Techno-Congress at University

Representatives from universities will converge on the University of Bradford for the first World Technology Universities Congress.

The event takes place at the University’s Emm Lane and Richmond Road campuses on 8-9 September 2016 with an extensive programme. It aims to create a global partnership between education, business, governments and development organisations.

The Congress will consider the creation of a World Technology Universities Network and suitable terms of reference, plus how to create opportunities to showcase joint working.

If a core number of universities are in agreement, a statement of intent to develop the Network will be signed.  The Congress will provide a platform for senior figures from higher education, business and government to develop alliances and discuss capacity-building opportunities. It will also consider the importance of educating graduates to be global citizens in a technology-rich 21st Century.

Read more here.

Apprenticeship Levy event: Wed 7 Sep, 8-9.30am, Leeds

The Apprenticeship Levy – Are you Ready?  Wednesday 7 September, 8 – 9.30am; Eversheds, Bridgewater Place, Water Lane, Leeds, LS11 5BZ

The Apprenticeship Levy – to be introduced in April 2017 – is a fundamental change to the way apprenticeships in England are funded.

Employers with a UK pay bill of over £3m will pay 0.5% of their payroll into a levy. The payment will be ring-fenced in the form of an electronic voucher to be used to purchase apprenticeship training.

This event will help us understand the implications, how it will affect your business, and how to prepare for that impact. Places are free but limited; click here to book via eventbrite

Government vows to improve LEP relations

The Government’s re-jigged Business Department has vowed to improve on its existing relationships with Local Enterprise Partnerships.

Business Secretary, Greg Clark
Business Secretary, Greg Clark

Ministers are to act as ‘local growth champions’ to the LEPs, says Business & Energy Secretary Greg Clark.

“I am giving ministers geographic areas of responsibility so they can build on existing relationships to better connect government policy with the businesses and industries we’re working with.”

The minister covering the Humber, York and North Yorkshire, Leeds and Sheffield regions is Nick Hurd (the MP for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner in Greater London).

Chairman of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, Roger Marsh OBE, said: “It is reassuring to see that local growth remains a priority for the new government.  We are delivering impact at a regional level, including unlocking £491m in private sector investment; but we have further to go with a clear vision for growth through local initiatives and I look forward to further building our relationships with government to help us achieve this.”

Rio FanZones in Bradford & Leeds

Did you know that, of only 11 Olympic Games FanZones in the UK currently showing the Rio 2016 highlights, two of them are in Bradford and Leeds?

Centenary Square and Millennium Square are free to enter between now and 22 August, and are showing various events up to 10pm at night, so why not nip along and cheer on Team GB and soak up the atmosphere?

Find out more here.

Uni intern helps with Chamber policy work

A Leeds University student has been helping the local Chamber of Commerce with its research programme following a change in the way that work placements are organised.

West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce recently took on Dan Turner for a month so that the second-year economics under-graduate could develop new skills prior to entering the world of work. He was charged with helping improve the way that the business support organisation collects and collates economic data for its Quarterly Economic Survey. Aswell as securing consistency among survey respondents over successive quarters, Dan spoke to firms to check that the factors that influence their outlook were reflected in the questions, which are replicated nationally in the biggest survey of its kind.

The placement was part of a £19m higher education funded programme to promote a step-change in quantitative social science training across the UK. Leeds University received funding in late 2014 as part of the Q-Step programme. This is the first time that the Chamber has placed students in its operations in this way.

Dan said: “My qualitative skills are developing through communicating with those involved with the chamber and the firms themselves, while my quantitative skills have been stretched by the statistical data analysis and drawing out the conclusions. The insight into the work of the chamber, which clearly plays a big role in the economic and business activity of the region, has also been interesting and relevant to my ongoing study of economics.”

Mark Goldstone, Head of Business Representation & Policy, added:
“It’s been great to have Dan involved – he’s clearly interested and keen in the subject and he’s brought in a new pair of eyes to look at something we do so often that we take for granted. I’m sure that this has been a useful exercise for him and for the university, and it’s something we’ll look to repeat again in the future.”

Aswell as work placements, the Q-Step programme includes

• New modules in quantitative methods and skills
• Deeper embedding of quantitative methods and skills in undergraduate degrees across the social sciences
• The development of digital resources to promote and develop quantitative skills in the social sciences.

More information about the Q-Step programme can be found at www.qstep.leeds.ac.uk/home/.

BCC Monthly Economic Review – August

The latest monthly Economic Review of the British Chambers of Commerce is now available for download here.

The 4-page covers output, consumer spending, employment prospects and inflation.

This month’s headlines:

• UK GDP growth picks up in Q2, but the latest QES indicates weaker growth.
• Bank of England cuts UK interest rates to a new record low of 0.25% and expands QE.
• Eurozone GDP growth weakens in Q2, while consumer spending boosts US GDP growth.

Prime Minister speaks to BCC

The British Chambers of Commerce, along with other organisations, attended the Prime Minister’s SME round table to discuss the Industrial Strategy, and the vote to leave the European Union.

BCC President Francis Martin attended on behalf of the Chamber Network, informing the Prime Minister that many businesses remain confident about future success, but are keen for stability for our markets and economy, clarity on the timetable and approach to our future relationship with the EU, and action on many issues requiring urgent decisions to give confidence to invest and grow.

Francis also emphasised the Chamber Network’s role in helping businesses to export, not just in getting goods to markets overseas but also through our Global Business Network, connecting firms with Chambers and opportunities in markets around the world.

Francis said afterwards:

“Our organisation covers businesses of every size, in every part of the country. We have seen first-hand that the ‘business’ view is not monolithic – Many of our members are taking stock and making the best of the decision to leave the EU, seeking the opportunities on offer as well as considering the challenges.

“At the round table today we urged the PM and her new government to focus on the priorities for our member businesses – clarifying the UK’s future trading relationships, the existing EU regulatory framework, and the stability of the pound.”

On Industrial Strategy, Francis Martin added:

“We are supportive of the proposed Industrial Strategy, but it needs to have a broad-based focus that encourages a partnership between business and government, focusing on areas such as the large skills gap in our workforce and infrastructure projects, that benefit every business.

“The government must in particular address the long-standing under-investment in the UK’s infrastructure. This means action on transport, broadband, and energy generation, which is absolutely vital in driving long-term growth.”

Reaction to rate cut

Commenting on the decision by the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee to lower interest rates, Dr Adam Marshall, Acting Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:

“The Bank of England’s unsurprising decision to cut interest rates reflects an increasingly uncertain outlook for the UK economy as the new government begins to look at our changing relationship with the EU. Lower interest rates may give a helpful boost to market confidence, but have little long-term effect on businesses when rates are already so low. What businesses want is low, stable interest rates for the foreseeable future, which will enable them to make their own growth and expansion plans with confidence.

“The additional measures – expanding QE, purchasing corporate bonds and the new term funding scheme – go beyond what many expected, but will be welcomed by business. The term-funding scheme in particular will help to ensure that businesses benefit from cheaper loans so they can invest and grow.

“The MPC indicated that despite the historic low of 0.25%, the base rate could be cut even further in the coming months. Further rate cuts are unlikely to stimulate the real economy significantly, and also bring the threat of negative interest rates on businesses’ deposits, which will be of significant concern to some.

“Instead of further cuts to rates in the future, the MPC should give careful consideration to developing the other measures announced in order to drive longer-term UK business growth. This could be through further purchases of business bonds, and expanding the scope of their intervention to include investments in the UK’s ageing infrastructure in key areas such as transport and communications.”