As Dover District Chamber of Commerce President, I held a skills summit last week with businesses from across the area at Dover’s Marina Hotel.
I spoke about the challenge of the pandemic business landscape and praised businesses for their resilience and fortitude over the last 20 months. I also discussed OECD data which set out that UK economic growth was predicted to outstrip the Eurozone and United States economy this year. While unemployment had fallen to the lowest rate since Spring 2020, with over a million job vacancies in November.
The Summit looked at the range of training and job opportunities for young people and discussed how Government programmes like Kickstart were working. Contributions were made by the Education Skills Partnership as well as Canterbury Christ Church University, who spoke about their training and job entry schemes.
Training providers, like Fair Employment Training Ltd, based in new offices at Maybrook House in Dover, told the summit how they had adapted to supporting training and recruitment in the virtual and online environment, as well as face-to-face. I welcomed the Institute of Construction Management as a new member of the Dover District Chamber of Commerce.
Business is not out of the woods yet – from the pandemic itself or the post-pandemic recovery. Hospitality and retail have had a particularly tough time, while some online businesses have moved ahead. Locally we have secured new opportunities and significant investment.
The Skills Summit is about making sure that all parts of our community have opportunities to learn and develop. This includes younger people in the most deprived parts of our community, as well as older people looking for a mid-life career change.
I was so impressed at the commitment and enthusiasm of our local businesses. I look forward to working with them all in the New Year to continue to support enterprise and employees make the most of their futures.