Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, was once again the guest speaker at Greater Manchester Chamber’s Annual Business Dinner.
Mr Burnham first spoke at the Annual Dinner in May last year, soon after his election as Mayor. In this year’s speech, he looked back on his first year in office and praised the way the business community had pulled to together in the wake of the attack at the Manchester Arena.
“For me, that’s the character of Greater Manchester businesses – commerce with a conscience. Pursuing individual success, but always with an eye to the wider good – true corporate citizens providing good jobs and more.”
Looking to the future, he said: “By this time next year, I want us to have an ambitious and powerful new Industrial Strategy for Greater Manchester that we’ve all helped create and we’re all behind.
“But we need to be honest that it will only succeed if backed by a plan for productivity; a plan for skills; and a plan for transport.”
He highlighted transport improvements including the setting up a 24/7 operational control room to monitor the transport system, the ordering of 27 more trams, plans for a zonal system like the London Underground and contactless payment. But he stressed that congestion couldn’t be tackled with public money alone and businesses need to do their bit by offering employees flexible start times.
On the subject of skills, he said: “We need to deliver a clear message to Government – we can’t have a strong Local Industrial Strategy without a strong local plan for skills.
“We will not build a talent pipeline into the priority sectors of our economy unless we can work much more closely with our colleges, schools and employers.
“Next year, the Adult Education Budget will be devolved. But we need control of the post-16 skills budget and, crucially, flexibility over the apprenticeship levy.”
You can read the Mayor's full speech here.
Chamber President, Jane Boardman, also focused on skills in her speech, talking about the launch of her Future of Skills 2028 campaign, which aims to equip young people with the right skills for the workplace of the future.
She said: “Skills, endeavour, the right opportunities and clear guidance are the things that need to come together to ensure our young people succeed. These are the things that will secure the UK’s success on the global stage, and in turn secure the future growth and productivity of our local economy here in Greater Manchester.”
She explained that many employers were concerned about how unprepared young people are when entering the world of work.
“We see these ‘oven ready’ young people, products of the education system with fantastic grades but who are poorly equipped for the workplace,” she said, “We also see bright young people who have average grades and the aspiration and motivation to achieve more but no idea where to start.
“And then we see those that have no working role models, no grades, and frankly right now, no hope of changing their situation. We need mechanisms to help all of these people achieve their potential, whatever their background and wherever in Greater Manchester they are from.”
The evening also saw Jo Clements announced as the winner of this year’s Greater Manchester Arts Prize for her video ‘Unit for’.
Accepting her award, Jo said: "It’s overwhelming to be awarded the prize in a year with such a strong shortlist and in a city with so many talented artists. The recognition, affirmation and exposure of winning the award has enthused and inspired me to consider my future artwork and career in bigger, broader and bolder ways.”
The Arts Prize runners up were:
- Richard Weston for ‘Between Two Worlds’ and ‘Portrait of my Son
- Peter Davis for ‘Bored lol wuut’ and ‘Son of Zelda’
- Omid Asadi for ‘Paradox’
Now in its third year, the Arts Prize was created to connect contemporary visual artists to the region’s business community, provide opportunities for artists to be recognised on a national/international scale and retain artistic talent in Greater Manchester.
The winner and runners were presented with their awards during the dinner and received vouchers from Fred Aldous and paper products from G.F.Smith.
The works that were shortlisted for the Arts Prize will be on display at Stockport War Memorial Art Gallery until the 8th June.
The dinner, which was held at Victoria Warehouse, was hosted by comedian Andrew Ryan. Music was provided by Twisted Tubes and Manchester Camerata. The evening was rounded off by an after-dinner party with Craig Charles as DJ.