Mind the Gap

Author: 
Caroline Williams, Chief Executive, Norfolk Chamber of Commerce

Adam Marshall, Executive Director of Policy and External Affairs at the British Chambers of Commerce, recently commented on the fact that now our recently elected, Government is enacting some of the policies that formed part of their manifesto. His point was that there can be a gap between a government’s policies and their political agenda. Without wandering into the dangerous waters of party politics it is interesting to think about the gap that exists between government’s policies and the world of business and commerce.

For example there’s the time lapse between implementing a policy and businesses seeing any positive or negative results from it. Nothing is instant.

In fact the concept of ‘gaps’ is very much in the Chamber’s mind at the moment with our specific campaign of ‘Bridging the Gap’ in place to deal with the links between business and education. Filling the ‘skills gap’ is something that businesses have identified and seek Government backing for. Ideally it’s a ‘virtuous circle’ of commerce and Westminster working together to plan for the future and the greater good of young people, and the economy as a whole. There needs to be a greater understanding between the world of work and the world which schools have to live in, to really bridge the gap between business and education. The Chamber has a core role in achieving this.

But what about some other ‘gaps’? The first that springs to mind is the rift between the focus and exposure given to the North - and its ‘powerhouse’ label - and our region here in the east. We have enormous potential here, fuelled by world class companies who design, make  and create service and products for domestic consumption and export. We must not let our profile reduce as others’ gain more awareness.

The ‘gender gap’, is another vital issue that, despite enormous progress, still needs constant attention.

It’s important that girls and young women should be encouraged into  jobs and sectors which are currently male dominated often for historical reason, but it is as important that there is a greater understanding across both genders about the opportunities open them not just for young people but across the age ranges here in Norfolk. 

I mentioned exporting, and returning to it in more detail there’s another possible crack, that needs to be reduced.  The international political landscape is volatile and there are real tensions across the globe. However there are many world markets open for business and looking for the goods and services we provide here in Norfolk which will assist our local business to grow and create more jobs.  Businesses need to be aware of the issues but they will normally find a way to market with the support from organizations like the Chamber. .

Whatever you’re planning, wherever you’re trading and whatever policies are in place - ‘Mind the Gaps’ and let’s work together to close some of them effecting Norfolk businesses. 

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