Skills event raises profile of chamber campaign

The This Is the Black Country campaign to highlight the region, its people and its power has staged its first event.

Chamber members who attended Skills for the Region
Chamber members who attended Skills for the Region

The campaign, launched in May by the Black Country Chamber of Commerce, held Skills for the Region at Wolverhampton Racecourse.

Chief executive Corin Crane, who bids farewell to the chamber this week, chaired the morning breakfast panel conversation exploring skills and recruitment issues across the region.

Mr Crane posed questions to representatives from five chamber business partners: Johnathan Dudley from tax and advisory firm Crowe UK; Richard Bourne, Pertemps; Nick Taylor from Dudley-based legal firm Higgs; Adam Flynn from IT and tech experts EBC Group and Paul Sissons from the University of Wolverhampton’s Business School.

The campaign has been launched to champion the region as a dynamic and innovative place to do business, promote the area to attract and retain talent and help ensure the Black Country has the best infrastructure, connectivity and access to green energy for the years ahead. It will run through until spring 2023.

Neil Anderson, head of external affairs at the chamber, said: “As a business community, we power the local economy and there is an onus on us to lead the way, fly the flag for the region and ensure that decision makers understand the importance of working with business to tackle both longstanding inequalities and respond to prevent threats which limit our productivity and growth.

“This is the Black Country, is creating awareness and allows us to debate on issues which matter to business today, including the skills gap, recruiting and retaining talent which was our topic for today’s first event in the initiative.”

Throughout the campaign the chamber will continue its extensive lobbying activities and advocate for the right decisions to be made which positively respond to the needs of businesses, the people and to ensure that the region is on a level playing field when it comes to investment and policy.

Crowe UK’s Johnathan Dudley, head of manufacturing business and Midlands and South West managing partner said: “I’m delighted to be associated with this showcase of the Black Country building on its rich heritage to deliver world beating products services and opportunity in the future.”

Richard Bourne, regional manager for the Pertemps said: "Midlands’ businesses have suffered their fair share of adversity over the years, but one constant has been their ability to roll with the punches to remain at the heart of the UK economy.

"Founded in the Midlands in 1961, Pertemps are proud to have worked with many Midlands-based firms across multiple sectors over the years, helping them grow, prosper and successfully manage whatever challenges come their way.

"Being part of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce helps us continue that, supporting businesses for the benefit of our local communities.”

Nick Taylor, managing partner at Higgs, said, “Tracing its roots in the Black Country back to 1875, Higgs continues to forge long-term relationships with its business partners and is delighted to form part of the team championing the Black Country as a great place to do business.

“We are always looking to have a positive impact upon our community and are excited about what this project can achieve.”

Richard Lane, chief executive and founder of EBC Group, said: “EBC Group have become a partner on the ‘This Is The Black Country’ campaign because it's an excellent way for businesses across the region to work with the chamber to focus on ensuring we are attracting and retaining the right talent to equip us for the future, promoting the region as a great place to do business and raising awareness to overcome any obstacles to success.

“We are focused on providing innovative technology to the Black Country which drives growth for businesses and helps them stay competitive."

Sarah Williams, interim director of the Business School at University of Wolverhampton said: “The University of Wolverhampton Business School is delighted to be supporting the BCCC ‘This is the Black Country’ campaign.

“Our mission is to support and champion business in the region as well as preparing people for work and being part of this important campaign helps us to serve and celebrate the business community in the Black Country.

“The campaign highlights the innovation, entrepreneurship and opportunities created by businesses in the Black Country and allows us to celebrate the fantastic organisations responsible for it.”

Anybody interested in hearing more about This is the Black Country and its developing programme of events and news can visit or sign up to the campaign newsletter.

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