Education and support for small businesses highlighted as priorities in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough’s response to the government’s Industrial Strategy

A focus on integrating enterprise with education and supporting small businesses are two of the key recommendations put forward by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough in response to the government’s Industrial Strategy green paper proposals.

The paper set out the government’s initial plans to more evenly distribute economic growth across the UK. Businesses had the chance to comment on the proposals between 23 January and 17 April 2017.

Co-ordinated by economic development company, Opportunity Peterborough, the county-wide response has called for:

  • Better integration of enterprise within education to encourage entrepreneurship and career aspirations amongst young people.
  • Greater collaboration between technical and academic training, particularly around STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects, to address the diverse skill requirements of the area
  • More industry involvement in the establishment and development of local academic institutions and the courses available.
  • Additional funding support for scale-ups and SMEs to help keep product development and industry processes within the UK, whilst encourage exports and reducing costs by harnessing the innovation of SMEs.
  • Improved rail to Birmingham, and road improvements for the A47 and between Cambridge, Milton Keynes and Oxford.
  • Immigration to be addressed. A hot topic for the county’s academic institutions and seasonal industries which will be most affected by any change in regulation. This has not been included in the strategy.

Some of the challenges raised in the response are already being addressed across Peterborough and Cambridgeshire, as examples:

  • In local secondary schools, The Skills Service and Form the Future have been working with young people using interactive workshops and a ‘game-based’ approach to enterprise development that encourages entrepreneurship and the development of career aspirations. Additional successful projects from Europe have been identified that could be trialled in the area to enhance the training and attainment levels.
  • Supporting SME growth is already taking priority in the region with Peterborough’s local authority procurement model promoting the employment of small businesses.
  • Reducing the costs of utilities through collaboration with SMEs has also been proven successful by Opportunity Peterborough and Anglian Water through the Water Innovation Network which has saved around £1 million per annum for Anglian Water by testing and scaling up successful solutions to challenges in the water industry.

Tom Hennessy, head of economic strategy and partnerships at Opportunity Peterborough said, “Whatever the outcome of the general election, we hope that any changes to economic policy will be informed through consultation with businesses and local authorities across the country to ensure the best outcomes.

“The response for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough for the current Industrial Strategy has highlighted the importance of providing greater support to help the country’s small businesses grow whilst developing the right skills in the existing and future workforce to support this expansion.

“Cambridgeshire and Peterborough remain amongst the most enterprising, and fastest growing, places in the UK. This is down to the hard work of the region’s companies and staff, but boosted with the support of successful projects that help companies work together to overcome challenges within their sector or local economy. Such projects can be replicated across the country to emulate Cambridgeshire and Peterborough’s sustained economic strength.”

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