2016. The future has arrived!

Caroline Williams, Chief Executive, Norfolk Chamber of Commerce

Well, we’re here. In 2016.

It’s a year when thinking ahead, and concerning ourselves about the future, will be vital. Now, more than ever, business needs the next generation of workforce to be motivated and ready for work. Without the right skills though, that new workforce becomes not just a wasted resource but a demotivating trap for school leavers and graduates.

A recent survey of youngsters in their GCSE year found them pessimistic about their future.  We need to change this. Because we know that, although challenging, the future for the Norfolk business world is full of opportunities.

Closing the skills gap, and supporting young people into work have to be key objectives for 2016.

As we celebrate being Committed to Business since 1896, we can think of no better way to mark our 120 years anniversary than to focus on the future, through making a  difference to Norfolk’s young people’s lives.

Of course it’s been fun to take a look back at history, and we’re proud of the contribution that the Chamber business members have made to the region’s commercial development over all those years. We will be adding what we have found onto our website during the year.  But it is the future which really matters. We’re delighted to use our celebration year as a catalyst to support young people.

At The Norfolk Chamber of Commerce we’ve launched our Norfolk Chamber Anniversary Fund. It’s aimed at providing grant awards to charitable organisations, working within Norfolk, with young people aged up to 25.  It’s about increasing access to employment and improving the opportunities and career options open to young people across the county.

To show we mean business we’ve committed to match all donations pound for pound. And now we’re asking businesses to donate what they can because just a few pounds can make a big difference to a young person’s life. 

We all have the same aim to help our young people understand how to translate what they like doing and are good at in schools into roles and jobs within the world of work. Those jobs are with employers who need the workforce of the future. We all have to work together, to make the two groups come together in a perfect match. A match of youth and experience, skills and roles.

There’s a new movie out just now. You may have heard something about it. Something to do with Star Wars? It’s called The Force Awakens. Well, in 2016, as we celebrate our anniversary we will be taking a look at a long, long time ago. But we’ll also be awakening the force. The workforce. Supporting it, developing it and making it fit for purpose. Because the next generation is here. The future has arrived.

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