Wednesday, 28 October 2015

New future for Chesterfield Co-op store

More good investment news arrived in Chesterfield recently with the announcement that a planning application has been submitted to turn the former Co-op department store into a £20million hotel, restaurants and leisure development.

I am delighted that the potential of Chesterfield has, once again, been recognised by investors. It is large scale developments in the town centre such as this, coupled with our thriving independent sector, which will help make us a go to destination for shoppers and tourists.

November has been designated the month where we hope to do exactly the same for the town’s manufacturing sector with Made in Chesterfield.  The festival has two aims; to attract manufacturing and engineering companies to invest here and create jobs and to get more youngsters turned onto a career in manufacturing

Last year, Made in Chesterfield only ran for a week however it was credited with introducing more than 400 young people to careers within the sector. Building on this success, this year the festival is running throughout November.

Thanks to partnerships Destination Chesterfield has fostered with schools, companies within the sector, Derbyshire Education Business Partnership, Natwest, Chesterfield College, Derbyshire County Council, Chesterfield Borough Council, Placing Futures and Positive 4 Young People,  this year more young people than ever will discover first-hand the employment opportunities and the number of varied and exciting roles within manufacturing and engineering.

If your school, child or company would like to get involved with Made in Chesterfield, you can view the programme of events here 

Attracting young people to the sector is essential if Sheffield City Region (SCR) is to achieve its vision of developing a Modern Manufacturing and Technology Growth Area. Chesterfield’s Enterprise Zone at Markham Vale is already playing an important role in attracting investment to the area and events like Made in Chesterfield are contributing further in ensuring there is a ready workforce to enable SCR to achieve this vision.

We’re also taking a similar approach to the town’s hospitality sector through the Chesterfield Food and Drink Awards. Without a ready workforce proposals for developments such as the Co-op would be a non-starter.

Each year, however, Destination Chesterfield partners with Chesterfield College to showcase the skills of the young people about to enter the hospitality sector. Not only does the College sponsor the awards, it provides the venue for the awards but, most importantly, its own students cater and serve the entire event.

After the success of last year’s awards evening at the College – all superbly catered and served by the students, it came as no surprise that tickets for the 2015 awards sold out weeks before the event, prompting us to increase numbers to the absolute maximum. 

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Made in Chesterfield

I read an article from job website CV-Library that said almost half of recruiters think that engineering is the hardest sector to place candidates in. The study suggested that engineering roles are the hardest for recruiters to fill, and a separate study highlighted an unrelenting skills shortage across the UK as a whole. And the picture is no different in Chesterfield, yet we have a thriving manufacturing and engineering sector here.
The study illustrated for me, yet again, how essential school leavers are for the future of Chesterfield, especially in the manufacturing and engineering sectors. Locally, we are outperforming the national average with manufacturing representing around 20% of the turnover of Sheffield City Region (SCR), and if we want this continue we need to attract a future workforce.

Recognising this, we hosted a week-long Made in Chesterfield festival last year which was designed to highlight the sector to young people and encourage them to consider a career in it when the leave school. It was hugely successful, introducing more than 400 young people to the sector.

Capitalising on this success, this year, we will be dedicating an entire month – November – to Made in Chesterfield. Expect to hear a lot from engineering and manufacturing companies you probably didn’t even know existed, let alone known what they do, during November. Many have been in Chesterfield for years, providing local jobs.
While unemployment locally now stands at its lowest level for three years, youth unemployment currently stands at 16%. We can all work together to make a difference to this.

We know festivals and initiatives like Made in Chesterfield and the Food and Drink Awards work in bringing together the education and business community; introducing them to each other and identifying career and employment opportunities.

Chesterfield College uses the Food and Drink Awards every year to show off the skills of their talented hospitality students at the awards ceremony. Each year the students not only make the food but also serve it and this year will be no different. It is restaurant quality food and service, adding a unique element to these popular awards. My mouth is already watering thinking of the awards ceremony which is once again being held at the College’s Heart Space Building at the end of October.

It’s important we work together to reduce youth unemployment in Chesterfield. Initiatives like Made in chesterfield and the Food and Drink Awards are just the tip of the iceberg. Young people want a job, a place to live and a thriving social scene and we have all that right here, we just need to open their eyes to it.