Digital skills coaching session – Scarborough, 2 May

A Google Digital Garage event is set to be held at CU Scarborough, part of the Coventry University Group, on Wednesday May 2. The event, which is the only one in the county, has been organised by Yorkshire in Business and will provide essential information to help businesses succeed online.

Training will be delivered by specialist business advisers who will provide digital skills coaching including how to build a digital marketing plan, an introduction to digital advertising and how to use Google analytics. Yorkshire in Business has been providing business start-up advice and support for more than 30 years along the Yorkshire coast. The event is part of Google Digital Garage on Tour, which has seen workshops held in major towns and cities across the UK including Manchester, Birmingham and Newcastle.

Jennifer Crowther, Head of Operations at Yorkshire in Business, said: “It is a great achievement to bring Google to offer this analytics training in the area. This is a fantastic opportunity for all those who are self-employed and running local businesses to develop their marketing skills and knowledge provided by Google themselves. Yorkshire in Business couldn’t provide this without the support from CU Scarborough.”

Tina Steele, Employer Engagement & Business Development Manager at CU Scarborough, said: “It is excellent to welcome Yorkshire in Business to CU Scarborough to deliver a Google Digital Garage workshop providing free support and advice to businesses across the area. Being successful online is essential in today’s modern business world, and the session will help those attending gain new skills and make the most out of the technology available to them. It will also be a good opportunity to meet with likeminded businesspeople and entrepreneurs. CU Scarborough is committed to helping grow the local economy, and this is just one of the ways we are connecting with and supporting businesses in the area. I would urge anyone looking for digital support to come along.”

The session will be held from 10am to 1.30pm and places can be booked here. Further information can be found by emailing jenn@yorkshireinbusiness.org.uk

 

Chambers call for action as growth slows

The Beating Heart of the Economy

New figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that the UK’s economy grew at its slowest rate since 2012 in the first quarter of the year.

Sterling fell sharply as the possibility of an interest rate rise next month decreased. GDP growth was 0.1%, down from 0.4% in the previous quarter, driven by a dip in construction output and a slow manufacturing output (these are national figures – the Chamber’s recent economic survey results tell us that West & North Yorkshire is out-performing the national average). The poor weather of February and March, the so-called ‘Beast of the East’, had a “relatively small” impact, said the ONS. Many economists had forecast first-quarter growth of 0.3%.

A spokesman at the ONS said: “Our initial estimate shows the UK economy growing at its slowest pace in more than five years with weaker manufacturing growth, subdued consumer-facing industries and construction output falling significantly.

“While the snow had some impact on the economy, particularly in construction and some areas of retail, its overall effect was limited with the bad weather actually boosting energy supply and online sales.”

Construction contributed to the drag on GDP, falling 3.3% in early 2018, while manufacturing growth slowed to 0.2%. Consumer-facing industries, including retail, fell sharply amid an on-going spending squeeze caused by higher inflation and slow wage growth.

Adam Marshall of the British Chambers of Commerce has called on the Government to step in and take action.

“Sadly, the latest GDP figures confirm what we have been saying for some time: the UK is stuck in the global growth slow lane, while other countries race ahead. Westminster politicians need to start focusing their attention on a much stronger, more proactive drive to boost growth and investment.

“While the ‘Beast from the East’ clearly had an impact in the first quarter, the underlying slow-growth trend is real cause for concern. Instead of a constant focus on Brexit, business seeks vision and a clear direction from government on UK economic growth. Businesses across the country want the Prime Minister to make a ‘Mansion House Speech’ on the domestic business environment, and what her government will do to improve it.

“All the firms I speak to want to see far more focus on fixing the fundamentals here at home. No country with faltering infrastructure, a training system in chaos and patchy digital connectivity is going to win in the global growth sweepstakes. A back-to-basics approach that delivers concrete improvements would do more to boost productivity and competitiveness than flashy new initiatives, and matters as much as any eventual Brexit deal.”

 

Museum breaks through half-million visitor barrier

Between 1 April 2017 and 31 March 2018, Bradford’s National Science & Media Museum attraction welcomed 505,000 visits, compared to 405,000 for the same period in 2016/17—a 25% increase, year-on-year.

Highlights from the past 12 months include the museum re-branding to focus on the science and culture of image and sound technology, opening a new permanent gallery—Wonderlab—and exhibiting Tim Peake’s spacecraft.

Director Jo Quinton-Tulloch said:

“We’re delighted that our hard work over recent years, which culminated in the launch of our new brand last March, along with a packed programme of new events and activities, has been so well received. It is an ongoing process, but we couldn’t have asked for a better beginning to our new chapter.

“We’ve worked more closely with colleagues in the Science Museum Group, our partners in the district and beyond, and we’ve listened to our visitors. As a result we now have a solid foundation for the future, and we’ve demonstrated the appetite for a dynamic, science-focused attraction here in the heart of Bradford.

“It hasn’t been an easy road to get to this point, but hopefully these figures show that we’re set for success in the long run. Rest assured we won’t be sitting back now.”

The museum’s programme for 2018 includes the major summer family exhibition Action Replay, an interactive exploration of the link between broadcasting technology in Britain and sports. From the earliest television and radio outside broadcasts, to the introduction of colour TV for the 1967 Wimbledon championships, and right up to current innovations such as ‘Ref Cams’, Action Replay will feature some of the key technological advancements that have been bringing fans closer to the sports they love over the past century.

Also in the summer, the museum will again organise the Bradford Science Festival, which last year saw 35,000 people engage with science-themed activities delivered by numerous partners and other organisations across the city centre.

In the long term the museum continues to focus on Sound and Vision, a major permanent gallery which will showcase the treasures of its collection—history-making objects that have changed how people see the world, from the first movie camera and some of the earliest photography and television equipment, to the explosion in internet streaming and social media.

The National Science and Media Museum in Bradford, West Yorkshire, opened in 1983, and has since become one of the most visited UK museums outside London. The museum explores the science and culture of image and sound technologies, creating special exhibitions, interactive galleries and activities for families and adults. It is home to three cinemas, including Europe’s first IMAX cinema screen and the world’s only public Cinerama screen outside the USA. Entry to the museum is free.

New procurement policy aims to boost Bradford businesses

Formal partnership agreements

Bradford Council has a new procurement policy aimed at providing more contracts for locally-based businesses.

The new policy was introduced in April 2018, although we may have to wait some time before we see the full benefits (*).  The major change in the policy is to award additional ‘credit’, above a certain contract price level, to bidders providing ‘social value’ within their communities of the Bradford District.

A range of social value measures are included for bidders to choose from (31 in total), and the number needed including in a bid increase as the value rises.  The policy follows Bradford Council’s intention to increase the level of spending with local suppliers from 47% to 60% within five years.

Details of the policy will be presented at a Chamber of Commerce meeting of Bradford Professionals’ Network on 16 May (7.30-9am), and steps are being taken to help and guide firms that have not bid for public sector contracts before, or been unsuccessful.  It is now hoped that exchange of good practices will take place with other ‘anchor institutions’ in the District, in order to boost economic growth and business support.

One local company has already benefitted from the policy, and more are expected to follow in due course.   The new social value policy is being implemented no contracts above £25,000. (The full name of the policy is ‘Social Value & Inclusive Growth’.)

For more details about the Chamber event on 16 May, call 01274 206660, or email events@wnychamber.co.uk

The new Council policy is online here

(* = The reason we may have to wait some time before recognising full benefits are as follows:  The Council has around 4,500 suppliers, of which 1,200 are paid more than £25,000 per year.  Around 300-350 contracts are provided each year, and therefore implementing social value into the majority of Council contracts may take 4-5 years.)

Chamber report highlights growth opportunities

In order for Bradford to meet the objectives in its new economic growth strategy, more land needs to be made available for employment use.  This is one of the calls to action in a new Chamber of Commerce report, out today (Wednesday 18 April 2018).

The report is available here.

Bradford Property Forum Chair, Allan Booth, of Rance Booth Smith Architects, comments below on the report.

“Bradford is making solid progress in many areas – within business and outside it.  A successful visit to the international property conference, MIPIM took place in March.  Phase Two of Broadway’s leisure development is well underway, and the backing of the company behind Birmingham’s NEC for the Odeon project is surely a vote of confidence.  Elsewhere, Barclays published survey findings in late 2017 stating that the city is the best place in the country in which to start a business.

There is also increasing pressure to bring the proposed Northern Powerhouse Rail line through the city, with a city centre station, which will make a transformational difference to local fortunes.

So, good things are happening and many businesses are looking to expand – and there’s the rub.  In order to accommodate this growth, expansion and success, there needs to be sufficient land available for businesses to plan, build or grow.

Bradford’s growth strategy highlights the need to bring forward more land for development for commercial and industrial use. It sets out to increase the District’s economy by £4bn, getting 20,000 more people into work and raising the skill levels of 48,000 to NVQ3 – all by 2030.

With all this in mind, Bradford Chamber of Commerce has published a report examining the need to identify suitable sites for employment land. The purpose is to help the necessary discussions between planners, agents, developers and the Council to facilitate economic growth and appropriate development in the right places.

Bradford’s Local Plan has identified the need for an additional 135 hectares of employment land in years to come.  Despite an expanding economy and fast-growing population, there is currently less land available for development overall than there was five years ago.

While housing generally commands higher values, we believe it should not be prioritised to the detriment of employment land identification.  Other potential solutions include land swaps, whereby publicly-owned sites are ‘traded’ with privately-owned ones to help facilitate, for example, regeneration, or reduce market blockages. This could be an appropriate solution when assessing existing employment land allocations that are considered unsuitable due to topographic or infrastructure related issues.

These sites may be more appropriate for housing and might be ‘swapped’ with sites that are more appropriate for industry; for example, sites currently on flood plains or close to major transport corridors. Access to publicly under-written bridging finance (often short-term or ‘stop gap’ funding measures used to smooth property transactions) might be helpful and allow companies to move and expand without too much short term cash flow implications.

The Chamber, via its work undertaken in the Property Forum, believes that there is an urgent need to update Bradford’s Employment Land Review, last updated in 2011. Bradford Property Forum and the Chamber generally stands ready to support the Council in developing an employment land policy that will facilitate economic growth and, in turn, deliver greater prosperity and job opportunities for the citizens of the Bradford District.”

NOTES:

  1. The Chamber of Commerce report, entitled “Creating Space for Future Success: Ensuring Growth Happens in Bradford”, was put together by members of Bradford’s Property Forum. It includes examples of companies facing challenges as they seek to expand.
  2. It was sponsored by Incommunities, Johnson Mowat, Rance Booth Smith, Turley and Walker Singleton.
  3. It was written by Allan Booth, Clive Brook, Marianne McCallum, Steve McManus, Jonathan O’Connor and Mike Cartwright.

Pic Caption (L-R): Stephen Miles (Cushman & Wakefield), Jonathan O’Connor (Walker Singleton), Ben Pretty (C&W), Richard Sunderland (CBRE), Allan Booth (Rance Booth Smith)

The report is available here.

Cushman & Wakefield’s and CBRE’s presentations at Bradford Property Forum on 18/04/18 highlighted changes in current market trends in relation to property and future forecasting in how this may continue.  A separate report on this will appear in due course, with presentations made available.

HR research: flexi-working and returner recruitment

HR Professionals are being requested to help with government research underway to understand employers’ views on the barriers to, and facilitators of, flexible working and returner recruitment.

What’s needed?   An hour’s interview time in April or May 2018.

Why?

The Government Equalities Office (GEO) has partnered with the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) to generate evidence on what works to improve gender equality in the workplace. Understanding employers’ views on flexible working and returner recruitment forms an important component of this work.

Who is targeted?

HR Directors (or those at an executive level) from organisations that:

  • Employ over 20 people
  • Do not currently run returner programmes
  • Operate in the following sectors: finance, STEM, retail and wholesale, manufacturing, professional services, creative industries, public sector, law, administrative or support services

Any information will support the research and will be treated as confidential and anonymous.

How to get in touch – email samantha.booth@bi.team.

Any questions – email Lauren.PROBERT@education.gov.uk.