Giving people the best chance in life by increasing their skills was one of the main focuses of today’s highly successful Essex Means Business Showcase, held at the world class Ford Technical Centre in Basildon.
The Essex Means Business showcase brought together businesses of all sizes, entrepreneurs, councils and education/skills providers.
The event was led by Cllr Kevin Bentley, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Economic Growth and Infrastructure.
He said: “Essex is a great county for business. As David Cameron said, where Essex leads everyone follows. One of our strengths is the way business works with councils and education to focus on economic growth.
“Essex Means Business is not a County Council title, it belongs to everyone."
Keynote speaker was Richard Daniel, Chief Executive Officer of Raytheon UK, which is based in Harlow.
He said: “To be able to move forward, we need a workforce that allows us to grow. One thing I’m most concerned about is creating that workforce, given the shortage of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) students, especially women.”
He added: “We need to get our arms around the skills piece. Business, councils and academia need to come together.”
Mr Daniel outlined some of the initiatives that Raytheon is involved in, in partnership with other organisations in Essex, to provide the workforce of the future with the necessary skills for engineering and advanced manufacturing.
These include investing in apprenticeships, going into schools with weekly STEM clubs, running initiatives such as the Quadcopter Challenge where teams of school pupils build mini quadcopters and working with university technical colleges such as Harlow University Technical College.
“Raytheon is growing its indigenous capability," said Mr Daniel.
"We’re focused on growth through collaboration. This creates the right environment for the UK and Essex to prosper. Essex is a great place for us to operate from.”
Other speakers at the event were Mark Harvey, Site Manager at Ford’s Dunton Technical Centre, Suzanne Howlett, winner of the Essex Entrepreneur Poll 2014, Dr John Keddie, Chairman of Harlow Enterprise Zone, and Oliver Lincoln, Managing Director of Vestguard UK and winner of the IOD Young Director of the Year in the Eastern Region.
A Q&A panel taking questions from the floor consisted of David Adlington, Head of Enterprise, Peter Manning, Head of Essex International, David Rooke, Inward Investment Manager (all Essex County Council) and Richard Brenkley, Managing Director of Better Agency, based in Chelmsford.
The event was part of the Essex Means Business campaign, which showcases innovation, skills and enterprise in Essex. Follow the campaign on Twitter using the hashtag #EssexMeansBusiness.
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