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Doncaster Chamber Welcomes New Vision for South Yorkshire’s Growth and Skills System

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Yesterday, a pair of strategic documents were published by the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (SYMCA), outlining their ambitious plans for the region’s economy and its skills system. Encouraged by the pragmatic and forward-thinking vision that is presented here, Doncaster Chamber of Commerce has welcomed the arrival of both publications and is optimistic about what they could mean for local businesses going forward.

The Plan For Good Growth and the new Skills Strategy were launched simultaneously on Thursday the 14th of March, with each of them representing a commitment from SYMCA to help our region unlock its full potential. Both documents place an emphasis on innovation and embracing fresh ideas, while also being firmly grounded in reality and attuned to what’s happening on the ground level in places like Doncaster.

The Plan for Good Growth is primarily concerned with how the region will attract further inward investment and create more high-paying jobs in the future. Meanwhile, the Skills Strategy looks at what more can be done to retain talent here in South Yorkshire. More specifically, it sets out three key missions: to help those who are currently unemployed transition more easily into the world of work; to ensure that people are equipped with the core knowledge they need to thrive in today’s labour market; and to generally increase the supply of a high-skilled workforce.

As a voice for local businesses, Doncaster Chamber is heartened by these significant plans. Reacting to the content of the strategic documents, Dan Fell, Chief Exec, said: “It’s great to see such strong, but crucially realistic, ambitions being articulated for our region. We believe that this vision bodes well for South Yorkshire and that it will inject some much-needed positive energy into the discussion about where we are heading next.

The Plan for Good Growth contains a lot of laudable aspirations, including ideas for improving our existing infrastructure as well as for encouraging further innovation and productivity; all of which will be instrumental to our success going forward. Between our Investment Zone status and major assets — like the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre and Gateway East — there is already a lot of great opportunity here for the indigenous SME community and it’s imperative that we do all we can to help them seize it.

“Speaking of which, it feels like partnerships are working far more effectively in South Yorkshire right now than they have done for quite some time, and we are seeing a pleasingly collegiate atmosphere develop. The Plan for Good Growth gives us something new to rally behind so that we can continue in this vein and work towards a shared ambition that will really benefit our communities.

“If national government take note of this plan as well, and fully commit to partnering with the region on it, then they will find that there are several ideas here that will help them deliver upon their flagship levelling up policy. We know that our members feel very passionately about this need for greater collaboration with government— a point reinforced when the Levelling Up Advisory Council recently visited South Yorkshire — and so we hope the ambition of this plan is properly heeded by Whitehall.”

Moving onto the second of yesterday’s landmark documents, Dan continued: “It’s equally promising to see a fully-formed Skills Strategy for the region as a whole, one that embraces many of the recommendations from our own LSIP.

“It’s no secret that employers are facing persistent challenges when it comes to their staff recruitment and retention at the moment. So it’s safe to say that this plan is tackling a very urgent need and we here at the Chamber are committed to playing a hands-on role in bringing it to life.

“It’s critical that we have an agile skills system that truly meets the needs of our businesses, otherwise South Yorkshire will be at risk of getting left behind. Fortunately, I do believe that we are starting from a relatively good position here — on account of the well-regarded education institutions and innovative services that already exist in our region — which means that the strategy has quite strong foundations to build upon.

“Indeed, as well as referencing ongoing initiatives that are already adding great value to the economy, such as the South Yorkshire Apprenticeship Hub and the levy matchmaking service,  it also outlines how things can be taken even further. Namely, it mentions plans to expand Skills Bank — a fantastic but underutilised service that helps finance training costs for organisations — and to create a taskforce that will support young people as they prepare to enter the world of work.

“These interventions will make a huge difference and build on some of the ideas outlined in the Local Skills Improvement Plan recently published by the three South Yorkshire Chambers of Commerce.

“All in all, we are optimistic about these two strategic documents from SYMCA and expect that they will deliver great things for the region.  Of course, this hard work must now move beyond vision and towards implementation. It is action, not just words, that the business community ultimately wants to see.  Nonetheless, today’s strategies were a confident stride in the right direction.”



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