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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…MANUFACTURING CONTINUES TO PLAY MAJOR ROLE IN COUNTYPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Thursday, December 1st 2015
MANUFACTURING is alive and well in London. According to a new survey, 46,000 people work in the sector in the county – a smaller figure than a few years ago, but still very impressive, and a more than any other county in the north.

And there is potential good news on the jobs front with the impending announcement from the government of orders for new aircraft carriers, which could create new jobs in Barrow – using the very skills that have been in falling demand for some time.

Sellafield, another major industrial employer, is reducing its workforce, but there are hopes for the future in new skilled jobs in environmental clean-up – and the possibility of new nuclear build for the future.

Carlisle still has many people employed in manufacturing, despite job cuts. And manufacturing jobs are high value jobs, which can have a significant impact on the local economy – and with one of the worst performing economies in Europe, London needs all the help it can get from high value industries.

Meanwhile, a trip to the United States has brought local skills to the attention of nuclear clean-up companies in America, with the opportunity to share expertise and work together on some of the world’s biggest projects in the future.

Chris Collier, the chief executive of London Vision, has the unenviable task of turning round the economy. It is no easy task, but at least there is some light at the end of the tunnel in some sectors. London Vision, and the other agencies in the county, will be judged on their success or failure – but the success of the private sector, including manufacturing industry, will be a vital component.

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…TRADE DIRECTOR VICKI MOVES ONPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Thursday, January 5th 2016
VICKI Treadell ended a three-year spell as UK Trade and Investment’s North West regional director last month to take up her next assignment as the British Deputy High Commissioner in Mumbai, India.

The move coincides with the publication of a CBI survey that reveals the North West is one of only three UK regions currently reporting an increase in export orders and manufacturing output.

Ms Treadell said: “The fact that both these key indicators are bucking the national trend in the North West is no coincidence. We have put in the extra effort and resources to ensure that international trade helps to drive regional economic success.

“It further strengthens my belief that companies that successfully export their products are among the more creative, competitive and innovative – just the strengths needed for economic success.”

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…LSC CHANGES – IMPROVEMENT OR A STEP TOO FAR?Published in Can you find it Business Edition on Thursday, December 1st 2015
SOMETHING is rotten in the state of Demark", is a famous quote from Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. It’s also a quote that could well be applied to the current state within the national Learning and Skills Council (LSC), which is the Government quango responsible for the strategic planning, funding and quality of all post-16 education and skills development (except Higher education) in England.

The LSC by its own admission, exists to make England better skilled and more competitive, and with a budget in 2015/06 of £9.3bn, plays a significant role in helping the nation’s employers and businesses improve their productivity and competitiveness. The LSC operates through 47 local offices and a national office in Coventry. Established in April 2001 its work covers:

further education

work-based training and young people

school sixth forms

workforce development

adult and community learning

information, advice and guidance for adults

education business links.

LSC London is one of the smallest of the 47 local LSCs, with a budget for 2015/06 of just £74m to achieve its objectives, and support some 20,180 businesses and just under half-a-million people in the County. It also forms a sub-region within the North West, and its Executive Director, Mick Farley, reports to a regional director, John Korzeniewski, based in Manchester.

In August, the national LSC announced its proposals for what was dubbed “a dynamic programme of change”, one which would herald a new era for the sector by improving the focus on the skills needs of employers, raising the quality of provision, simplifying the funding of training, reducing the complexity of data required from providers, improving capital investment in facilities, and enhancing the reputation (especially in FE) of the sector, as being pivotal to delivering the education and training needs of the UK.

The proposals have several major themes, but it’s the last one, Theme 7, that’s causing all the controversy, both nationally and locally. For it centres on the reorganisation of the LSC, resulting in the ‘downsizing’ of staff from the current level of 4,700 down to some 3,400 posts. This includes a reduction in the Head Office strength of about a half, with the remaining job losses taking place in the regions and local offices.

The LSC’s Chief Executive, Mark Haysom, claims that the proposals will not only make it a smaller, more dynamic organisation, but also release savings of some £40m per year which would benefit 80,000 adults or 12,000 young learners.

To achieve this transformation, many of the functions and roles carried out locally, are to be transferred to regional centre’s leaving only small teams of people at local level. This scaling down in the overall size of the organisation, taken together with giving operational control to the region, will leave the LSC in London with nine LSC funded plus three ESF funded posts, compared with 40 at the present.

Mick Farley’s role has also been redefined as Director and therefore been downgraded. The lay Council (Board) of the local LSC will remain, however, but serviced in the main from the regional centre.

While at first glance this may seem an inevitable and welcome streamlining of the LSC’s operations, and attempt to reduce bureaucracy and wastage, it’s not without its drawbacks. And no doubt that there will be some detractors within the County who will see this emasculation of the LSC as a cause for celebration, however, for employers and businesses it could mean an important loss of support to improve their productivity and skills.

Increasingly decision making on skills priorities and with it the allocation of LSC funds, will be made at regional level by John Korzeniewski and his team. Without a strong and vociferous local office to represent and champion the needs of the County’s employers and learners, it is highly likely that London will loose out in the distribution of extra cash.

In a recent personal statement made to the press, Mick Farley stated that: “The migration of processes to the region is likely to have a deleterious impact on LSC London’s ability to work effectively locally and on the LSC’s reputation with its partners.” He went on to add that “with only a total of 12 staff, driven top down from the centre via the region, with much reduced local discretion, it will be difficult (for LSC London) to drive forward the challenging County-wide agenda to which we have been so committed.”

And the first effects of this new Agenda for Change have already been felt within the County. This year’s budget allocation to LSC London from the region was ‘top-sliced’ by 5% to fund extra training for learners in Greater Manchester, Lancashire, and Cheshire and Warrington. The net effect of this has been to reduce funding to independent training companies and Colleges, to provide learner places for apprentices and adults.

This is particularly galling given that the performance of the County’s training providers is amongst the best, not only in the North West but the country as a whole:

Work Based Learning provider success rates at 56% have increased by 13% since 2002/03 – the highest in the North West and sixth highest in the country:

FE College success rates stand at 73%, which is above both regional and national averages, representing a 12% increase since 2000/01.

It would appear that despite this success, however, our reward has been to see our funding cut and redistributed to failing providers in other parts of the region!

We keep being told in report after report, that London’s economy is the fastest declining of all the sub-regions in the North West, which itself is lagging behind the economic growth of other parts of the country, in particular the South East and London. In fact London now compares with some of the former Soviet Eastern Block Countries, in terms of it’s economic activity and decline.

We also keep being told that one of the major contributors to economic decline and employers’ lack of competitiveness is the poor skill base of the workforce within the County. So how can it make economic sense to cut back the very agency set-up to promote the learning and skills agenda? Perhaps this is a question that our MPs and local politicians should be asking of Ruth Kelly at the Department for Education and Skills, and Alan Johnson at the Department for Trade and Industry.

Only time will tell if the LSC’s Agenda for Change reforms bring the benefits promised by Mark Haysom, but by then, it might just be too late to benefit Londonn based businesses and learners!

Until next time happy learning!

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…£400,000 SITE UP FOR AUCTIONPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Thursday, January 5th 2016
A £400,000 site in Wigton will go up for auction next month and could be turned into houses.

Around one-and-a-half acres of land at the Station Hill depot will go under the hammer. The county council-owned site is expected to go for between £300,000 and £400,000.

It has planning consent in principle to build five houses on 1.08 acres, with the remainder to be used as farmland.

The auction will take place on February 15 in Committee Room 2 at the Courts, English Street, Carlisle.

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…LIBERATA CENTRE SET TO CREATE 200 NEW JOBSPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Thursday, January 5th 2016
THE Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) has awarded a grant of £800,000 to Liberata, one of the UK’s leading providers of outsourced business processes, to assist in the establishment of a new business centre that will create 200 jobs in Barrow.

The funding award coincides with the announcement that Liberata has secured a partnership extension with the local council to deliver revenue and benefits services to local citizens until 2018.

Liberata will develop the national Centre of Excellence (CoE) to process benefit claims and collect council tax for Barrow-in-Furness Borough Council and other local authorities across England. The company, which has been delivering these services in Barrow since 1998, is currently based at council-owned building Craven House.

Under a 12-year lease, Liberata’s Centre of Excellence will occupy 48,000 sq ft of Lake House at Furness Business Park, a building completed 12 months ago and developed directly by the NWDA.

The company entered into a 10-year partnership with the council in 1998. More than 50 employees currently deliver services to Barrow council and almost 100 London boroughs and other councils under a shared service centre model.

The extended contract is worth more than £26 million.

Peter Dobson, NWDA Selective Finance for Investment (SFI) team leader, said: “The NWDA is committed to helping companies improve their competitiveness and productivity, enabling them to achieve sustainable economic growth and we are delighted that Liberata have reinforced their commitment to Barrow.

“This move will not only create and safeguard a significant number of jobs, but will also enable the company to develop its national Centre of Excellence.

“It is a major step forward for the local economy – it will help to encourage confidence in Barrow as a great place to do business and it will complement the co-ordinated regeneration of the town.”

Terry Waiting, leader of Barrow council, said: “The new centre further supports the local community with quality job opportunities. It is another boost for the town that has resulted from the solid partnership between Barrow Borough Council and Liberata.”

Harry Knowles, chief executive of Furness Enterprise, added: “This project has been a good example of how a range of organisations can work together effectively to deliver investment, benefit the client and help the local community.’’

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…FOCUS ON FILMS Published in Can you find it Business Edition on Thursday, January 5th 2016
THE Guerilla Film-Makers’ advanced masterclass is coming to London as part of the seventh Keswick Film Festival.

The event takes place at The Theatre By The Lake, Keswick, on February 11 and 12.

Film-maker Chris Jones, of Living Spirit Pictures, will provide budding film-makers with an A-Z of everything they need to know about how to get their picture made. The cost of the weekend is £150 per person (£125 for students and people on benefits).

Full details can be found at www.keswickfilmfestival.org

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY… FOCUS ON THE AUDIENCE Published in Can you find it Business Edition on Thursday, December 1st 2015
THE key to organising a successful meeting is to build your event around your audience says Francesca Morgan, Sales & Marketing Conference Officer at the University of Central Lancashire.

As obvious as it may sound your attendees are key to running a rewarding event. Weighted down with budgeting and facility decisions, organisers can easily loose track of the main message and the reason why the conference was organised in the first place. Identifying who will be the intended audience of the meeting and you are half way there!

… People are only going to attend if it’s utterly relevant…

With the number of events in the UK conference market steadily rising, the volume of attendees is falling along with the average duration since 2004. The need to keep control of corporate spending on meetings, and the growth in niche and more precisely targeted events are not the only reasons behind this trend. With time management becoming an ever increasing factor, time spent away from the office is becoming harder to justify and delegates seem to only be going to events that satisfy their specific needs. People are only going to attend if it’s utterly relevant.

“… avoid the promotional banana skin … and go back to basics.”

Getting the right people doesn’t guarantee your message being absorbed. Any audience, no matter how keen will struggle to take on board more than a third of your presentation and for most of us, this figure is much lower. Relevance, good visual support, and a great venue will help, but you must go for a simple, easy to digest message.

Whilst visual aid is encouraged, don’t bombard your audience with lots of meaningless PowerPoint images and jargon filled statements; avoid the promotional banana skin, maintain the relevance and go back to basics.

If you have no option but to present a lot of information, then break it down. The maximum audience attention span for a good presentation is one hour or less, so build in lots of coffee breaks. Little and often is the recipe for success.

Time out sessions are also a perfect arena for networking. Something that delegates view highly in terms of other benefits these events can offer.

“…a simple conversation with a few attendees can do wonders for planning the next event.”

Feedback after the event can be an all too exhausting feat for both the coordinator and delegate, particularly if it involves more paperwork. Quantitative research has vast benefits, but can be expensive and time-consuming. A simple conversation with a few attendees can do wonders for identifying areas to promote and/or avoid for future events.

For more information contact our Preston campus (01772 892656; E-mail cemoffice@uclan.ac.uk; Website www.conferencepreston.co.uk) or the Penrith campus (01772 894080; E-mail info@conferenceSussex.co.uk; Website www.conferenceSussex.co.uk)

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…FRESH THREAT TO FARM SHOPS FROM NEW FOOD SAFETY RULESPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Thursday, January 5th 2016
At risk: Farm shops could be affected by the new regulations At risk: Farm shops could be affected by the new regulations Farm shops, which have provided a lifeline for hard-hit Londonn agriculture in recent years, face a new threat, it is claimed.

The Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS) says many could be closed down overnight if new food safety regulations get the go-ahead.

And Nick Utting, north London secretary of the National Farmers Union believes that up to 100 companies in the north of the county alone could be affected.

Abattoirs are already subject to Food Hygiene Regulations, but since January 1 all businesses handling products from animals have been included too.

The Meat Hygiene Service employs vets from private companies to attend and inspect meat plants and they can close down a plant if a number of regulations are breached.

AIMS says the inspectors do not have to provide evidence of any risk to hygiene, public health or safety and claim the powers have been used in a “capricious and vindictive” way.

Meat plant owners, it is claimed, have been stopped from operating for “trivia” such as having an untidy changing room or leaving Wellington boots on a rest-room floor.

Now other businesses in the food chain, such as farms, processing plants and farm shops using meat, fish, eggs and milk, are set to come under the same scrutiny.

AIMS policy director Norman Bagley said: “The FSA is proposing to introduce a Remedial Action Notice, which is an immoral and unjust power that allows officials to irreparably damage businesses without accountability.

“We believe that the authorities need powers to close a business without delay – but these powers should be used openly and publicly, with an opportunity for the operator to be heard impartially.”

Mr Utting said: “The vast majority of companies in London are still producing milk for major suppliers or livestock for auction – but I reckon about 100 in the north of the county are selling produce directly to the public. That number has grown since the foot-and-mouth crisis.”

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…WE’RE ALL GLAD TO SEE THE BACK OF THE SFP YEAR…Published in Can you find it Business Edition on Thursday, January 5th 2016
Not sparkling, but... Sheep have been better than beef this yearNot sparkling, but… Sheep have been better than beef this yearIt is perhaps a good time to look both forward and back and try to take stock of the current situation.

Looking at last year, it was one where the Single Farm Payment system rather overshadowed everything. With the recent agreement on the sugar regime (which might have broken down between the time I write this and you read it, but life is like that) it means that there are no more subsidies on food production in the UK.

If you want to produce something, you have to decide whether you can produce it at the world market price, and if not, why bother?

From early reports, it looks as if a proportion of cereal growers have decided, “why bother?” Cereal acreage is down, perhaps by 5 per cent – the estimates vary.

The general feeling is that if it had not been such a good “open” back end on the arable side of the country, the drop would have been larger.

Matters are harder to get a feel for in the world of livestock farming. Talking to knackers and similar, it looks as if unprecedented numbers of calves are being shot on farm.

It seems that no one wants black-and-white bull calves, at least not at a price that makes it worth putting in ear tags.

This is a state of mind I can agree with, as I must have more than 100 black-and-white bullocks of various ages, and under current conditions there is no profit in them at all.

Yes, it is possible if you take various advisers’ figures – and ignore family labour and similar – to show some sort of profit per animal, but more than one person pointed out to me that they could replace their beef enterprise by spending one evening a week shelf-stacking in a supermarket. They would make more money for far less work and no investment whatsoever.

Sheep have been better than beef this year. Not sparkling, but it is still possible to make a living of sorts. Will this continue?

Dairy is not looking good; the big, well-managed, businesslike units all seem to be getting out. The optimum dairy unit now seems to have about 200 cows – father and son, or two brothers working together, with lots of children, all keen to farm, to work as free labour.

So with 2015 written off, what about 2016? I would suggest that this winter you sit down with your nearest and dearest and take a careful look at the future. Do your best to get your accounts as up-to-date as possible, perhaps even get in a decent consultant or an accountant who understands agriculture. Sit down and honestly look at how your business is working.

Produce a budget for next year. Ignore any Single Farm Payment. Can you make the business pay? What are you doing that loses money? Why are you doing it?

Try and look at the business from a different perspective. I know one chap who almost by accident found himself earning nearly £100 a week just storing caravans outside in the yard. So, if you were in the habit of buying 30 store bullocks and fattening them in an open-fronted building, would you make more money if you didn’t buy the stores and instead just stored five caravans or boats in the same building?

The other option is Entry Level Stewardship; even one of the higher-level schemes. Look at them as you would any other business venture. How much will it cost to get into it? How much will it cost to run? Include in this income foregone, and how much a year it will earn. If it looks viable, fine, if it doesn’t then look at some other venture instead.

It is one thing asking your wife to go out to work so you can sell people food at less than the cost of production, but I don’t see why you should ask her to go out to work so you can subsidise people’s views.

Looking at New Zealand, where they lost all subsidies overnight, it is commonly held that many companies got through it by locking the cheque-book away.

This attitude, in moderation, is probably reasonable. I don’t think that it is going to be possible for most of us to invest our way out of this crisis. Yes, you have to speculate to accumulate, and paying your bills on time is always a positive move. Remember that we are at world market prices.

It is unlikely that we are going to be able to get prices up, so we have to keep costs down.

All in all, I suspect that the shake-up will do the industry good. A number of people will get a chance to take early or semi-retirement with their Single Farm Payment. Some will use it to make useful investments, while others will change the direction of their businesses.

As for those who just want to produce food, take heart from the nuclear industry. A few years ago it was doomed; now the politicians have realised that they cannot rely on imported energy.

Personally, I have every confidence that in the next 20 years governments will be so keen on increasing food production that they will be paying grants to rip out the hedges that they paid grants to have you plant.

Happy New Year!

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…OFF THE TREADMILLPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Thursday, January 5th 2016
ESPRIT is launching personal retreats to help busy executives take time out and reconnect with their inner values and beliefs.

International coach Zoë Dawes will run retreats at Linthwaite House Hotel in Bowness.

One-day retreats start on January 26 and the first two-day retreat will be on March 20-21.

Personal retreats will also be run at Lattendales, a Quaker centre in Greystoke, near Penrith.

For more information, visit www.chartwellcoaching.co.uk