MBDA, NatWest, BT and Lloyds are just some of the major household names who have chosen to get behind the innovative programme to help find creative solutions to local problems.
In its first six months the Programme has looked to address some of the challenges surrounding upskilling the workforce to meet local employers’ needs, take-up of apprenticeships and encouraging more young people to pursue careers in STEM.
By calling on its cross-sector expertise, the Envoys have also looked at how to balance the county’s need to provide new homes versus the loss of employment land.
At its last Envoy event at Oaklands College, where catering students served up haute cuisine quality fare, Envoy Nigel Palmer, Director of Lambert Smith Hampton, St Albans, talked about the consequences of Permitted Development Rights (PDR) in relation to loss of key office accommodation and the impact on land values which was threatening the viability of office redevelopment and refurbishment in St Albans.
Many Envoys echoed this view across the county with Cllr Sara Bedford, Leader Three Rivers District Council, calling on the LEP and industry to work together with local planning authorities on a collective response to show the impact PDR is having in the South East. Cllr Bedford argued the impact was being felt not just on the loss of office space but on entire communities where the work/life balance was being seriously eroded.
As a result of this discussion several actions are to be taken forward including the proposal to set up a working group to focus on these issues in greater depth. Envoys and the wider business community will be asked to feedback their responses to help shape the LEP’s economic priorities and ensure that its core aims reflects the needs of businesses.
Mark Coppen, Director of Corporate and Commercial Banking, NatWest, and member of Hertfordshire LEP Banking Forum is Chair of the Envoy Programme. He said: “This is not a talking shop but a very powerful and effective way to help harness business expertise to bring about real change.”
View more information on the Envoy Programme.