Chamber Chat with Wes Johnson
‘We’re all in it together’
2020 has certainly been a challenging year thus far, we’ve all been riding a rollercoaster since March with very little opportunity to slow the pace, take back the controls or to even step off and take time out.
We can never underestimate the pain associated with the personal loss that some of us have experienced or the uncertainty and even fear felt as business leaders over the past few months, which unfortunately may well continue for some time yet. However, for me the beacon of hope throughout this period is the fantastic community spirit which has been evident throughout, manifested in so many different ways. Whether it be providing food to the most vulnerable in our community or supplying laptops to school pupils who are digitally disadvantaged, our fantastic community has stepped up when most needed.
Despite the current challenges we all face, I am genuinely optimistic for the future wellbeing of the Lancaster & Morecambe district if we can capture the cohesion, passion and commitment witnessed in the response to Covid-19 – we are ‘all in it together’ whatever ‘it’ may be!
From my own educational perspective, we have collectively done so much good work in developing the ‘Morecambe Bay Curriculum’ with all school, employer, third sector and university partners from around the Bay. Ultimately this will provide a joined-up pathway from early years to higher education, inclusively, valuing the place we live, our natural assets and ensuring our school, college and university graduates have the skills, knowledge and behaviors valued by our local employers.
I firmly believe that as a community our destiny lies in our own hands, whatever may come down the line in terms of Devolution white papers, collectively we must drive entrepreneurship, innovation and positive change, making sure no element of our community is left behind.
The district will see a huge 25% growth in 16-18-year olds by 2029, compared to 18% across Lancashire. We know young people have been most impacted by furlough and redundancy of late. As our economy recovers it is crucial we invest in the future workforce to avoid skills gaps and young people moving away from the district to gain skilled employment. Recent government incentives to support traineeships and apprenticeships will help employers engage with our school and college graduates in purposeful on the job training, but I believe it is imperative that all employers play a role in shaping the futures of our young people, ultimately to the benefit of us all.
By Wes Johnson – Chief Executive & Principal – Lancaster & Morecambe College
Chamber Ambassador and Non-Executive Director