Flintshire County Council's flagship business event, Flintshire Business Week (FBW), now in its 10th year, has been hailed a huge success.
This is the third year that the event is led by the Rt Hon Lord Barry Jones who is President of FBW as well as being President of the Mersey Dee Alliance (MDA). Lord Jones has massive experience of working to help industry in Wales and Deeside.
Highlights to the programme included the Regional Business Exhibition, an Employment and Information event, Regional Jobs and Skills evening; Economy and Ambition seminars and a Tourism Network event â€“ covering all aspects of the vibrant local economy.
Lord Jones opened the exhibition and spoke passionately about the event:
This year, the Exhibition boasted over 60 exhibitors and over 800 delegates visited the stands during the day.
One of the exhibitors back for a third year is Natalie Wood, Managing Director of Letterbox Recruiting, who echoed many of the exhibitiors' thoughts by saying:
“Having offices throughout North Wales, we find events such as this really useful for networking with other companies and making new contacts. Business is definitely booming and we are really keen to do business with other local companies and to keep local talent in the area.”
The following day, hundreds of people attended an Employment and Information Event at Connah's Quay Civic Hall.
Employers from various sectors, including Ralawise, Lend Lease, Kingswood and 2 Sisters Food group, were able to showcase their businesses and job seekers were able find out the route and qualifications required to be successful in these areas. Recruitment agencies including Blue Arrow, Travail and Enbarr Enterprises were also on hand advertising their current and future vacancies.
There were over 300 job vacancies available with applicants taking advantage of the â€˜on the day' support to fill in application forms and a number of interviews were arranged on the day.
Representatives from the Communities First Flintshire Enterprise Club attended to promote entrepreneurial opportunities in Flintshire and the support available for those wanting to start their own business. Careers Wales were on hand to offer tailored support and advice around interview skills and first impressions count.
The event was organised by Communities First Flintshire, Jobcentre Plus and Careers Wales. Communities First Flintshire also showcased their work along with the LIFT programme and Communities for Work, developed to support the long term unemployed back into work.
That evening saw a well-attended event focussing on regional jobs and apprenticeships, with the keynote speaker Iwan Thomas, Regional Programme Manager for the North Wales Economic Ambition Board. He spoke of the Board's “Team North Wales” approach. He also emphasised the importance of their “North Wales Regional Skills and Employment Plan” to the whole of the North Wales region, ahead of its official launch the following morning in Venue Cymru, Llandudno. This report will feed into Welsh Government as they decide the future funding for education in Wales.
Other speakers included Ian Budd, Chief Officer for Education and Youth who spoke about how schools in Flintshire were modernising and working with businesses to best prepare the workforce of the future. Clare Budden, Chief Officer for Community and Enterprise, and Vicky Barwis, Director of Work-Based Learning and Employer Engagement with Coleg Cambria, both spoke about the importance that Flintshire County Council and Coleg Cambria place on apprenticeships and how they are working with local businesses and in partnership to encourage take-up and development of apprenticeships in the local area. The emphasis is to keep local skills in the local area.
Thursday evening saw a variety of presentations on the topic Economy and Ambition.
The first focussed on ambitions for Regional Economic Growth from the Mersey Dee Alliance and Flintshire County Council. The Mersey Dee Alliance is a partnership between Wirral, Flintshire, Wrexham and Cheshire West and Chester councils, Mersey travel with the further education and higher education institutions and private sector. Its key aim is to grow the economy. The presentation included key economic strengths, challenges to growth and how they are being addressed and skills needs.
Flintshire County Council's Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Cllr Derek Butler, who is also Chair of the MDA, said:
“The Mersey Dee Alliance is unique â€“ it's the only cross border alliance and has a vibrant economy across all sectors. We are campaigning for better infrastructure with Rail Track 360 and two growth bids in North Wales and
Cheshire and we are looking towards more connectivity in education and employment opportunities.”
This led onto the second speaker, Paul Hildreth Bartlett from University College London who spoke about cross border economy and the results of his research on the Mersey Dee economy.
Flintshire County Council then spoke about the importance it places on being an enabler of economic growth in a challenging environment for local government
Finally, Steve Hicks from the Bank of England presented the bank's view on the National Economy, including the outlook for UK economic growth, labour market performance and expectations around prices.
Rounding off an exciting week of events was the Tourism Network Event on Friday 30 September at Dangerpoint, Talacre. The event provided the latest tourism sector information as a series of 5 minute presentations from public and private organisations and partnerships, including:
- Clwydian Range & Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
- Flintshire Tourism Association
- North East Wales Ambassador Scheme
- Theatr Clwyd
- Superfast Broadband Cymru
The event culminated in a workshop looking at the impact of social media on tourism, brand engagement and user-generated content.
Flintshire County Council Leader, Councillor Aaron Shotton, said:
“Flintshire Business Week has once again brought hundreds of businesses together with the unique and successful partnership between the public and private sector. We've had some fantastic events and seminars. On behalf of the Council, I want to sincerely thank all of our sponsors and partners who work so hard with the Council's business team to make this event possible.'