The Business Group’s initial support was directed to the county-wide project aimed at finding more than 100 new apprenticeships in 100 days for young people leaving school. However, it rapidly became clear that much of its effort overlapped with those of the Education Group, so the two merged. The Group now works with the University, further education colleges and schools, as well as companies, business organisations and the Local Enterprise Partnership.
The Group is conscious of the fact that development of many county businesses is constrained by a chronic shortage of skilled employees and is intent on helping wherever possible. In addition to the apprenticeships scheme, the Group has provided practical as well as financial support for the Gloucestershire Bike Project, which offers facilities for young adults to receive training - as does the Gloucestershire Engineering Training (GET) centre set up by employers for youngsters going into electrical and mechanical engineering; one Group member is now intimately involved with GET.
Another member of the Group initiated, and remains key to the success of, the Honourable Company’s Annual Gloucestershire Schools’ Christmas Lectures programme, aimed at exciting the interest of secondary school pupils in STEM subjects (science, technology and maths). There's more on the Schools' Lecture programme here.
The Company established an annual Gloucestershire Debate in 2013 to examine wider national issues affecting the county. In July, the latest debate, held at Wycliffe College, Stonehouse, centred on whether retail marketing was misleading for the general public. Four speakers representing variously farming, supplier and supermarket viewpoints presented their cases eloquently before taking part in lively Q&A session with an audience of some 40 members and guests. The debate was ably chaired by Ian Mean and while there was no conclusive outcome, the general consensus was that purchasers were too trusting. Caveat emptor!
Pictured below are the participants at the 7 July Supper Debate. From left to right they are: David Burgess, Andrew Guest, Ian Mean, Adam Starkey and Neil Sachdev.
Although unable itself to deliver business projects directly, the Group works with business organisations and individuals, using the expertise and knowledge of its members, all of whom have board level experience, to influence growth and wellbeing in the county’s economy. The Chair, Marcus Steel, would welcome any enquiry from the wider membership where his Business Group’s expertise might be able to assist in any way.
Within the objectives of the Honourable Company – to promote Gloucestershire values and the interests of the county's communities and businesses – the Business Group's Terms of Reference are:
• Identify issues, which are impeding the growth and health of the economy of the county. This includes education and training as it relates to employment and the economy.
• The Business Group cannot by itself deliver projects and schemes, so it must engage and work with those interested organisations and individuals.
• Act as an independent group to encourage and support those individuals or organisations that are delivering meaningful change in the county.
• Identify members whose experience, knowledge and expertise may be able to contribute to solving identified problems or issues.
• When appropriate, to utilise the membership to give support to individual businesses or organisations.
• The remit is so wide that it is important to focus, at any one time, on a limited number of objectives.