward to seeing you in the New Year, at our January event.