Economy & Skills Officer
Angela has stopped her weekly postings, but you can still read her stories here ...
Angela joined the Place & Economy Team in August 2017 in the newly formed post of Economy & Skills Officer.
With a background in Business and Skills, previous roles include working for Business Link and Northbrook College. An advocate for Partnership work and Stakeholder engagement, Angela is ideally placed to assist in the delivery of the Council's Economic Strategy. Angela is a qualified Careers Advisor and will complete her MSc Psychology in September 2018.
Living in central Worthing, Angela loves the ever changing buzz of the town. She and her two pet beagles can often be seen walking within the Splashpoint area (and occasionally her partner Ben will join them, if he has to ...)
You can read Angela's archived 2018 blog posts on this page below
Last week saw the second of our grants panel meeting, held at Sussex Transport, courtesy of Damian Pulford - MD. Its always a great session with much debate on applications.
As the grant is funded via public funds, its important we ensure applications meet the eligibility criteria.
17 applications were reviewed during this panel which took approximately 2 hours - that's an average of 14 minutes per application - an appropriate time to thoroughly vet and check projects.
When reviewing applications, the panel considers all the information contained therein. And its interesting to see what people do and don't put in!
Whilst there is much theory one can read on running a business, success is a result of many factors - luck being one of them. It can be hard to read an application from a business, seeking money, which the panel feels is likely to fail. But this is also the excitement of the grant funding; to see the difference it makes! Last year, we provided money for a business undertaking corporate video. The figures didn't stack up, but the application was eligible. But to our delight the business is really beginning to find its feet with some great involvement in the business community.
Its also interesting to see hidden pockets of the local economy - businesses which run from home but are doing pretty well!
This year, we've also received repeat applications and again its great to read how the business has progressed from last year.
One of the nice things about the grant is how it opens doors to a healthy chat about the business. I've already flyered Shoreham High Street and I can't wait to get out and about to other independent businesses across the area.
So you never know, you might see me walking the area, flyer in hand and if so, do come and say hello.
Photo: Small Business Grant Flyer
As the title highlights, many people use the word 'just' when responding to what they do for a living.
I've always corrected this response as I don't believe any job deserves such triviality. I think many people aren't aware of the vast skill sets they acquire from their job roles, or what it means to work.
Last week, I attended Durrington High Schools' Careers & Aspirations day, along with 40 other representatives from local employers (see photo below). The main aim of the day was to inspire, inform and encourage young people with regards to their work future.
The organisation required was clearly time consuming for the school, but Karen Jefford, Community & Enterprise Manager, and her team, did an amazing job! As interactions with employers are now an Ofsted requirement, these types of initiatives will become common place across our area. And I urge as many of you as possible to help out.
My role for the day; being asked questions by Year 10s to try and guess my job role. By the end of the day, it was clear Councils have a bit of work to do to communicate their role and purpose.
I too thought I had a pretty good grasp of jobs available across the area, but was surprised by some of the roles available. One lady stood up and introduced herself - she worked for HMRC making famous people bankrupt!
Its very hard for a young person to decide on a career when they have no knowledge of the working world. They might like the idea 'of helping people' - which can apply to a number of rewarding careers. But equally they might really dislike being shouted at and physically assaulted - which might also rule out a number of rewarding careers (I'm thinking front line NHS staff, policeman, etc ...)
And let's not forget the culture and place of work. They might like 'working as part of a team' but not enjoy 'working in an open plan office'. They might be good at 'problem solving' but not 'constructive feedback' when they get it wrong.
And don't get me started about the role the media play in shaping young people's views on careers! The more accurate, unbiased and positive information we can dish out to young people, the more we help them make the right decisions to lead them to fulfilling careers.
This needs to be sooner rather than later - because our young people will need to start working as soon as they can, at increasing salary rates, in order to own their own property.
So next time you are asked what you do for a living, think about your journey. How has it shaped your ability to pay your mortgage?
Until next time everyone ...
With coats on the radiator and brollies drying off, you could be forgiven for thinking its November! As we start another week, I thought I would pose some questions to you about customer service and technology and what it means to you.
Why? Well, this weekend has seen a house move. Which meant renting a van.
Now, house moves are stressful anyway, so parting with £100 for rental and having a pre-authorisation for £350 is sure to make things worse right? Except it didn't. Let me tell you why this experience was so good.
Firstly, there was the big sign on the front of the very clear entrance door “We are out the back - go round”. Great - I like clear instructions.
“that was a good guess” I said. “this is your van - come into the office and we can do the paperwork”.
A nice, informal welcome. And he guessed my name. Standard so far - but I'm impressed.
However what made this experience different for me, was the next part.
As we worked our way through the paperwork, which was all undertaken by fancy technology, my lovely van rental friend, explained what each part of the technology was and why he was doing it. Now, some people might find this irritating - and I agree it takes a savvy person to read body language on this - but I felt this added to my experience. For example, he explained the legislation related to van rental and why I had to sign various documents. He explained the implications for me and why it was necessary. Without an explanation, it can sometimes feel like a process for the sake of a process.
I ask you lovely readers to now think about the above, in comparison, to the new technology in many of our national chains.
How do you feel about placing your own order? Is someone there to help all the time? How did you feel the first time you used the technology, was it straightforward? Did you know it doesn't take cash, only card payments?
And the essential question in today's blog is how would you evidence that people were happy using the technology? How would you know if you were giving good customer service if you were not present?
I think the jury is out on this. But for everyone still feeling soggy today, a smile and a good chat go a long way with your customers. That's something technology can't do as effectively as humans.
Bye for now!
Photo: Highlighting the importance of customer service
Whilst the weather is hotting up, I spent most of last week sweating over our local STEM agenda.
Do you know what STEM is? Very briefly, it is a UK wide, education curriculum that focuses heavily on the subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, with the aim to inspire young people to take up careers in these subjects. Why? Because across the UK, there are gaps in job roles and sectors that require STEM skills in order to survive, innovate and grow. In a nutshell - in one way or another - it is the lifeblood of our economy. And don’t forget the ‘A’ in the expanded STEM acronym – STEAM. This is because ‘art’ is the creative side of STEM and takes many projects from concept to delivery.
What surprised me most this week related to young people’s aspirations. It would appear more want to be a celebrity than a scientist. In fact they would rather do most things than be a scientist. This surprised me because there is big money in science and some great job roles available. So why might this be?
As I sat round the table at a number of meetings, debating reasons and formulating action plans, some very interesting comments came out.
Firstly, not enough is being done to inspire primary age children. By the age of secondary school, images and understanding of job roles are beginning to form and the UK needs to expand this learning at an early age.
Secondly – with a key target to recruit more teachers, we risk recruiting teachers that have not worked in industry long enough to effectively impart knowledge on ‘working life’. This is further compounded when these teachers, mentor new teachers.
Lastly - and this where business needs to play its part – business needs to bring job roles, projects and sectors to life by inspiring the next generation with tales of innovation, success, excitement and satisfaction based on live organisations, companies and the projects they run and people they work with.
So, if you are reading this, what can you do? These are my top tips:
- If you are a business – ask your staff or boss to take 2 hours off in the year to volunteer at your local school talking about what you do and the projects you work on
- If you are a parent – see what’s happening locally on the STEM agenda – there are loads of activities you and your children can take part in
- Help to ensure young people have an understanding of the world of work – open up your business for a couple of hours or take your child on a work place visit
Until next time…
Photo: STEM skills being discussed in Ricardo's Centenary Innovation Centre
Afternoon All, my apologies for the late submission of my blog. This morning has been an extended meeting with Planning Policy and Planning Development. I'm sure at some point a team member from these departments will also run a blog and I encourage a read if they do!
So, my top priority for the week is to release the Small Business Growth Grant and Apprenticeship Grant. I know our local business community is chomping at the bit to submit applications and I'm really looking forward to reading the various projects.
The grants scheme was first run last year from March to September and was a huge boost for small local businesses. One of the things I like most about the grant is its flexibility. This year is no different. Businesses can apply the funding to a wide range of projects including;
- Taking on an apprentice
- Purchase of equipment
- Designing a company website
- Improvements to commercial premises
- Business training and development
So who approves these projects and ensures the funding is put to good use? Well, say hello to the Grants Approval Panel. The panel consists of three local business professionals and myself.
Once applications are received, they undergo initial screening to make sure the applicant meets the minimum eligibility criteria - we don't want someone outside our area to be taking our money!
Then out come the big guns! This year the panel have waived their right to anonymity and I can formally introduce them. They are:
- Jo-Anne Haulkham: Partner at Kreston Reeves LLP
Superskill: Investigative Accounting
- Damian Pulford: Director of Sussex Transport
Superskill: Business Planning
- Julian Cioffi: Partner at Fitzhugh Gates Solicitors
Superskill: Business Verification
I've made them sound very official haven't I? And to some extent that is my intention. Adur & Worthing are incredibly lucky to have such skilled individuals on the panel. Not only do they help to ensure all grant funding goes to appropriate projects, they offer real practical feedback to anyone going through the grant process.
So, I'm going to sign off now, to finalise the grants and get them launched! I know you are all waiting ...
Firstly, Happy Easter to you all! The next two weeks is a key time for the high street, hospitality and leisure industry as people look to spend their Easter money and keep the kids entertained.
Unfortunately, for most, the two go hand in hand!
In my last blog I talked about the revamped Adur & Worthing Business Partnership - Business Portal. I hope you got a chance to look at it and subscribe. For those of you that aren't aware of the Business Partnership, I hope you also managed to take a look at the 'About' page on the AWBP website. The Business Partnership is attended and run by local business people, Councillors, stakeholders and partners.
If you are running a project which fits with the six core objectives of the Business Partnership, you might be able to apply for funding or other forms of assistance. Here is the link again to the AWBP website and remember to subscribe in order to receive monthly updates, including funding opportunities.
Talking of funding opportunities, I know many of you are waiting on the release of the Small Business Growth Grant and Apprenticeship grant.
As grants go, these really are fantastic!! Not many people realise the processes and audits that sit behind this type of funding (public funds) and, as administrator of the grants, I spent some time with our Legal department learning about this too.
Firstly, despite 99% of the requested information being business related and commercially sensitive (and therefore less applicable to the new GDPR legislation) two points on the grant application relate to personal information. This automatically means the Council have to include statements on how we will treat and dispose of personal data.
Secondly, a Freedom of Information (FOI) request could see all grant applications being open to scrutiny. This opened up an interesting debate amongst myself and my colleagues, as much of the application asks businesses to disclose commercially sensitive material. It certainly wouldn't be our desire to disclose this, and whilst unlikely, we still have to be mindful of all potential situations.
Finally, as the money is classed as public funds, it is possible it could be subject to audit.
So, by the end of my session with the Council's spot-on legal department, I learnt the devil really is in the detail. Hopefully this will allow you lovely readers to spread the word and get thinking on your business projects.
... Alternatively, you might be auditing your own money after a long and tiring Easter break!
“Out with the old and in with the new” is a typical springtime phrase - but I mean that in the nicest way saying farewell to Fiona Burn (my Manager, so I have to be nice!) whom steps down from her Blog duties this week. A great insight into her work I'm sure you'll agree and a demanding role too - one which only someone with genuine enthusiasm can achieve. Well done FB - but don't stop typing, I've seen your 'to do' list ...
Which leaves me as the newbie in all this. So, if you've read my Bio above (note I like dogs), my role is aimed at creating opportunities which will ultimately help our economy.
Nothing is simple when dealing with an 'economy'.
Areas in which you might want to make an improvement (ie build commercial units, which Adur and Worthing are in dire short supply) usually have a knock-on effect - for example reducing potential house-building space.
And if you do decide to build commercial units - what type of businesses can successfully access the new stock?? Large firms with their articulated lorries and requiring considerable staff car parking? Or small firms that might not bank roll the area like a large company, but are the life blood of our small business economy?
Since joining the Council, I've started to become involved in much more of the infrastructure surrounding these types of Council decisions. And its important the local business community have a voice on how decisions affect them - and not necessarily from just a business perspective. Most of our business community are also residents in the area.
I'm pleased to report most of the business community I work with are fully aware of their responsibility towards the community and make decisions using both their business head as well as a resident's perspective.
Which leads me nicely onto this week's top task I've been working on. I'm pleased to showcase and finally launch the new Adur & Worthing Business Partnership - Business Portal! The aim of the portal is to improve communication between the business community, partners and stakeholders as well as highlight innovation and talent across the area. Apart from wrenching at the leash to look at the new portal (Wait ... Sit! Staaaaay!) I should probably tell you about the Adur & Worthing Business Partnership!
Well, I think that can wait for my next blog but as you've been good, here is the link ...
You can also read Fiona's archived blogs here ...
Bye for now, Angela
Photo: The new AWBP website homepage
Photo: The launch event of the new AWBP website
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