Colors: Purple Color

An event to inspire the next generation of women in business is being hosted by the University of Wolverhampton.

The first Faculty of Social Sciences (FOSS) Women in Business Expo will take place on Thursday, 17 January 2019 and is already a sell-out.

The event is aimed at all business students at the University and will enable them to learn first-hand about the business world from inspirational entrepreneurs and experts.

The expo will take place from 9.30am – 2pm on the 5th floor of the University’s Lord Swraj Paul Building, Wolverhampton.

Hajrija Dergic, HND Business Course Leader, said: “Our Women in Business Expo is themed around engaging, encouraging and inspiring our students to aim high by hearing from entrepreneurs and experts in the field.

“They will also have the opportunity to network with business professionals, share experiences through workshop activities and learn about opportunities for business support.”

Inspirational speakers will include Jordan Nell, Business Development Manager at Women’s Business Club; Peni Brudenell-Pryke, CEO of Greengineering and Maxine Laceby, Founder & CEO Absolute Collagen at Absolute Collagen.

Passengers can now collect deliveries from self-service Amazon Lockers at the region’s major bus stations – just in time for Christmas.

The Lockers have been installed at eight bus stations, including Walsall, Wednesbury, Dudley, Stourbridge, Bilston, Halesowen, Wolverhampton and Coventry.

Passengers using Amazon for their Christmas shopping can choose to have their parcels delivered to a secure Locker at one of the stations, rather than risk missing a delivery at home.

The Lockers are the latest feature aimed at making bus travel even more convenient for passengers using the stations which are operated by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).

Adam Henshaw, TfWM’s bus stations manager, said: “The Lockers are a really useful addition for some of our busiest bus stations, giving passengers another option for collecting their Christmas shopping.

“They’ve only been in place a few days but are already being well used by passengers picking up their parcels on the way home.

“When you are at work all day it can be difficult to co-ordinate deliveries and a lot of people are telling us that these Lockers are making things easier – which is no bad thing at this time of year.”

The Lockers which have been installed at no cost to TfWM are expected to generate a small revenue which will go towards the upkeep and maintenance of the stations.

Kristina McCann, marketing manager, Amazon Lockers, said: “Amazon Lockers enable customers to click and collect their Amazon orders in an easy and secure way, at no extra cost. We are excited to have our newest lockers installed at some of the West Midlands stations, just in time for the holidays.”

Last night Ex-footballer Clarke Carlisle claimed “British stiff upper lip” attitude to mental health and “code of silence” around the issue have finally been broken

 

As Clarke and his wife, Carrie Carlisle, accepted the Speaking Out Award at the 25th annual Virgin Money Giving Mind Media Awards, which honour the best portrayals of mental health in the media, he said:

 

“Don’t be shackled, do not be burdened, do not be conditioned by what has gone before. The stiff British upper lip, it’s gone. That code of silence around what you’re thinking and what you’re feeling, it’s gone.”

 

The couple won the Speaking Out Award at last night’s event hosted by Mind’s President Stephen Fry. The award is given to people who have made a significant impact by sharing their own experiences of mental health problems. The star-studded event took place at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, with Fearne Cotton, Frankie Bridge and Nicola Roberts among the celebrity guests celebrating storytelling which helps improve understanding and attitudes towards mental health.

 

Clarke Carlisle, a former chairman of the Professional Footballers Association, and a player for Burnley, QPR and Leeds, has a history of depression and was reported missing by his family last September, who feared for his life. In a candid interview with Liverpool’s Radio City – which has won the Radio award this year – Clarke spoke about how he had been “strolling around Liverpool looking for a responsible way to die” until a passerby spoke to him and encouraged him to call his wife. Carrie was interviewed alongside him, and was recognised for her bravery in recounting her experience of Clarke’s disappearance and how she helped her husband.

 

Carrie said:

 

“People have said to me, how could he put you through that? And my husband said to me he felt like such a burden to me and his family. Let me be clear, my husband didn’t put me through anything. If you’re suffering, you’re not putting anyone through anything. The illness is putting us through something. And the illness is putting you and your family collectively through something.”

 

Clarke also spoke about his hopes for their children: “They’re not going to have an upbringing like we had. They’re going to be encouraged to be emotionally literate, emotionally resilient – they’re going to be taught that every emotion is bone fide and welcome in our house.”

 

This year’s entries were among the most diverse yet, covering issues from the struggle to get a diagnosis for depersonalisation disorder to living with hearing voices.

 

The Making A Difference Award – which recognises media that sets the agenda and initiates change - was awarded to Hollyoaks for their #Don’tFilterFeelings campaign on social media, inspired by the show’s mental health storylines such as Alfie Nightingale’s schizoaffective disorder.

 

In a strong year for the BBC, BBC News at 10 took home the News and Current Affairs Award for their ongoing coverage of issues from the pressure on mental health services to the impact of the Grenfell Tower tragedy. Meanwhile, the One Show won the Entertainment Award for their imaginative approach to tackling issues such as body dysmorphic disorder, and Drama went to BBC Three’s Overshadowed for its adaptation of the award-winning play, portraying the story of Imogene and her relationship with body image and anorexia.

 

The Documentary award was presented to ‘Girls on the Edge’ aired on BBC 2, which told the story of three teenage girls sectioned under the Mental Health Act. And Podcast - a new Award for this year - went to BBC Newsbeat’s “I hear voices” which highlighted one woman’s story of living with Schizophrenia.

 

Also in broadcast, this year’s Soaps and Continual Series was scooped by ITV’s Coronation Street for highlighting male mental health and suicide with character Aidan Connor. And in a win for local media, Radio City was awarded Radio for their Mental Health Marathon - 24 hours of non-stop coverage where 73 guests shared their stories.

 

In print, Hannah Jane Parkinson won Journalist for a single, powerful article ‘It’s Nothing Like a Broken Leg’ which called for greater conversation around mental health to be matched by better services. Publication went to The Doctor, for their Disparity of Esteem series.

 

Student Journalist was awarded to Goldsmiths masters’ student Hannah Currie for her film piece ‘We Are All Here, The Forest of Black’, which highlighted the men’s mental health crisis in Scotland.  This year’s Digital Champion is Charlotte Mullin for ‘Chuck Draws Things’ who details her experiences of living with anxiety and depression through comic-strip pigeons.

 

For the second year running, Mind teamed up with Loose Women to present the Lighten the Load Hero Award. The award celebrates every day heroes who support people living with mental health problems. This year’s winner is Amy Lawrence, nominated by Chloe Sunnucks for going above and beyond to help her manage her mental health issues in the workplace.

 

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind said:

 

“The best portrayals of mental health in the media not only help to challenge stigma and build awareness, but can have a direct impact on our wellbeing. Following last year’s unprecedented media attention on mental health, our research found a rise in people seeking help and supporting each other. Every journalist, producer and blogger honoured tonight can be proud that they are changing people’s lives and creating a better national conversation about mental health.

 

“But while the media has helped to expand the conversation, the reality of living with a mental health problem in our society hasn’t improved at the same pace. This year, nine in ten people have faced discrimination because of their mental health and only a quarter of people have received help from health services. We hope the media can continue to highlight the systemic problems and injustices people with mental health problems face so many more can get the support they need.”

An update to Birmingham City Council’s Social Value Policy and the Birmingham Business Charter for Social Responsibility, designed to better align them to with the council’s priorities, are set to be presented to Cabinet on December 11.

The proposals before Cabinet also include the incorporation of a Construction Charter, covering key topics in the sector including:

-          Health and safety;

-           Employment and skills (to help address a shortage of workers in the sector);

-          Ethical practices.

Cllr Brett O’Reilly, Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources at Birmingham City Council, said: “To ensure that everyone in Birmingham is best placed to benefit from the spending power of the city council, we must always ensure that every pound of taxpayer money is spent with the economic, social and environmental well-being of citizens in mind.

“Our Social Value policy and the Birmingham Business Charter for Social Responsibility have been tools that have done much to achieve progress on this front.

“More than two-thirds of £1.1billion we spent in 2016/17 went to Birmingham-based or branched suppliers. Of that £1.1billion, almost half (£501million) went to small and medium-sized businesses.

“Much of that money then remains in the local economy, supporting citizens and their families. But we cannot afford to stand still. The proposal to Cabinet will ensure that our policies and approaches are aligned to the council’s overall priorities, which will ensure that our spend is even more targeted and effective than ever before.”

The idea adopting a construction charter was first put forward to the council by Unite the union, which has agreed to Birmingham’s version which is being put to Cabinet for their endorsement next week.

Cllr O’Reilly added: “As a city, Birmingham is always changing, and wherever you are, there is always a construction project nearby – often with some sort of city council input.

“With major house building projects, industrial and commercial schemes and events such as the Commonwealth Games on the horizon, it is important to ensure the interests of those working in a sector that is hugely important for us are acknowledged.”

adi Building & Refurbishment is on a solid growth trajectory but it has signalled even greater ambition with the November appointment of Adrian Adams as Construction Director to further strengthen the business’ senior team.

A key arm of Birmingham-based firm, adi Group, adi Building & Refurbishment has enjoyed significant growth over recent years, providing construction, refurbishment and fit-out projects for some of the leading companies and brands across the UK.

Adrian has 30 years’ experience, having built strong client and supply chain relationships across the construction industry, and a successful track record of delivering successful projects and maintaining excellent client relationships.

In particular, he brings with him a wealth of expertise in delivering national frameworks and special projects. His remit at adi is to head up the Major Projects division, focusing on projects over £500,000 in value, and to use his drive and enthusiasm to bolster the company’s growth, as part of adi Group’s broader turnover and job creation targets for 2020.

David Beebee, Managing Director of adi Building & Refurbishment, said, “I want to continue to use relationships to generate opportunities, win them and then deliver projects profitably and to a very high standard. Working with our talented existing team, Adrian will ensure our growth is sustainable for the long-term and that our levels of client satisfaction remain extremely high.

There are exciting times ahead at adi Building & Refurbishment and I am proud of what we have achieved so far on our growth journey. We have recruited some of the best people in the local construction industry and that has helped us get where we are today. Adrian’s appointment continues that pattern and will only accelerate our move to the next level.”

Adrian himself said of his appointment, “I am delighted to join a firm with such strong core values as adi and at an exciting stage in its development. I see huge growth potential for the business and I am looking forward to playing my part in helping it achieve its ambitions.”

Kuti's Brasserie, the new fine dining Indian restaurant which opened in on the historic Royal Pier in Southampton this summer, has received three major accolades inside a week.

On Sunday 17th November restaurateur Kuti Miah and chef Ravi Rai completed an incredible week when they were presented with the trophy for Best Newcomer, from BBC TV News presenter, Babita Sharm at the Asian Curry Awards 2018 at Grosvenor House, Park Lane in Mayfair.

Earlier in the week Kuti's Brasserie was named Restaurant of the Year by Scottish-based celebrity chef Tommy Miah at his International Indian Chef of the Year Awards 2018, also in London.

A remarkable triple began when the restaurant received a prestigious Certificate of Excellence from Cobra Good Curry Guide Editor, Pat Chapman.

“This is the proudest week of my life and is testament to the hard work we've put in in creating one of the most impressive destination venues on the south coast,” said Kuti Miah.

Pat Chapman, who is also chairman of the judges for the Asian Curry Awards agreed: “Kuti's is unique, located in an iconic historical landmark, where the expertly cooked food matches the distinctive venue,” he said.

Tommy Miah echoed the sentiments, saying: “I know how hard the team at Kuti's Brasserie work to serve their community, and we are delighted to recognise their brilliant service … with our highest business award.

Set in an imposing two-story property, Kuti's Brasserie has four dining areas with 110 covers on the ground floor; 60 on the first floor; 30 upstairs in the Chandelier Cocktail Bar; and 60 additional seats on the outdoor rooftop terrace, with views across Southampton Water.

New research from Charter Savings Bank reveals that those in their 30s are the savviest savers, setting aside 58% of their disposable monthly income each month – 16 percentage points more than the national average of 42%.

The average monthly disposable income for a 30-something is £486 (after paying bills), and the amount saved each month is £280. They have a higher disposable income on average than the UK as a whole which comes in at £452.

But their disciplined approach to saving means they save nearly 50% more than the national average of £191 a month.

Charter Savings Bank’s study found big differences in the disposable income of men, at nearly £600, compared with women at just over £300, with women saving £134 a month compared with men saving £252.

The research found 11% of adults have never opened a savings account - the equivalent of around 5.7 million people. The number of non-savers rises to 20% among those in their 20s.

UK adults can perhaps be a bit more disciplined - just a tenth (10%) save a set amount of money each month which they don’t touch.

The average size of a savings pot in the UK is £23,629. Those in their 70s have the most, at £44,542, while those in their 20s have just £5,440. There is a big gender savings gap with men having £12,000 more in savings than women at £29,549 compared to £17,611.

The main reason to save for all age groups is having cash for an emergency – but this becomes more important with age, with 63% of people in their 70s saving for a rainy day compared to 44% of people in their 30s. It’s not all about worries though - holidays are the second key factor for saving for people in their 40s, 60s and 70s. Long term financial security is the second most important factor for people in their 20s, while 30-somethings want short term financial security.

Paul Whitlock, Director of Savings, Charter Savings Bank, said: “It’s interesting to see that, no matter what age we are, a potential emergency is our primary motivator for setting money aside. Beyond that, everyone will have different priorities for how much they can afford to save and what they are saving for, depending on what stage of life they’re at.

“The important thing is to try and save as much as you can afford to, from as early an age as possible, and seek out the best rates possible. It may not seem worth putting a small sum away each month, but it’s a brilliant habit to get into, plus that money soon grows.”

Leadership and mentoring will take centre stage at an annual business lecture hosted by the University of Wolverhampton and the Chartered Management Institute.

The 25th Annual Crystal Lecture will take place in the Mary Seacole Building at the University’s Wolverhampton Campus on Thursday, 15 November 2018 at 6pm.

This year’s free event will be presented by former Regional Director for the Institute of Directors in the West Midlands, Dr John Phillips MBE, and Dr Jenni Jones, Senior Lecturer in the HR and Leadership department of the University of Wolverhampton Business School.

They will discuss leadership and mentoring from a practitioner and academic point of view.

The lecture will feature their own leadership and mentoring experiences with a particular emphasis on the successful University Student Mentoring programme, which they have worked on together for the last eight years.

Director of the Business School, Professor Clare Schofield, said: “We are delighted to be celebrating 25 years of partnering with the CMI for the annual Crystal Lecture.

“This year’s event will see John Phillips and Jenni Jones share highs, lows and funny moments with a view to demonstrate how a little investment in this valuable intervention can help make a huge difference. They will share their thoughts about how mentoring builds the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed to be an effective leader into the future.”

The event will start at 6pm with refreshments and networking in the University’s Lord Swraj Paul Building, followed by the lecture in the Mary Seacole Building at 7pm.

The event will include the presentation of the CMI Rosebowl to a University of Wolverhampton Business School student.

Dr John Phillips MBE, retired in 2016 as Regional Director for the Institute of Directors in the West Midlands although he continues to serve as a volunteer. He was the first person to be employed by IoD outside of London in 1993, setting a trend with the organisation now having a UK wide physical presence. In 2010, with the help of Dr Jenni Jones, he set up a mentoring programme for final year business students at the University of Wolverhampton. John and Jenni continue to develop and run the programme in close partnership. Their work involving one to one mentoring from experienced directors concentrates on employability, soft skills and building confidence.

Dr Jenni Jones is a Senior Lecturer in the HR and Leadership Department at the University of Wolverhampton Business School. She is the Course Leader for their PGCert and MA in Coaching and Mentoring programmes and has published various articles on mentoring in the NHS, the Police and within Higher Education. She is also an active coach and mentor within and outside the University.

Law students from the University of Wolverhampton will be providing legal support to the public as part of two pop-up advice clinics.

Members of the public can attend for a free 20-minute consultation with a qualified solicitor specialising in family law matters, such as separation, divorce, and child custody issues, who will be shadowed by a law student.

The next clinic will be held on Thursday, 15 November 2018 from 12.30pm-2.30pm at the University’s Legal Advice Centre on the ground floor of the Mander Centre, Wolverhampton, supported by Thornes Solicitors.

Students at the University’s Legal Advice Centre provide free legal advice to the local community under the supervision of law lecturers or practising lawyers.

This was set up to provide students with valuable experience and also provide legal assistance to people who are unable to gain help through other organisations.

Beverley Rizzotto, Legal Advice Centre Manager, said: “Family Law continues to be an area in which many members of the public require advice and assistance, however due to funding cuts, are not able to afford such representation, or may simply not know whether they are eligible.

“Holding these family law clinics provides a much needed service to the general public, whilst also enabling our law students a great experience to shadow a qualified legal professional, gaining first-hand experience of how the law, learnt as part of their academic studies, is put into practice.”

No booking is required, and slots will be allocated on arrival. To avoid disappointment, it is advised to attend early.

The students who study law and volunteer at the University’s Legal Advice Centre will assist in managing the smooth running of the clinics, and sit in on client appointments, shadowing the solicitor obtaining valuable experience of how the law is put into practice.

Business leaders in Greater Birmingham today urged the government to reform “onerous and outmoded” business rates.

This followed the announcement that inflation fell more than expected in September after hitting a six-month high in August.

Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC) welcomed the prospect of no interest rate rises in the next six months but warned that the result will mean business rate rises in the spring. They rise every year in line with September’s inflation figure and, based on these results, the British Retail Consortium expects them to go up by £180m.

The Office for National Statistics said the fall to 2.4 per cent, down from 2.7 per cent, was largely driven by lower prices for food and non-alcoholic drinks.

Paul Faulkner, the GBCC’s chief executive, said: "Coupled with positive news regarding wage growth, it was pleasing to see inflationary pressure ease as we head into the autumn - hopefully both developments will ease the squeeze on household budgets.

"The announcement is also likely to dampen any prospect of an interest rate rise in the next six months as Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, will no doubt reassure us that inflation levels are edging closer to their two per cent target.

"Nevertheless, the result also confirms a sobering fact - business rates will be going up from next spring.

"Our latest Quarterly Business Report reveals that local firms are increasing affected by this onerous tax and we urge the Government to use the upcoming autumn statement to announce measures to reform this outmoded system and ease the burden on businesses up and down the country.

"We will be discussing this topic and others at the launch event for our latest Quarterly Business Report - I would urge local businesses to attend and share their views on these vital developments."

A high-flying University of Wolverhampton graduate has received a business boost from entrepreneur and former Dragon’s Den judge Theo Paphitis.

Anita Sharma is a Personal Growth and Wellbeing coach for women and children and caught the eye of the businessman during ‘Small Business Sunday’.

She tweeted retailer Theo about her business Anita Sharma Coaching and was one of six weekly winners to gain a retweet by Theo to his 500,000 Twitter followers.

Anita, who graduated with a BA (Hons) in Human Resources Management in 1998 and a PGCE in Business Studies in 1999, will now be profiled on the #SBS website that is exclusive to all Small Business Sunday winners.

She said: “It is great to have support from Theo because supporting people’s emotional wellbeing, especially among preteens and teens, is a passion of mine, however as a small business it has been tough trying to raise the profile of the work I do.  I am ecstatic that Theo has recognised my hard work and helped spread the word about what I do to his following.”

Nottingham-based Anita works with children to help them understand their emotions, reduce anxiety, build positive relationships, increase their confidence and self-esteem and manage academic pressure.

The weekly Small Business Sunday initiative was set up by Theo in 2010 and now has over 2200 #SBS winners and supports small businesses in the UK.

Current investment in infrastructure and technology will underpin future economic success in Birmingham, a major report published today (Friday, 12 October) has revealed.

The report is the second annual Birmingham Economic Review 2018, produced by Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC) and University of Birmingham’s City-Region Economic Development Institute (REDI), which aims to accelerate economic growth in the West Midlands. The report details Birmingham’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, and has highlighted the city’s prosperous and growing digital sector and expertise in advanced technology.

In the report, it estimates that the city’s digital sector is estimated to have contributed £1.4 billion to GVA and created 36,802 jobs in 2017.

Alongside the digital sector, the report highlights the future impact infrastructure investments will have on the region.

Inward investments such as High Speed Rail, Midland Metro Extensions, 5G networks and high-fibre broadband were outlined in the report to enhance connectivity across the region. This has contributed to a high demand in homes and business premises in and around the city.

This increase in demand has been heeded as a warning from the report, as it states that high-quality business premises are now in short supply. The report states that development of strategic employment sites across Birmingham must be prioritised as a matter of urgency.

The skills blight was again identified in the report as a key issue in the region. It stated that residents in the city are less likely to have high-level qualifications and more likely to have few or no qualifications compared to national figures.

Additionally, the region still lags behind national rates for unemployment, as Birmingham’s employment rate was estimated at 63.6 per cent in 2017 compared to the national rate at 74.9 per cent.

The report features insights from many business leaders across the city.

John Crabtree, Lord Lieutenant for the West Midlands and chair of the 2022 Commonwealth Games organising committee, commented on the assets of the city and the number of opportunities ahead that will help shape the region’s future.

He said: “We are not only demographically the youngest city in Europe, but also one of the richest and most diverse.

“The many new citizens we have welcomed have had much to do with our improving economic fortunes.

“We have all the ingredients necessary to become the exemplar of the modern global city…if we do our job properly, we will have 24 months to secure lasting legacies for the entire Midlands with the City of Culture stewarded from Coventry and then the Commonwealth Games headlined in Birmingham.”

Professor Simon Collinson, deputy pro vice-chancellor at the University of Birmingham and Director of City-REDI said: “Building on the economic momentum we have already achieved, more firms are investing, more businesses are starting up, and more high-skilled, talented people are coming to our city-region to work, than we have seen in over a decade.

“Evidence presented in this year’s Birmingham Economic Review shows how and why we are increasingly attractive as a location for leading firms.

“We are delighted to work with the GBCC and other regional partners to help maintain the momentum and ensure that our economic success benefits all.”

Paul Faulkner, chief executive of the GBCC, said: “The Birmingham Economic Review continues to be one of our stand-out publications, fuelled by the expert analysis of the University of Birmingham’s City-REDI.

“We hope that this review again helps advise our members as they make investment decisions in our uncertain political climate, as our formal exit from the European Union approaches.

“There is no doubt that there are challenges ahead for the region, however the Birmingham Economic Review provides much optimism and demonstrates the region’s resilience and strength for the future.

“We would like to thank all of the businesses that contributed their expertise to this report, and brought the analysis to life.”

The new £12.5 million Black Country Elite Centre for Manufacturing Skills (ECMS) has officially been launched by journalist and television presenter, Steph McGovern, marking a significant investment in the future of high-value manufacturing in the region.

ECMS is a collaboration between the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership, University of Wolverhampton, Dudley College, Cast Metals Federation, Confederation of British Metalforming, Institute of Cast Metals Engineers and In-Comm Training.

Based on a Hub and Spoke model, dedicated training centres are now fully operational across the Black Country in collaboration with training providers and professional industry bodies to both upskill employees and train new apprentices in metal forming skills.

The ECMS Hub, based at the University of Wolverhampton’s £100 million regeneration project at the former Springfield Brewery, is an employer-led training facility for the Black Country which has been designed to build on the region’s renowned industrial heritage by providing specialist training, short courses and apprenticeships to upskill the current and future workforce, helping to close skills gaps identified by employers.

The ECMS Spokes comprise a new National Press and Tooling Centre designed and developed by the Confederation of British Metalforming and In Comm Training, located at the In-Comm Training Academy based in Aldridge, focusing on the delivery of toolmaking apprenticeships and technical courses. The Spoke at Dudley College focuses on advance welding training and the Spoke based in Tipton, designed and developed by the Cast Metals Federation and the Institute of Cast Metals Engineers, has advanced moulding and melting facilities which will be used to deliver foundry training at all levels.

Ian Fitzpatrick, Chief Executive at the ECMS, said: “This is a key strategic project for the Black Country which links further education and higher education with local, regional and national employers.

“It’s well known that the manufacturing industry has an ageing workforce and that bespoke training courses -specifically matching industry requirements - can be difficult to source.

“We have listened carefully to what industry needs, and together with our partners, we have designed manufacturing facilities equipped with world class equipment and where world class training will be delivered by some of the finest technical experts in the business.

“Our aim at the ECMS is to give our learners a clear line of sight and a career pathway from Levels 2, 3 and 4, through to Higher National Certificate and Diploma and then Degree Apprenticeships, offering a complete or bespoke training package for the manufacturing sector through both practical and theoretical learning.”

Ninder Johal, Black Country LEP Board Member said: “We are delighted to have worked with partners from the University and training providers to manufacturers and employers to ensure that this new state of the art facility will deliver provision that doesn’t currently exist in the Black Country.

“Funded through the Black Country LEP’s Growth Deal the ECMS will provide specialist training designed to improve productivity and growth across High Value Manufacturing in the Black Country and in doing so support the continued transformation of the Black Country economy.”

Apprentices learn on the job at one of the ECMS’s training Hub or Spokes equipped with new training rooms, metallurgy and metrology labs with access to partner training centres and state-of-the-art engineering facilities. All apprenticeships meet the New Apprenticeship Standards with a variety of delivery models available.

Courses have been developed, with employer input, in casting, toolmaking, patternmaking, metalforming and foundry training, as well as mechatronics, product design and development and advanced computer numerical control.

The Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership approved £8.5 million for the project and the partners have invested £4 million.

The Chancellor’s announcement of a new package of support for skills and productivity is an endorsement of pressure applied by the West Midlands business community.

That was the verdict after Phillip Hammond announced at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham that the annual apprenticeship levy transfer facility will rise from 10 to 25 per cent.

Mr Hammond also said that he would consult with businesses about further changes to the levy from 2020, following the slow take up and employer criticisms.

He also announced that the government’s recent productivity review, to which the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC) contributed, found a management skills challenge in the UK’s small business community.

In order to address this, £20 million will be invested in networks to enable small businesses to learn from each other and from world leading firms. Over 100 mentors from companies, such as GSK, Amazon, KPMG and Siemens, have already signed up to offer their management expertise.

A further £11 million will pay for a management-skills training programme, anticipated to help 2,000 businesses in its first year, with an ambition to train 10,000 people a year by 2025.

Paul Faulkner (pictured), chief executive of the GBCC, said: “We have repeatedly called on stakeholders to increase the flexibility of the apprenticeship levy. The measures announced today, particularly around increasing levy transfers, are a positive indication that the voice of the business community is being heard.

“It is our hope that by allowing large businesses to transfer up to 25 per cent of unused levy funds –-as opposed to 10 per cent currently - more SMEs will be able to access high quality apprenticeships and close persistent skills gaps, which are particularly prevalent in parts of the West Midlands.

“However, as the government and the West Midlands Combined Authority work towards targets of higher apprenticeship-starts, it is crucial that quality is prioritised over quantity, and that all communities feel equipped to access such opportunities.”

On the outcomes of the productivity review, Mr Faulkner said: “The GBCC contributed a detailed response to the government’s productivity review earlier this year. This response was based on data from our annual Growth Through People campaign which, since its launch in 2017, has similarly aimed to boost productivity through improving leadership and management skills.

“Growth Through People has been a hugely successful campaign, with over 450 delegates from businesses across Greater Birmingham attending 17 events earlier this year and an ‘excellent’ net promoter score of 64.

“In 2019 the campaign is set to be bigger and better, with a significant increase in the bespoke digital content from business leaders and experts accompanying the free events series.

“We very much welcome the government to join us at the 2019 Growth Through People campaign, beginning in February next year, and experience its impact first-hand.”

A leading marketing expert will share his insights on what makes a brand stand-out from the competition at a University of Wolverhampton lecture.

Professor Malcolm McDonald will visit the University on Wednesday, 10 October 2018 to present the annual Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) lecture.

The talk, titled Creating Market Leading Value Propositions, will take place in room MH002 in the Mary Seacole Building at the Wolverhampton City Campus at 6pm. There will be refreshments in the Lord Swraj Building Forum café from 5.30pm.

Professor McDonald has written over 40 marketing books and his best-selling 'Marketing Plans' has sold over half a million copies worldwide.

Professor McDonald works with the operating boards of the world’s biggest multinational companies such as IBM, Xerox and BP. He is an Emeritus Professor at Cranfield and a Visiting Professor at Henley, Warwick, Aston and Bradford Business Schools.

Organiser Dr Roy Broad, Lecturer in Marketing, said: “We are delighted to welcome Professor Malcolm McDonald to present our lecture this year. Malcolm is arguably one of the UK's most eminent authorities on marketing strategy and his lecture will no doubt be interesting, engaging and insightful.”

The lecture is open to invited guests, students, staff and members of the CIM and the event will finish at 8pm.

Business leaders in Greater Birmingham today urged transport secretary Chris Grayling to ignore calls for HS2 to be scrapped and reiterate the government’s commitment to the project.

 

Business secretary Greg Clark said scrapping the link between London, the Midlands and the North of England would be “entirely the wrong approach” after former foreign secretary Boris Johnson said that instead the UK should build a bridge to Ireland and put HS2 on hold to focus on a high-speed link in the North of England.

 

Phase 1 of the railway between London and Birmingham was approved 18 months ago and will open in December 2026. Phase 2 is expected to launch in two separate stages. Phase 2a from the West Midlands to Crewe will begin in 2027 followed by Phase 2b from Crewe to Manchester and Birmingham to Leeds in 2033.

 

Paul Faulkner (pictured), chief executive of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, said: “In a time of great political and economic uncertainty, the last thing we need are headline-grabbing articles calling for HS2 to be scrapped.

 

“In particular, Phase 2 is the real game-changer for our region. Connecting Birmingham to eight of the UK’s 10 largest cities will offer our businesses the chance to explore and expand into new domestic and international markets along with improving connectivity across the country which will provide a real shot in the arm to productivity levels in the West Midlands and beyond.

 

“We are often told that building infrastructure fit for the 21st century is the key to unleashing the vast economic potential that exists locally so we are urging Mr Grayling to not waste this chance and use this year’s Conservative Conference in Birmingham to reiterate the Government’s support for the project – the country’s future prosperity rests upon it.”