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News From The Chamber

Welcome to the latest news and updates from the Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, your hub for business insights, events, and developments in the Cumbria region.

Make sure your business is shining in Summer – a personal message from the Chamber MD

Summer is generally a time for a chance of reflection, pausing and re-setting ready for “start of term” in September.

While the continuing challenges are impacting on the opportunities for a break (not least covering for staff shortages) that doesn’t take away from the need to get our pencil cases restocked and for teachers to get their lesson plans ready. Showing my age here – do people still use pencil cases?!

This August we’re seeing the economy and society increasingly turning to the ‘new normal’, 18 months after the Coronavirus pandemic first hit. And between Covid-19 and the impact of Brexit being felt fully this year, it’s certainly been a challenging time, with many of those challenges continuing to impact.

The latest ONS Labour Market statistics for August 2021 published this week confirm that the UK jobs market is recovering strongly as the boost to demand from the easing of restrictions helped drive higher payroll employment in July.

While this is good news in some ways, businesses countywide, and beyond, are continuing to struggle with severe staff shortages. While Monday’s changes should help in reducing the impact of the Pingdemic they don’t touch the sides of the real problem. There just aren’t enough people to go around. Not only does this affect businesses directly, it also impacts on availability and delivery of supplies and on-costs.

We’re continuing to call for a better arrangement between the UK and the EU to help with labour mobility for a far better, Australian-style arrangement with regard to short term work visas.

And watch out over the next few weeks for a range of opportunities to hear from us and partners about some practical solutions in terms of looking more widely for your workforce.

Lack of production staff and delivery drivers aren’t the only issues affecting supply chains. As well as cost issues, there are the ongoing challenges of getting products to and from customers and suppliers internationally, from delays to changes that mean businesses just can’t move certain goods at all, and everything in between. All at a time when there’s continuing uncertainty about the shape and delivery of DIT international trade support.

Don’t forget though that we can link you into the DIT support that is currently available, as well as the range of services we deliver directly such as specialist import and export training and consultancy, export documentation services and links with Chambers internationally.

On the subject of supply chains, having recently relaunched Cumbria Business Growth Hub’s supply chain activity, and following on from our successful event with Sellafield Ltd in July, we’ve got two further supply chain events booked for September in partnership with South Lakeland District Council and Allerdale Borough Council, plus others coming soon.

We’ve also been updating our supply chain section adding new resources and an open tender page for promotion of tender opportunities.

Don’t forget, the Growth Hub also offers a range of other practical support to help you win more tenders and gain more business including one-to-one consultancy, some great workshops and subsidies that can help you gain useful accreditations such as ISO or SALSA or pay for other consultancy.

In partnership with FW Capital we’re also running a series of three sessions in September and early October aimed at helping you consider the options for financing your business and access funding successfully.

If you’re looking for inspiration from others you might want to take a look at Peer Networks, with new cohorts starting in the autumn.

You can also access a great range of other support from ourselves.

When it comes to personal and business learning and development aimed at addressing challenges and rejuvenating your business, take look at our expanding range of commercial training courses, which we’ll be adding more to over the coming weeks and months, covering changes in the Northern Ireland protocol, employment law, prospecting and sales, marketing, import and export and much more, as well as opportunities to bring in specialist consultancy support. We can also develop bespoke courses tailored to the needs of your business. And if you can’t see the training you’re looking for, let us know.

The Directors Club also offers a range of personal and professional development and networking opportunities to you as an owner, director or senior decisionmaker.

Rest assured that, as we look forward and beyond the Covid crisis, the Chamber will be here to support you and stand up for your interests, whether that’s through rolling up our sleeves and taking action on the ground, or engaging with government directly and through the British Chambers of Commerce.

As part of this, we’ve been commissioned by the Department for Education as a Trailblazer Local Skills Improvement Plan pilot. This initiative is focussed on ensuring that skills delivery is genuinely employer-led. So we’ll be coming out to you over the autumn and winter asking you to get involved in making this pilot really work for Cumbria and Cumbrian employers.

Whether it’s on any of the topics I’ve touched on here, or something else, do always feel free to contact me, suzanne@cumbriachamber.co.uk, or a member of the team on info@cumbriachamber.co.uk.

In the meantime, where did I put that pencil sharpener?


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