A champion for the Bury St Edmunds business community, I am always struck by the enterprise spirit, strength of leadership and ‘can do’ attitude which epitomises each and every team I meet. A secret no more; these key ingredients are what drive our businesses to succeed! More broadly though, getting out and regularly speaking with local businesses is the best ‘litmus test’ for the health and vitality of our local economy.
Recent figures show that Bury St Edmunds, when compared to Suffolk and the region, is an attractive place for business. A recent Suffolk Chamber of Commerce survey showed local businesses bucking the trend in orders, sales and profits; again outperforming the regional average. Yet despite this, six in ten Suffolk businesses are struggling to recruit new staff. This modest job growth, echoing the feedback I receive from businesses, is due, in part, to a local skills gap.
From cutting edge life science firms to award-winning, bespoke architectural solutions companies or small start-ups; Suffolk has a real diversity of industry. Very often, one of the primary skills barriers is that in a fast moving, dynamic economy, we do not necessarily know the skills that tomorrow’s employees will need.
It is incumbent on all of us, therefore, to ensure individual talents and abilities are harnessed. So whilst Suffolk Chamber have vowed to “redouble” their efforts, it is my own pledge to drive the partnership between business, education providers and the workforce, whilst leveraging the individual merits of each.
And with our resilient business community expecting to grow further over the year; I see every potential to develop our ‘formula’ for skills and opportunities going forward.
Published in the Bury Free Press