As part of an Industrial Strategy and Careers green paper — in support of the government’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS, formerly Department for Business, Innovation & Skills) — Yolanda Rugg, Hertfordshire Chamber CE, who part of a group that reviewed the green paper, says:

“The review of the Industrial Strategy paper was an illuminating exercise; with positive acclaim in some areas but also some concerns. For instance, some of the industrial strategy green paper was insufficiently broad: no reference to migration, or links to exports and global opportunity,” said Yolanda.

“Regarding the Careers Strategy element, Herts Chamber is very interested in the education potential of Hertfordshire, so we believe that English and maths funding should be a schools’ prerogative, not the colleges’, indicating that literacy and numeracy is dealt with too late in a child’s education.

“However, it is encouraging that the Industrial Strategy recognises the importance of STEM subjects — Hertfordshire businesses often say that many school leavers’ literacy, numeracy and STEM skills fall short of what is needed. Hertfordshire Chamber has driven a lot of attention over the years to STEM education,” said Yolanda Rugg.

Commenting on the BEIS Committee’s report on Industrial Strategy (published 3 March 2017) Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said:

“A clear, ambitious mission — and the untapped potential of our towns, cities and counties — need to sit at the heart of the Industrial Strategy.

“We need to decide our top economic and social goals as a nation, and develop a strategy that allows us to deliver these missions. At the same time, we must galvanise business communities all across the UK, so every area can leverage its competitive strengths and make a strong contribution to economic growth and prosperity.

“I applaud the BEIS Committee for recognising that mission and place are crucial to the success of Industrial Strategy. Business communities across the UK will now wish to see government adopt many of these recommendations as it works to bring the industrial strategy to life.”

On the Committee’s recommendation of a fundamental review of Business Rates, where the BCC has been campaigning for radical change, Marshall added:

“Business rates hammer firms with significant, volatile, up-front costs before they turn over a single pound. They are a barrier to achieving an ambitious Industrial Strategy, because they stop many firms from investing in their own productivity and growth. The Committee’s recommendation of a fundamental review of the business rates system is one we have made for years – and it’s time for action.”