President's Message - August 2020

Posted: 17th August 2020, 11:53am

I trust you are all keeping well. I’m so looking forward to the opportunity of us all meeting in person again but, for the time being, online meetings and small group gatherings will have to suffice. If there’s anything you’d like the Chamber to be organising for our members do please let me know. For those of you planning to get away (and back!) over the next few weeks I wish you an enjoyable and stress-free break.
All the nominations are now in for this year’s Chamber Community Business Awards and the judges have started the process of shortlisting the nominees. We’ve had some fantastic nominations – there really are so many inspiring people and businesses in our District. Do please remember to keep Thursday 30 September free for our virtual glittering Awards Evening.
As students prepare to receive their GCSE and A-level results in the next 2-3 weeks, the Government is suggesting more school leavers should consider following a more technical further education. The Education Secretary has just confirmed the target to send 50% of students to university is to be dropped, with the emphasis moving to more vocational education.
The degree versus apprenticeship debate is long-running. Both methods of study are highly regarded by employers. The essential aim of a degree is to teach the student how to think and university is respected for the depth of knowledge and transferrable skills it provides. Apprenticeships, no longer dominated by the trades, are valued for their practical nature and real-life work experience opportunities.
Degree apprenticeships bridge the gap between hands-on experience and academic learning, so employers get the best of both worlds – workplace skills and the academic skills to back it up. The apprenticeship standards are designed by employers for specific job roles, so you can tailor them around your business needs. What do you think? For an employer, who make the best employees: graduates or apprentices? Is experience more important than qualifications when hiring young members of staff? What are your priorities in looking for new recruits? Is it their qualifications or experience, their willingness to learn, proactivity, personality, strong interpersonal skills, or an ability to fit in to the company culture? The answer is probably all of these.
And how do your young employees – apprentices and graduates - hone these skills once they are with you? How could the Chamber support the development of your younger staff to become the managers and business leaders of the future? We are planning to develop a networking and skills programme for younger business people, to enable them to forge effective relationships with their peers and, in so doing, bring added value to the employer.
The opportunities to the employer offered by apprenticeships, the resources available help further train and retrain staff and ideas for developing staff business skills will feature in forthcoming Chamber Webinars. Details will be available soon. Do let us know your thoughts.

Alastair Woodgate
Chamber President

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