Following the Easter break, the Jobs Foundation sprung back into action with a visit to Hartlepool to interview a score of local businesses and other key stakeholders in this important North East seaside town.

This area will become a central chapter looking at coastal communities in our foundational report, understanding how businesses across the country lift people out of hardship, via jobs, skills and training.

Hartlepool is a fascinating town to study, with a colourful history and a challenging present. Happily, some green shoots of prosperity are emerging, with a new age of jobs beginning to creep into Hartlepool, which Nick Tyrone will explore in the report – due to be released in later summer. Watch this space!

In a slightly wider lens view, we have seen the Prime Minister give a speech on welfare reform, looking at the need to “change the sick note culture”, where he stated that “the UK currently spends £69 billion on benefits for people of working age with a disability or health condition…more than our entire schools budget.” For me, this really underlines the value of the Jobs Foundation mission; working to support businesses across the country through job creation and underscoring the essential nature of working, which provides purpose, dignity and hope for millions across the country.

Talking about business, the Jobs Foundation had two days at the Evening Standard SME XPO at the Excel Centre in East London, signing up SMEs to our Business Council (which if you haven’t signed up to, please do so here). It was a fascinating couple of days, doing really what we love the most, talking to entrepreneurs about their businesses and the valuable role they play in their communities. It has been a great experience and we plan to be involved in many similar business events over the coming months, working to build our Business Council to 1,000 members by the end of the year.

Looking ahead we have trips planned to a wide range of businesses who drive opportunity and innovation in their areas; plus, a score of events for our supporters covering everything from the jobs of the future within the creative industries to how our Gen-Z-ers are faring (or as my mother would say, “the youth!”).

Please if you ever have any ideas, questions, introductions (we love those!) for the Jobs Foundation, do email me or call the office (number – 020 3475 1382) anytime. Thank you for all your encouragement and support.

Best wishes,
Georgiana Bristol
CEO, Jobs Foundation

Our trip to Hartlepool

The latest leg of the Jobs Foundation’s extensive research project into jobs, business and bringing people out of poverty brought us to Hartlepool in April. We spent a few days in the seaside town in the Northeast of England, speaking to local business owners, educators and politicians.

One of the entrepreneurs we met in Hartlepool was Harrison Smith, who although he is only in his mid-20s, has already led an interesting life. He was an academy player for Hartlepool United, which led to a scholarship to play soccer in America, where he attended Francis Marion University in South Carolina. Despite his education in the States, Harrison was eager to return to his home town once his studies were complete. Although he did play football at a semi-professional level in Alabama after he graduated, it didn’t take him long to return to Hartlepool.

“Hartlepool people – we get taken away, but we always get drawn back here. It’s very rare that you leave and you leave for good.”

He came back to his hometown in 2018, becoming a manager at ALDI, via a graduate training programme. “It was 60-70 hour weeks, running different stores. It was a lot to take on. I also figured out that retail wasn’t for me. I suppose that job put me in the economically fortunate enough position to be able to take a step back and ask myself what I really wanted to do with my life.”

After working as a development manager at an insurance company and sitting some professional exams, Harrison became self-employed in July 2021, and hasn’t looked back since. We talked about life in the town with him and further, what makes coastal communities unique.

“Most coastal towns in England are just a mirror image of each other. Hartlepool is getting a little more infrastructure these days, to be fair. I mean, if you’d been here 15 years ago, it would have looked completely different. Having said that, the people of Hartlepool are the people of Hartlepool.”

Our interview with Harrison is just one of many we conducted in the town. We will be publishing a report on Hartlepool, with a look at the wider coastal community context, in the summer.  

The Evening Standard SME XPO

This month, the Jobs Foundation exhibited at the Evening Standard’s SME XPO in the Excel Centre, East London, where over 4,000 business leaders, investors, and other stakeholders were in attendance. Established in 2021 by the Evening Standard, SME XPO is designed to support SME founders and decision makers who are looking to meet other like-minded entrepreneurs and access resources to help scale their businesses. Amongst others, companies represented at XPO included Salesforce, Tesla, HSBC, AMEX, Virgin Atlantic, and Octopus Energy.

The Jobs Foundation were lucky to be exhibiting beside Barclays and Dell Technologies, where we were able to welcome attendees to our stand to explain more about the purpose and ambitions behind our charity. Attendees were enthusiastic to hear about our aim to help champion business as a force for good in society, and we made a host of recruitments to our Business Council, with the event being another crucial step in reaching our goal of a thousand members by the end of the year. It was fantastic to be able to visit other businesses and hear about their career and stories, with the common theme of entrepreneurship and innovation being fascinating to hear.

As well as businesses visiting our stand, we were able to attend speed networking sessions where we had up to forty sixty-second long introductory conversations with other attendees over the course of an hour. Whilst certainly being an intense activity, this was a great way for the Jobs Foundation to spread our message to as many individuals and businesses as possible over a short period of time. We were also able to listen to exciting talks from leaders such as Theo Paphitis and Tim Martin, who discussed their careers in industry and gave advice to budding entrepreneurs and business leaders.

All in all, it was great to put the Jobs Foundation on the map as one of the leading charities working with and supporting the business community. As always, we’re on the lookout for any other industry or business events where we can meet business leaders and entrepreneurs, so do let us know if you are attending any yourself or are aware of any others that you think we should attend!

Breakfast with Luke Johnson, one of Britain’s most prolific entrepreneurs

Luke Johnson has enjoyed a highly successful career as the individual behind a myriad of prominent hospitality brands. He previously served as Chairman of Pizza Express, the Royal Society of Arts and Channel 4, and now serves as a director/co-owner at Gail’s bakeries and on the board of Brompton Cycles. In addition to this, Luke founded the Centre for Entrepreneurs in 2013, and has served on the Jobs Foundation’s Advisory Council since it was founded in 2022. 

In the latest in our series of breakfasts, Luke talked to us about the importance of growth and the key role that only businesses can play in the development of Britain’s future. He said at the start that he had been “obsessed by business” since the age of eighteen, and that running your own enterprise gives one “a more independent life than any other work”. In terms of how to achieve this growth, Luke said a liberalisation of the planning rules are long overdue, as well as a need for businesses in Britain to stop overfocusing on what the government is or is not doing and think for themselves. He cited the relatively recent increase in interest rates, ending the period of cheap money we experienced since the financial crisis, and how this creates a new challenge for businesses.

He also talked about the funding of start ups in Britain, pointing out that two-thirds of loans to new businesses now come from challenger banks moving into a space that the Big Five banks have somewhat retreated from in recent years. Finally, Luke made the point that more business owners and CEOs need to publicly make the case for business as a societal good a lot more often – which is the founding mission of the Jobs Foundation.

The next breakfast in our series will be with guest speaker Alison Cork MBE, who is an entrepreneur, author, and TV presenter. She is also the founder and CEO of online brand and founder of Make It Your Business.

Our business owner of the month – Samuel Ola, Network

Every month in the newsletter, we will be focusing on one particular organisation that we feel is a great example of business as a societal good.

Samuel’s company is a Loughborough based venture called Nestwork. It offers a range of services, built around helping students secure jobs through peer-to-peer learning and AI tools. Being university students themselves, Samuel and his business partners saw how often it is that young people don’t get past the first stage of a job application.

“Our goal is to help people find the job they want and hopefully transform their lives. A job is so vital to people’s sense of self and worth, beyond simply the importance of a pay packet. We’re hoping to build a successful company and change a lot of people’s lives for the better along the way.”

Nestwork offers CV assistant service, which analyses job descriptions and then looks at your CV in order to identify missing skills; Behind-The-Offer articles which provide step-by-step breakdowns of how other students and graduates succeeded in their applications to different companies and roles; and Inside-the-Offer content which is there to help people discover what it’s really like to work in a specific job and ask questions directly to current employees.

Read all of Samuel’s story