Welcome from Mark Ryder, strategic director for communities

Hello and welcome to the February edition of Warwickshire Means Business.

There is lots of excellent news to celebrate this month, including plenty 'hot off the press.'

Over the last five years, our Skills for Employment programme has been a great success, delivering many projects and initiatives to build bridges between employers and education-providers. That support will now go from strength to strength after the council this week agreed to back Skills for Employment with £250,000 per year from now on.

Other recent news brought very encouraging tourism figures for the county. The tourism sector is a huge driver of Warwickshire's economy, generating an estimated £1.27 billion in 2018. The appeal of our lovely county to visitors from across the UK and the world is as strong as ever - and that leaves us very well-placed to capitalise upon VisitBritain's prediction that 2020 will be a record year for spending by overseas visitors to the UK.

The outlook for our buoyant tech sector is equally positive with predictions that more than 500 jobs will be created in Leamington Spa's Games Hub in the next two years. That news comes off the back of another highly successful Interactive Futures festival in the town.

Meanwhile, the strength of the region's economy was underlined by recent figures from the European Cities of the Future 2020/21. They revealed that Coventry and Warwickshire remains a leading location for Foreign Direct Investment with more than 2,500 new jobs secured in the region in the 12 months to March 2019.

In this edition of WMB we also shine the spotlight on Coventry & Warwickshire CDA, an organisation we are proud to support and which has been giving much-valued but often unsung help to our communities for almost 40 years.

We also feature another exciting new programme of our own - My World of Work 2020 which brings together Year 10 pupils across the county with up to 100 employers across Warwickshire.  Please do get involved with that, if you are not already.

Please enjoy all this and much more in this month's Warwickshire Means Business.

Featured News

Skills for Employment funding follows launch of council's Careers Strategy 2020-2025

The councillors' approval this week of an annual injection of £250,000 into Skills for Employment underlines the county council's commitment to giving the people of Warwickshire, of all ages and backgrounds, the best possible career opportunities while providing employers with a conveyor-belt of talent.

Warwickshire County Council this week backed up its new Careers Strategy with further funding with the approval of an annual £250,000 for the Skills for Employment programme.

The funding will enable the programme to build upon its track record of excellent success since its inception five years ago.

It has already awarded £3,000 annual grants totalling more than £500,000 to schools and colleges and more than £1 million to large, innovative projects where business and education have collaborated to achieve a major change.

Most recently, as Skills for Employment continues to goes from strength to strength, £40,000 has been invested in a new My World of Work programme, launched in January. This will provide hundreds of Year 10 pupils from schools across the county with opportunities to work with businesses from several sectors to discover what it’s like to work in a wide range of roles.

The councillors' approval this week of an annual injection of £250,000 into Skills for Employment underlines the county council's commitment to giving the people of Warwickshire, of all ages and backgrounds, the best possible career opportunities while providing employers with a conveyor-belt of talent.

That commitment is enshrined in the recently published Warwickshire County Council's Careers Strategy 2020-2025.

Following the publication of the National Careers Strategy in 2017, it was felt that a more localised and bespoke strategy for Warwickshire was needed to build on the county's already strong economy and high employment-levels.

The strategy, developed with advice from a range of partners and stakeholders from business and education, is comprehensive. It sets out the council's plans to support young people, adults and more vulnerable residents such as those with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities who wish to move into employment.

It is also designed to be flexible and forward-looking, promoting the skills that will power the economy into the future at a time when workplaces are changing as rapidly as the technology which drives it evolves.

Warwickshire County Council Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Education & Learning Cllr Colin Hayfield said: "Businesses often talk to us about skills shortages, the difficulties they face in finding and employing people with the right skill-sets and the negative impact this has on the growth of their business.

"Effective careers and employability advice are critical components of a successful local labour market. The Warwickshire Careers Strategy sets out our ambitions to work with our partners to develop and deliver coherent, effective and locally relevant careers and employability advice and support."

To see the Warwickshire Careers Strategy in full, please click here.

My World of Work 2020 hits the ground running

"My World of Work 2020 will help to ensure that our young people are ready to step into the workplace and play their part in driving the county's economy forward."

An exciting new initiative has been launched to bring young people, education and businesses together to explore the world of work.

Warwickshire County Council’s My World of Work 2020 programme will give Year 10 pupils the opportunity to engage with up to 100 employers across Warwickshire.

The programme aims to help young people build an understanding of the different sectors, career pathways and progression routes which will support them in building their future career.

It will offer an opportunity for pupils who are moving towards GCSE year to participate in activities that offer personal development in the classroom. Individuals will be supported to identify their own personal attributes, build confidence, prepare job applications, develop CVs and sit mock interviews.

Warwickshire businesses will play an important part in the programme and 100 companies, spanning ten sectors, are set to come on board. Employers are being invited to join the programme and showcase the careers they have to offer whilst also demonstrating the employability skills they look for when offering young people job opportunities.

Employers can support in many different ways, from industry talks to hosting interactive sessions at their own site.

The programme’s first event took place during National Apprenticeship Week at North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College when 200 15-year-olds from a number of schools networked with employers.

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Leader of Warwickshire County Council and portfolio holder for economic development said: "When speaking to local businesses we learnt that one of the main obstacles to future growth was a skills shortage.

"The Skills for Employment programme has helped to give 30,000 young people access to valuable work experience. My World of Work 2020 is taking this to the next level where we target business sectors and encourage young people of all abilities, backgrounds and interests to be inspired and give them a focus for a future career. The availability of a skilled workforce is key to the county's growth in future years.

"My World of Work 2020 will help to ensure that our young people are ready to step into the workplace and play their part in driving the county's economy forward."

Workshops for year 10s cover a range of employability skills, including how to speak to businesses, how to prepare a CV and key questions to ask. Pupils attending the launch event will already have completed a workshop to ensure they are fully prepared to make the most of it.

Fay Winterburn, the County Council's business skills lead, added: “It is a great way for employers to be able to engage with young people and this event will be the first of many, with employers hosting events too. We hope it will provide a really positive outcome for young people as to what the world of work looks like.”

Fay said that the aim is for 10 employers from 10 different sectors to come on board - 100 in total.

She said: “One hundred employers, large and small, across Warwickshire will be part of this. We recognise the importance of large employers on our patch and the great opportunities which sit behind the big names, but we also feel it it is really important for small businesses, who actually make up over 80% of our economy, to also have the opportunity and support to showcase the future careers they have to offer and the important part they play in wider supply chains and the Warwickshire economy."

Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce is a partner and sponsoring the business and finance sector. The chamber is also assisting with the production of marketing materials and the programme’s website.

The chamber’s involvement is part of a national British Chambers of Commerce initiative - Business Showcase Days - which aims to demonstrate how chambers of commerce across the country are linking local businesses to their communities: Fay said the chamber’s support was a huge boost and that it is hoped the programme, which is starting this year, will become a permanent one.

Buoyant Warwickshire tourist sector set to hit record levels in 2020

"The sustained popularity of our county has a lot to do with the enterprise and hard work of our businesses and communities and the warm welcome they offer to visitors, providing a tourist experience which means that many visitors end their stay in the county intending to come back."

The latest tourism economic impact figures for Warwickshire show the county is strongly-placed to capitalise on a predicted record year for inbound tourism to the UK in 2020.

Forecasts from VisitBritain, the national tourism agency, indicate that 2020 will be a record year for the UK with spending by overseas visitors predicted to reach a record £26.6 billion, up by 6.6% on 2019.

The number of overseas visits to the UK is forecast to rise to 39.7 million, the highest ever and an increase of 2.9% on 2019.

The figures are highly encouraging after all the uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the very positive national outlook is matched locally in Warwickshire. The latest figures for the county reflect the buoyant national forecasts for sustained growth in the year ahead.

Each year Warwickshire County Council commissions an independent Tourism Economic Impact Assessment to measure the sector’s contribution to the county’s economy. The most recent report (2018) shows new record levels of jobs and income generated by the industry.

In 2018, tourism was worth an estimated £1.272 billion to the Warwickshire economy and accounted for some 23,000 jobs - a 13% increase on the previous year. Almost 17 million trips to the county were recorded. Most of these were day visits but the number of visitors staying overnight was boosted by 10% year on year, reaching 4.7 million bed nights for the first time.

Alex Holmes, Warwickshire County Council’s Visitor Economy Manager, believes the findings are hugely encouraging - and underline the enduring global appeal of the county's rich, historic and diverse tourist sector.

“We are delighted that tourism in Warwickshire continues to prosper and, despite the recent uncertainties about Brexit, shows every sign of achieving new records in the coming years," he said. "National indicators are bullish for the year ahead.

"In Warwickshire we are fortunate to have so many fantastic tourist attractions and the lure of the likes of Shakespeare and our many castles and stately homes remain a huge draw.

"But, beyond that, the sustained popularity of our county has a lot to do with the enterprise and hard work of our businesses and communities and the warm welcome they offer to visitors, providing a tourist experience which means that many visitors end their stay in the county intending to come back."

Coventry & Warwckshire leading the way in foreign direct investment

"We are at the forefront of future industries so foreign investors are confident in the region’s ability to respond quickly to changes in the markets.”

Nearly 15,000 jobs have been created in Coventry and Warwickshire over the last five years through investment projects – putting the region at the top of the charts for foreign direct investment.

The figures from the European Cities of the Future 2020/21 reveal Coventry and Warwickshire continues to be a leading location for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), with more than 2,500 new jobs secured in the region in the 12 months to March 2019 while 14,554 jobs have been created from 216 investment projects over the last five years.

Coventry and Warwickshire achieved nearly 50 successful projects during the 12-month period to March 2019, with major investors including Comau, Jaguar Land Rover, Martin Brower, Hyundai Engineering, Kuehne and Nagel and Microsoft Xbox.

The report also highlighted the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) was first of the 38 LEPs in England for its FDI strategy, the third placed LEP for business friendliness and fourth for economic potential.

The success will be marked at a presentation at MIPIM – the world’s biggest property development and investment show – in March.

The Coventry and Warwickshire MIPIM Partnership, made up of companies and organisations who represent the area, attends the event which attracts 30,000 delegates.

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, leader of Warwickshire County Council, said: “The increase in foreign investment has not happened by accident. And even better news is that much of the work that has been going on is going to benefit the region in future years as well as now.

“We actively promote key sectors and Warwickshire is home to Silicon Spa, the hub of creative industries, which employs over 2,500 people with that number expected to grow.

“The region is also home to some of the most innovative vehicle design, specifically electronic vehicles, battery and energy storage and Connected Autonomous Vehicle technologies. We are at the forefront of future industries so foreign investors are confident in the region’s ability to respond quickly to changes in the markets.”

Jonathan Browning, chair of the CWLEP, said it was great to see Coventry and Warwickshire remained a leading Midlands and UK destination for inward investment.

He said: “It is vital to attract inward investment for the future of Coventry and Warwickshire’s economy and we have much to continue to build on.

“Coventry and Warwickshire is a key UK centre of vehicle design, testing and engineering, and we are especially strong in electric vehicles, battery and energy storage and Connected Autonomous Vehicle technologies.

“Later this year, the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre will open which will build on the existing R&D and technology site pipeline of over £1 billion that we have in the area.

“Partnership working is key to the success of our FDI strategy and we have strong links with the Department for International Trade, Midlands Engine, the West Midlands Combined Authority, industry and two leading research universities at Coventry University and the University of Warwick."

Young people in Nuneaton see how Careers Strategy is working for them

" Our Careers Strategy focuses not only on supporting our young people as they prepare for employment, but it also recognises that we have an adult population who may want to re-enter the workplace, change careers, or progress at work during their working life."

Young people from Nuneaton, not currently in education, employment or training (NEET), recently saw how Warwickshire County Council’s new Careers Strategy could help them enter the world of work.

At an event designed to demonstrate the council’s Careers Strategy in action, young people found out how the ‘Let’s Make’ space at Nuneaton Library can help them find the right jobs and training opportunities.

The young people who attend the PET-Xi Skills Hub in Nuneaton, were shown around the Let’s Make range of inspiring activities which include: robotics, coding and programming, 3D design and printing, animation and film making, sewing, embroidery and crafting, together with music creation and soundscapes. They tried their hands at virtual and augmented reality and created fabulous photos using green screen technology.

The County Council’s Careers Strategy reflects the council’s commitment to ensuring that all residents, whatever their age, or abilities, are supported in fulfilling their potential. Libraries can play a key role in this, helping people find the right support, training and opportunities in their search for employment.

Vicky, aged 25 from Nuneaton, said: “I’ve not been here before, but I really like it. It allows you to dip your toe in the water and try out new things such as the green screen technology, 3D printing and virtual reality, without buying the kit yourself! It gives you inspiration of what can be achieved. I’ll definitely come back!”

Cllr Colin Hayfield, Warwickshire's County Council's Portfolio Holder for Education and Learning said: “It’s been wonderful to meet some of our young people and see how the Let’s Make space at Nuneaton Library can have such a positive impact. All libraries can offer vital support and can signpost people looking for job opportunities.

“But the Let’s Make services and resources based in three Warwickshire libraries add an extra dimension. They offer access to the latest digital technologies and equipment allowing people to develop their knowledge and expertise and make things in different ways, offering new digital learning opportunities.

“We are committed to ensuring that all our young people have access to the information and training opportunities they need to flourish. Our Careers Strategy focuses not only on supporting our young people as they prepare for employment, but it also recognises that we have an adult population who may want to re-enter the workplace, change careers, or progress at work during their working life.

"We are placing a significant focus on supporting our more vulnerable residents, such as those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) to move into employment. We also give special consideration to residents with mental health needs and the resources available to support them in the workplace.”

One of the Careers Strategy’s key benefits is providing a wide range of supporting information and advice in one place. New web pages on the County Council’s website contain all the information needed for anyone wishing to find out how they can progress. Whether they are a young person; a parent; an adult looking to retrain; a care leaver; or a business planning to recruit or develop its existing workforce – they will be directed to the relevant information and support available.

This includes information about Prospects who can provide careers advice and guidance to young people aged 16-18 and not in employment, education or training. Prospects can also help young people find training and support to find a job or get back into education.

For more information about the new Careers Strategy please visit the new web pages: https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/careerssupport

For more information about Let’s Make please visit: www.warwickshire.gov.uk/letsmake

Games Hub will create 500 new jobs in the next two years

"It is wonderful to see the Games Hub going from strength to strength to the benefit of not only its own sector but the wider local economy."

The vibrant Leamington Spa Games Hub in Warwickshire is set to create 500 new game development jobs over the next two years, opening up huge opportunities for young people and graduates in the Midlands region and beyond.

Research carried out amongst local video games companies within the Leamington Spa area was conducted as the town hosted the second Interactive Futures conference & expo – a celebration of the talent and culture within the area.

The figures regarding the significant job opportunities within the area arrived on the back of further excellent news for Warwickshire - the publication of video games industry trade body Ukie’s Regional Impact Report (https://ukie.org.uk/regional-economic-report) which revealed Leamington Spa as one of the largest games hubs within the UK games ecosystem.

The highly-anticipated report took a look at where the UK games industry clusters are centred, highlighting the growth of individual regions, the jobs that have been created and the impact those areas have had on the country’s games output.

It lists eight towns and cities in the UK where the games industry generates over £60m in GVA – they are Leamington Spa, Edinburgh, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Crawley & Horsham, Manchester, Guildford, Slough & Heathrow and London.

Leamington Spa’s status on the national and international game development scene was celebrated at the Interactive Futures conference on January 31 and February 1 with locally-based studios SEGA HARDlight, NaturalMotion, Playground Games, Sumo Digital and Mediatonic among the exhibitors at the Royal Spa Centre in Newbold Terrace.

The organisers of Interactive Futures conducted a poll of the leading local games development studios to help understand the careers and employment opportunities that will emerge over the next two years.

In terms of jobs types, the top five roles being sought are: Artists, designers, producers, programmers, engineers. But the range of careers on offer extends beyond technical and creative disciplines and into worlds of marketing, HR, administration, community support and more.

Warwickshre County Council's assistant drector (communities) Dave Ayton-Hill said: "It is nothing new that the Leamington Spa Games Hub is such an exceptional and widely-renowned centre of excellence - it has been for some years. But it is wonderful to see the Games Hub going from strength to strength to the benefit of not only its own sector but the wider local economy.

"This region is fortunate to have centres of excellence across a number of sectors and 'Silicon Spa' continues to lead the way in theirs wth the knock-on positive effect to the town, district and region." 

Sarah Windrum, chair of the CWLEP Digital Creative Business Group, said: “Leamington Spa is representative of the ‘roots’ of the UK video games community, an industry that contributes around £2.8 billion in GVA to the UK economy. The region boasts some of the ‘godfathers’ of the global games sector and it is testament to the talent and creativity of the area that we are continuing to attract businesses to the region –all keen to benefit from the buzz that Leamington Spa’s games circle has to offer.

“It’s rare to hear of such a flurry of new job opportunities in one place, so the news that here in Leamington Spa we’ll have up to 500 new vacancies is great for the region and the local community.”

Top names in Games share their expertise at Festival

"I attended with my 16-year-old brother who really wants a career in gaming and wow! You would be hard pushed to find a nicer, more welcoming industry of people who love what they do and want to inspire the next generation."

Hundreds of students, children and parents rubbed shoulders with leading names in the video games industry at the Interactive Futures festival at the Royal Spa Centre.

A celebration of the wealth of talent within the Leamington Spa Games Hub, the festival was a roaring success as visitors learned what the region has to offer in terms of both careers to local people and to the wider games industry.

On the first day of the event, games industry professionals attended to network, connect and learn about the rich seam of games development talent in the region. Leading names in games development present included Playground Games, Sumo Digital, SEGAHardlight, NaturalMotion, Codemasters, Electric Square, Ubisoft, Rebellion and Kwalee.

Mediatonic, one of the UK’s leading development companies, with offices in London, Brighton and Madrid, used Interactive Futures to announce that it will be opening a Leamington Spa studio, creating over 60 jobs by 2022 in the area.

A conference programme through the day saw Dr Jo Twist, CEO of games industry trade body Ukie, discuss the findings of its Regional Impact Report, which showed Leamington Spa as the biggest games hub in the UK outside London and Slough. Games industry legends John and Brenda Romero – founders of the BAFTA Award-winning studio Romero Games – provided a keynote talk, whilst other key themes covered included: What next for the games industry after Brexit?; Diversity and Inclusion in video games; and Investment options for independent studios.

On the festival's second day, careers and young people were the key focus. Packed conference sessions saw students, parents and their children discover: Beyond Coding: Why there’s a career in games for everyone; What skills and qualifications are required for a career in games?; and How young developers made it in the industry.

Alongside the conference, attendees were able to talk to the local games studios about their career choices in the Interactive Futures Expo area, whilst taking part in workshops and other video games activities.

Feedback was incredibly positive, with one delegate stating: “I attended with my 16-year-old brother who really wants a career in gaming and wow! You would be hard pushed to find a nicer, more welcoming industry of people who love what they do and want to inspire the next generation. The speakers were fantastic too. We all left inspired by a very talented and friendly bunch of people.”

Interactive Futures was funded by Warwickshire County Council, Warwick District Council and the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership with the support of local industry.

Sarah Windrum, chair of the CWLEP Digital Creative Business Group, said it was a brilliant event which covered the many different areas of the gaming industry.The games industry throughout the Leamington Spa region continues to thrive and events such as this are a practical way of showcasing the varied careers which are available to young people as well as highlighting the great work that is going on in this part of Warwickshire.

“The two days were jam-packed with activities and it was heartening to see so many students and their parents talking to representatives from the games development studios and looking so enthused.”

Buoyant Rugby businesses bucking the trend

"Across a number of key indicators, it is a very positive, bright picture for Rugby and the surrounding borough" - Sunny Parekh

Rugby’s economy is growing much faster than the national average, a key business meeting has been told.

The Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce’s Rugby branch met at the Draycote Hotel and as well as being an opportunity for local companies to raise concerns, it also heard from Sunny Parekh, senior economist at Warwickshire County Council.

Sunny told the meeting that Rugby was the third largest economy in Warwickshire and that it contributed 16 per cent of economic activity to the county as a whole.

Businesses heard how the borough’s economy had grown by 30 per cent since 2009, which was faster than the national average, and how its performance across measures such as business start-ups and employment were ‘bucking the trend’.

Sunny said: “Across a number of key indicators, it is a very positive, bright picture for Rugby and the surrounding borough. In many areas, Rugby’s growth is bucking the national trend. On a county-wide basis, it makes up 44 per cent of the total of Warwickshire’s transport and logistics sector but it is also seeing strong growth in other sectors too, such as manufacturing and engineering.”

Also at the meeting was Mark Pawsey MP who said the statistics on Rugby’s economy were very positive.

“It is great to hear that the Borough is performing so strongly on a range of measures but it comes as no surprise to me when you consider what a great place this is to do business. As well as the positives, it was good to hear from businesses and from the Chamber around some of the areas where companies believe the Government can do more to unlock growth potential.

“I will be feeding some of that back and, also, look forward to the Chancellor’s first Budget in March.”

Peter Burns, a past president of the Chamber, chaired the meeting and said there are exciting times ahead for Rugby.

He said: “There is a very positive outlook for Rugby and that was reflected at the branch meeting. The Chamber will always speak up on behalf of companies across the area and it’s great to be able to have our voice heard by our MPs and the local authorities.”

Small retailers getting together to boost their collectve profile

“Being an independent retailer means it can be hard sometimes to get out and network with your peers, so it was great to bring everyone together and they really started to bounce ideas off each other both in terms of social media and general marketing tips."

Independent retailers across Warwickshire are joining forces to support each other’s attempts to attract more customers.

On behalf of Warwickshire County Council, the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce has started delivering free digital support to help independent retailers across the county increase trade, as part of the Warwickshire Towns Network Programme.

Business owners across the whole of Warwickshire are being given advice on how to use social media, how to enhance in-store shopping experiences to counter the functionality of online retail, and how to build better digital networks in their local area.

Local company, Stories Marketing – which has a background in retail and expertise in social media – started delivering the series of free workshops in January in Rugby, Nuneaton, Leamington and Stratford.

And, on the back of the first workshops, several retailers across the county have already formed an online group to offer each other tips and support on how to grow.

Sam Yair, of Stories Marketing, encouraged local retailers to find out more about the remaining workshops to be held in February and March.

She said: “The first workshops were a great success. We had a good variety of retailers – some of which had a working knowledge of social media but wanted tips on how to improve, while others had never really dipped their toe into the water.

“Everyone has taken something away that they can implement in their own business to drive footfall, but what has really emerged is just how beneficial the retailers have found it to be in a room with one another.

“Being an independent retailer means it can be hard sometimes to get out and network with your peers, so it was great to bring everyone together and they really started to bounce ideas off each other both in terms of social media and general marketing tips.

“So I’d urge retailers to make sure they attend the final two workshops in the programme. There is also the opportunity for us to go and see the business in action, visit their premises and provide free on site one to one advisory support so they can put into practice what they have learnt.”

Dates for Session three – The digital future for retail businesses - are:

Stratford: Tuesday 17 March, 9.30am-1pm

Leamington: Tuesday 17 March, 5-8.30pm

Nuneaton: Monday 23 March, 10am-1.30pm

Rugby: Wednesday 15 March, 9.30am-1pm.

 For more information please visit http://towncentres.eventbrite.com or contact Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce on 02476 654321 (Option 4).

BMW Group apprenticeships launched at learning event for teachers

Teachers and careers advisors gathered at an event at BMW Group’s Hams Hall engine manufacturing plant in North Warwickshire to see the company launch its 2020 apprenticeship opportunities.

More than 30 apprenticeship places are on offer at BMW Group UK’s production site, with around a third of those places in technical roles, based at Hams Hall.

Teachers were invited to spend the afternoon at the engine production plant to learn in more detail about a BMW Group apprenticeship. A plant tour kick-started the event so they could see first-hand the modern, state-of-the-art manufacturing environment.

Presentations were then given by current apprentices alongside those who have completed an apprenticeship and are now enjoying success in their full-time roles.

Simon Farrall, Head of Apprentice and Associate Training for BMW Group UK, said: “A place on our apprenticeship programme is a fantastic way of fast-tracking a career here at the BMW Group.

"The pace of technological change, product innovation and the electrification of new vehicles makes it a really exciting time for new apprentices to be joining us. Working in some of the most advanced manufacturing locations in the UK, alongside some of the most experienced people in the industry, we’re looking for applicants with the motivation and ideas to drive our company forward.” 

BMW Apprenticeships last between two and four years and cover a wide range of areas to help equip people with the skills they need for a successful career in the automotive sector.

Apprentice training leads to a Level Two or a Level Three Competency Qualification, while some young people will have the opportunity to progress right through to degree level in the course of their career depending on their performance.

Depending on the role, applicants will need a minimum of four or five GCSEs at Grade 3 or 5 or above, including Maths and English. For engineering and business degree apprenticeships, applicants will also need relevant higher qualifications, which will be outlined in each job advert.

For full entry requirements visit the following link: https://www.bmwgroup.jobs/uk  

Entries are open until 28th February, but early applications are advised.

Jonathan Browning to stand down after "invaluable" service to CWLEP

"Jonathan has played a vital role in helping the Coventry and Warwickshire economy develop so strongly in recent years."

Chair of the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Jonathan Browning will stand down when his current term of office ends this spring.

Mr Browning, who joined the organisation in 2014, will hand over the reins in April.

He will also relinquish his roles as chair of the CWLEP Programme Delivery Board, being a member of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) Board and chair of the WMCA’s Strategic Economic Development Board.

Mr Browning is a globally-recognised figure in the automotive industry and joined the CWLEP after three years as President and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America. His career has spanned the breadth of the industry across multiple countries and regions, working in locations ranging from Turkey to Switzerland and from Germany to the USA, as well as numerous parts of the UK.

He said: “When I returned to Warwickshire and joined the CWLEP in 2014, my impression was that the area had many strengths but there wasn’t a joined-up approach and that was holding us back from realising our potential.

“That is no longer the case as there is much greater collaboration between the private and public sector which has led to tangible success which is moving Coventry and Warwickshire’s economy forward.

“A perfect example is the partnership working between the CWLEP, Coventry City Council and WMG at the University of Warwick which led to the area winning a competition to build the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre which will open near Coventry next spring.

“The CWLEP has also made great strides over the last six years as we have been identified as one of the top three LEPs in the country and we have now attracted more than £330 million of funding to Coventry and Warwickshire.

“I would like to thank the CWLEP’s executive team, the voluntary hard work of our board of directors and business groups and the support of our partners in local authorities, business organisations and companies across the area over the last six years.”

Mr Browning has been widely praised for his work during his time at the helm of the CWLEP.

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Leader of Warwickshire County Council, said: “Jonathan has played a vital role in helping the Coventry and Warwickshire economy develop so strongly in recent years.

“He has been a very positive chair who has overseen and helped foster a very strong bond between all partners from different areas and sectors, to help ensure that we achieve shared aims for the good of the area and that our voice is heard at a wider regional and national level.

“That leadership will be sorely missed, but he leaves us in a very strong position to continue to make a positive impact for all our residents and businesses.”

Prof Sir Ralf Speth, Jaguar Land Rover Chief Executive, said: “We have worked very closely with the CWLEP over recent years and appreciate its work supporting Jaguar Land Rover’s activities in Coventry and Warwickshire. The LEP has been a driving force in the local and regional economy, ensuring that this area punches above its weight at national and international level.

“Jonathan Browning perfectly understands the industrial and commercial mix of this area and his background at a high level in the global automotive industry has been invaluable. He has been a real champion for growth, with very tangible results, particularly in the important field of R&D and engineering.”

Nick Abell, vice-chair of the CWLEP, said the CWLEP has made great strides under Jonathan’s leadership.

He said: “Jonathan’s drive, vision and ambition has been instrumental in creating an area which is making a real difference to the benefit of those who live and work in Coventry and Warwickshire.

“He has been an excellent leader over the last six years and we have benefited from his business acumen and I would like to thank him for his voluntary contribution in taking the area forward on many levels.

“We are now tasked with finding his replacement and with Coventry being UK City of Culture in 2021 followed by the Commonwealth Games in 2022, there are many exciting opportunities on the horizon that we must maximise for the benefit of Coventry and Warwickshire.”

For further information, please click on the following link: https://www.gatenbysanderson.com/job/GSe61399/chair-67/




Special Feature

Powering communities since 1982 and still going strong - Coventry and Warwickshire CDA

Social enterprises (community businesses) have become part of the lifeblood of communities in the UK. Set up by people who identify a problem or issue and decide to do something about it, social enterprises now play a huge role in supporting communities both on a national scale, like The Big Issue, Café Direct and The Co-operative Group, and through smaller projects created to addressing specific local needs.

Setting up a social enterprise can seem complex and daunting. But in our region help is at hand. Coventry and Warwickshire CDA is there to provide all the required business support via the Coventry and Warwickshire Business Support Programme, part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Warwickshire County Council.


Coventry and Warwickshire CDA was launched in 1982 with a mission to provide people with the support they needed to lead economically active and fulfilling lives.

The organisation was created to help other groups become established and grow, yet its own growth and impact is a significant, if unsung, success story - and they are still successfully trading after almost 40 years.

A not-for-profit organisation, Coventry and Warwickshire CDA provides free support for people to start and sustainably grow all types of social enterprise and community businesses. It also delivers many other activities which promote financial and economic inclusion.

Every day in Coventry and Warwickshire around 500 social enterprises make immense contributions to neighbourhoods, the local economy and environment. Many of these have fledged with invaluable support from the Coventry and Warwickshire CDA.

Every year the CDA provides around 100 people with pre-start enterprise support and helps more than 450 people via its employability programme. Each year it works with around 80 social enterprises to improve their business skills and helps around 25 social enterprises to start trading. In Warwickshire alone, in 2019, the CDA supported 52 groups, including the creation of six new social enterprises.

Among the strands of that varied support is Accelerate, a £3m project which is part of the Building Better Opportunities programme, supported by the European Social Fund and National Lottery Community Fund. Accelerate offers people individualised employment advice and support to break through some of the common barriers holding them back.

Mandy Bygrave, Operations Director for Accelerate, said: "Accelerate is different to other employment support initiatives that have been tried before. Individuals can contact any Accelerate partner to sign up for support or be referred, and the first thing we do is introduce them to a Journey Guide who works with them to design a package of support that meets their requirements. It could be confidence-building, mentoring or specialist advice provided by one or more of our partners.

"The response we have had from people in Coventry and Warwickshire has been fantastic. We certainly didn’t expect to pass 1,000 participants since the project started.

"We are confident that we can deliver the bespoke advice and guidance that people need to overcome their barriers and find sustainable employment, even more so now that we have received a funding extension until March 2022”

Among those to have benefited from Accelerate is mother-of-one Chelsea Fraser who attended a number of events before gaining volunteer experience at the Coventry and Warwickshire CDA, which then led to a job offer.

“Having someone to just listen and provide possible solutions straight away was a massive relief and helped push away some of those dark clouds,” Chelsea said. “I was in a rut and needed to get out of it so they referred me to the Sky Blues in the Community’s Sports Leadership programme, which was fantastic. It gave me some confidence back and helped me get active again, which is great for helping you come to terms with anxiety."

* For more information about Accelerate please visit www.accelerate.org.uk or about Coventry & Warwickshire CDA as a whole please visit www.cwcda.co.uk.

Coventry & Warwickshire CDA can be contacted at 30A Binley Road, Coventry, CV3 1JA, by telephone on 024 7663 3911 or email: info@cwcda.co.uk.

“This project forms part of the Coventry & Warwickshire Business Support Programme which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)

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Guest column

Cyber-security: Simple steps that can save your small business from ruin

Anne Tasker is founder and managing director of Zenzero Solutions, a leading business IT solutions provider based in Warwick. A former software engineer, Anne set up the company in 2004 to provide SMEs with all areas of IT expertise.

Sixteen years later, one of the biggest challenge facing small businesses is cybercrime. This challenge, says Anne, is one that SMEs cannot afford to ignore.


We all know that cybercrime is on the increase, costing the UK millions of pounds, wasting time and threatening reputations. But when you are running your own business and all that goes with that, the idea of having yet another issue to deal with, i.e. cybercrime, can feel overwhelming or instil an attitude of “it will never happen to me”.

But there are relatively simple things you can do to protect your business.

As a managed IT provider set up to support businesses, charities and other organisations here are some simple steps we suggest you take as a starting point - and the good news most of these will not cost you a penny.

Leavers and Joiners

You will have a process in place for when people join your organisation so they can get on with the job as soon as possible. But does that process consider access? How much data, e.g. accounts, customer information, suppliers or sales files is relevant to their work? More importantly what system do you have in place for when someone leaves? A tech savvy individual can put a redirect on their emails to an external account before they leave which means they can still see what is going on in your company. Not a good idea – especially if they have gone to a competitor.

Passwords, passwords, passwords

This is where you can become vulnerable. Not just because staff use their dog’s name, favourite football team or even passw0rd123. This is when they use a password similar to their work password on an external website. For example, you ask them to order flowers for a sick colleague with the company credit card. The flower shop’s ecommerce site wants a password. They use their work emails and a password similar – not the same – to the one for work but maybe change the O to a zero - 0. The flower shop’s website is hacked and it doesn’t take a genius to then get into your system too.


How many times have people said to you they are too busy to update their software? Yes, it may mean a reboot but the updates are not there just to add a new widget to your computer. Microsoft engineers are finding and fixing software vulnerabilities every day and it is these vulnerabilities the hackers are looking to exploit. Updates help prevent that from happening.


Phishing emails are an attempt to steal your password, video you, redirect your emails and even add a virus to your computer which will only be removed if you pay a ransom – known as ransomware.

These emails look genuine which is why it is so tempting to open them. But never give away information without checking first that they are real. A quick phone call to a colleague who supposedly is asking you to redirect an invoice will save a lot of pain and your company’s reputation in the long run. Windows 10 includes a decent anti-virus which will stop most of this malware, but human error plays a major part in mistakes.

Multi-Factor Authentication

Banks have now begun to do this with transactions and not just those which appear to be larger than normal. So instead of just accepting your transfer of money they will text you a code – Amazon can do the same – to check you are who you say you are. This multi-factor authentication means even if someone has logged in, pretending to be you, they will need the code to take it any further. Hackers like an easy life so if you have MFA they will generally walk away at that point.

And finally...

One of the best things you can do for your business or organisation is to go through the process to gain a Cyber Essentials Certificate. It is a UK government-backed and nationally recognised certification for protecting client data from misuse and cyber-attacks.

It is something we offer to clients and non-clients and shows best practice in the way you hold and use valuable and sensitive information. Most government tenders will not consider organisations which don’t have the certification nowadays, so it is good for business as well as your own piece of mind.


Upcoming events

Events Venue Dated Link to find out more
Startup essentials: Effective Social Media Innovation Village, Coventry 20/02/2020 https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/startup-essentials-effective-social-media-tickets-83581292897
Warwick Business Networking Venue The Old Coffee Tavern, Warwick 20/02/2020 https://www.business-buzz.org/local-business-networking-locations/warwick/
Race Retro NAEC 21/02/2020 https://www.raceretro.com/
Microbusiness Show Draycote Hotel, Rugby 25/02/2020 https://www.themicrobusinessshow.co.uk/
Apprentice Open Events at the mtc Lloyds Bank Advanced Manufacturing Training Centre, Ansty 25/02/2020 https://www.cwgrowthhub.co.uk/event/apprentice-open-events-mtc-1
Business Brexit Briefing Holiday Inn, Kenilworth 26/02/2020 https://www.cw-chamber.co.uk/events/business-brexit-briefing/
One to One Business Support Session for Nuneaton & Bedworth Businesses Eliot Park Innovation Centre, Nuneaton 02/02/2020 https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/one-to-one-business-support-session-for-nuneaton-bedworth-businesses-tickets-84592639863?aff=ebdssbcitybrowse
Raising Finance for Business Business Innovation Centre, Coventry 04/03/2020 https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/raising-finance-for-business-tickets-85945903511
Midlands Business Network Expo The Ricoh Arena 06/03/2020 https://themidlandsbusinessnetwork.co.uk/events/midlands-business-network-expo-march2020/
Zero Carbon System Operation - CIGRE Women's Network National Grid, Warwick 11/03/2020 https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/zero-carbon-system-operation-tickets-91444191037?aff=ebdssbdestsearch 
Rugby Business Networking Venue The Prince of Wales, Rugby 12/03/2020 https://www.business-buzz.org/local-business-networking-locations/rugby/  
Budget Seminar Burgis & Bullock, Stratford-upon-Avon 13/03/2020 https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/free-budget-seminar-13th-march-2020-stratford-upon-avon-tickets-90318080811 
Save Money and Get More Customers Venture House 19/03/2020 https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/save-money-and-get-more-customers-tickets-86667688389 
Why clean growth is good for business Ramada Hotel, Coventry 20/03/2020 https://www.cwlep.com/event/why-clean-growth-good-business 
Nuneaton Digital Towns The Saints Learning Centre 23/03/2020 https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/nuneaton-digital-towns-tickets-84889706397?aff=ebdssbdestsearch
Breakfast Briefing: Prof David Bailey Wright Hassall, Warwick 24/03/2020 https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/breakfast-briefing-with-professor-david-bailey-at-730am-on-tuesday-24th-march-tickets-90675088631?aff=ebdssbdestsearch 
Marketing Strategy Wellesbourne Enterprise Park 25/03/2020 https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/marketing-strategy-tickets-85948248525 
Coventry & Warwickshire's BIG Business Lunch Ricoh Arena Premier Lounge 26/03/2020 https://www.cw-chamber.co.uk/events/coventry-warwickshires-big-business-lunch/ 
One to One Business Support Session for Nuneaton & Bedworth Businesses Eliot Park Innovation Centre, Nuneaton 06/04/2020 https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/one-to-one-business-support-session-for-nuneaton-bedworth-businesses-tickets-84592639863?aff=ebdssbcitybrowse 
Understanding international Trade and Getting Goods to Market Coventry 08/04/2020 https://www.cw-chamber.co.uk/events/understanding-international-trade-and-getting-goods-to-market/ 
Visual Goal-Setting and Outside-The-Box Thinking Venture House 17/04/2020 https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/visual-goal-setting-and-outside-the-box-thinking-tickets-93936828583 
One to One Business Support Session for Nuneaton & Bedworth Businesses Eliot Park Innovation Centre, Nuneaton 04/05/2020 https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/one-to-one-business-support-session-for-nuneaton-bedworth-businesses-tickets-84592639863?aff=ebdssbcitybrowse 
Maximise LinkedIn with Innovative Marketing Venture House 21/05/2020 https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/maximise-linkedin-with-innovative-marketing-tickets-93940660043 
Coventry Motofest Coventry 07/06/2020 https://www.coventrymotofest.com/ 
One to One Business Support Session for Nuneaton & Bedworth Businesses Eliot Park Innovation Centre, Nuneaton 08/06/2020 https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/one-to-one-business-support-session-for-nuneaton-bedworth-businesses-tickets-84592639863?aff=ebdssbcitybrowse 
Rail Live QRTC, Stratford 18/06/2020 https://www.raillive.org.uk/ 
Developing Great Networking and Negotiating Skills Workshop Venture House 19/06/2020 https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/developing-great-networking-and-negotiating-skills-workshop-tickets-93939069285 
TaaS Technology Conference Warwick Conferences 30/06/2020 https://taas.technology/ 
Vehicle Electrification Expo NAEC Stoneleigh, Kenilworth 08/07/2020-09/07/2020 https://ve-expo.com/ 

Business and Innovation Magazine

C&W Business Festival: https://www.cwbusinessfestival.com/ 

Business Ready: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/business-ready-12629314668 

Coventry University Enterprises: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/cue-business-solutions-13651209205 

C&W Chamber of Commerce: https://www.cw-chamber.co.uk/events/ 

C&W Growth Hub: http://www.cwgrowthhub.co.uk/events 

CW Champions: https://www.coventry-warwickshire.co.uk/events 

Midlands Business Network: http://themidlandsbusinessnetwork.co.uk/events/ 

Leamington Hour: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/leamington-hour-7578817945 

Stratford Business Forum: http://www.stratford-business-forum.co.uk/ 

Leamington Business Forum: http://www.leamington-business-forum.co.uk/ 

The Henley Hub: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-henley-hub-tickets-51519328699 

Southam Business Forum: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/southam-business-forum-8369172972 

Warwickshire VA Network: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/the-warwickshire-virtual-assistant-network-16829545906 

CW First Professionals: https://www.coventryfirst.co.uk/events-diary/ 

National Agricultural Exhibition Centre (NAEC): https://www.naecstoneleigh.co.uk/Visitors/Whats_On.html

Ricoh Arena: https://www.ricoharena.com/whats-on/ 

Business Buzz Warwick: http://www.business-buzz.org/local-business-networking-locations/warwick/ 

Fab Network: https://www.fab-networking.com/ 

Creative Mornings Leamington: https://creativemornings.com/cities/lms

Business & Innovation Magazine: https://www.businessinnovationmag.co.uk/ 

News in Brief

All the latest news-in-brief from around the county...

£1bn Technology and R&D commercial property pipeline

As the Coventry & Warwickshire MIPIM Partnership of private and public stakeholders prepare to represent the region next month at MIPIM 2020, a pipeline of £1bn in commercial property development for R&D and Technology has been revealed in the area.


Herbert Gray College transformed

The go-ahead has been granted for a major extra care development in a Warwickshire town centre which will create 50 full-time jobs.

Abode Caldecott Square Developments has secured permission for the project at Herbery Gray College in Little Church Street from Rugby Borough Council. Two five-storey blocks will be constructed with 78 flats as well as a three-storey 52-bed care home and an ancillary wellbeing centre including café, restaurant and leisure/spa facilities


Work set to begin on Warwickshire Garden Village

Long Marston Garden Village is one of the first generation of new garden villages being created across the country and work is set to start in the next few weeks after land for the first phase of the site was sold to developer Cala Homes.

Garden villages are designed to be distinct communities with their own facilities, rather than extensions to existing urban areas, and will not only deliver homes, but also bring new jobs and boost local economies.


Rail company Porterbrook to make major investment at Long Marston

The rail leasing group Porterbrook, who lease rolling stock on the UK rail network, has taken a 15 year lease on the QRTC, the Quinton Rail Technology Centre, a major UK main-line linked rail test, development and storage facility near Stratford-upon-Avon.


Government makes major automotive announcement – consultation on phasing out of ICE.

The UK Government has announced plans to phase out the sale in the UK of ICE (internal combustion engine) and hybrid powered vehicles by 2035, and a public consultation on the matter. From the final date, only electric or hydrogen powered vehicles would be allowed to be sold as new vehicles in the UK.


£500m Investment into Aston Martin Lagonda

Aston Martin Lagonda, the Gaydon based maker of luxury sports cars, has secured further investment of £500m from Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll.


Jaguar Land Rover CEO to step down in September

Jaguar Land Rover, the UK’s largest manufacturing company, has launched a £1.1bn round of cost cuts as Britain’s largest carmaker announced that Ralf Speth, its chief executive for a decade, would step down in September.


LEVC and volvo mull over merger

The parent company of Warwickshire-headquartered Geely London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC), famous for its electric London black taxis is in discussions with Volvo over a possible merger.

The LEVC TXe City already contains an amount of Volvo technology. A separate company, Volvo Truck and Bus UK, is already headquartered in Warwick. The two companies share the Volvo logo.


ConVex to set up at University of Warwick

Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) is leading a new £8 million consortium to open up vast amounts of travel data for vehicle makers, inventors, coders and entrepreneurs to develop new transport products and technology.

The public-private consortium includes Jaguar Land Rover, Bosch, Warwick Manufacturing Group and three innovation partners: Valerann, Synaptiv, and Immense. The facility is to be headquartered in the West Midlands at the Warwick Manufacturing Group campus at the University of Warwick. There will be a partner office at Bosch’s Connectory facility in London.


Slightly Mad Codemasters

Codemasters, the Indian owned games developer and developer of the F1 franchise, agreed to acquire racing simulation specialists, Slightly Mad Studios for $30m.


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