The Jobs Foundation has been steaming ahead this month with two key articles detailing the work of the Jobs Foundation.

These two articles are a feature in the New Stateman (here) about our President, Matthew Elliott, and the work he will be doing in the House of Lords to promote the Jobs Foundation’s mission, and an article in the Yorkshire Post (here), written by Senior Policy Adviser, Nick Tyrone, about the Sheffield technology sector – one of the areas our foundational employment report will be focussing on. 

Breakfast with Lord Mendelsohn and Lord Harrington 

The Jobs Foundation hosted the first of our monthly breakfasts, featuring two fantastic guest speakers in Lord Mendelsohn, a former business spokesperson for Labour in the House of Lords, and Lord Harrington, a Conservative Peer who was the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business and Industry under Theresa May.

Lord Mendelsohn posited that while it will be a tricky landscape for businesses throughout the year, they should expect things to take a turn for the better in 2025 under a pro-business Labour Leader who is expected to become Prime Minister before year’s end. Lord Harrington said that in the unlikely event of a Labour general election victory (wink, wink), it will be interesting to see just how pro-business Labour turns out to be in government and what that looks like in practice. We also had a range of insightful questions from our guests, with discussion points ranging from how we can improve the UK’s sluggish productivity growth, to how political structures can be reformed to encourage inwards investment, to how attitudes towards our education system impact the UK’s workforce skills gap. 

Our second breakfast this month was with Andy Silvester, Editor of City AM, where we discussed what we can expect from the upcoming Spring Budget, how Labour is working with the City to develop its policy platform for government, and whether the voice and interests of business will be heard as we enter a busy General Election year. Look out on the website for a full report of what the breakfast covered, coming soon.

The Access Group and our trip to Loughborough

As part of the Jobs Foundation’s core 2024 research, we headed to Loughborough to interview over 30 local businesses about the work they do, how they hire and train staff, as well as examining how jobs in the town can lift people out of poverty. This will form the basis of our on the ground research for the second paper in our series around the importance of jobs to individual wellbeing and seeing business as a societal good, this one focusing exclusively on Loughborough

One of companies we spoke to is amongst the largest providers of business management software in the world. The Access Group has over 100,000 customers, over 1,000 employees and has offices across the globe, from Ireland to Malaysia. 

We were taken on a tour of their Loughborough offices to find a British born business thriving. Sales for the company have climbed from around £30 million a year in 2012 to more than half a billion pounds in 2023. The company takes the care of its staff seriously, with numerous programmes aimed at retaining as many of those who are hired as possible. 

Ryan, a member of the team looking at expansion, had just been to Romania, where the Access Group are setting up an office in Timișoara, a city in the far western portion of the country, near the border with Serbia. There are currently 50 employees in that office, looking to expand to 450 by the end of this year.

However, the heart of the company remains in Loughborough. We met George, a senior sales developer, who started working for Access six years ago when he was only sixteen years old. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do at the time,’ George told us. “I knew I didn’t want to go to uni. I had no idea about what Access did when I first joined. I had to learn on the job, quickly.”

George made six million pounds worth of sales himself last year – and is looking to smash beyond that in 2024, with hopes of getting to £10million. It was another great example of a young person finding themselves through a job; having employment be a path to becoming the person they want to be.

We will be media launching the paper on Loughborough in June, with a physical launch in the town during the autumn.  If you have anyone in Loughborough or the surrounding area you think the Jobs Foundation ought to speak to, please get in touch by emailing us at

Introducing Jamie Booth, our new Business Council Director

We are delighted to announce that Jamie Booth joined the Jobs Foundation as our Business Council Director in February. After graduating Durham University with a degree in Politics, Jamie began his career in the then-Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy working on policy and industry engagement. He then moved into consultancy, where he worked with multinational firms and FTSE residents across a range of sectors including tech, financial services, and infrastructure, advising on the political and economic climate, political risk, regulatory changes, and political engagement strategies.

Q: What is your favourite book and movie?      

Robert Caro’s books on LBJ are a go to, but The Great Gatsby is an all-time favourite. For movie, Terminator 2 or Top Gun.

Q: What was the last restaurant you visited (and what did you order)?

Lardo in Hackney (after a visit to Abba Voyage) where I had the most delicious broccoli alla reuben before their gorgeous cobble lane pizza.

Q: What’s your favourite TV programme of all time?

At risk of sounding like every other SW1 politico, nothing beats The West Wing.

Q: Where was your first job?

My first job which I started as soon as I turned 16 was as a swimming teacher, which taught me so much about the value of a good job (and helped fund my rent at university…)

Q: What is special about the Jobs Foundation?

We’ve had so much chaos over the past few years – politically, economically, COVID etc – which will no doubt continue in the run up to a General Election. I think it’s really important that there’s an organisation that can take a step back from this and highlight some of the amazing contributions that the business community makes to our society.

Q: What are you most excited about for 2024?

Elections, elections, elections. Beyond this, I’m super excited to get out there and speak to as many businesses and entrepreneurs across the country. There is so much fantastic work that businesses across the country are doing, and I can’t wait to hear all about this.

Q: Who inspires you?

Fernando Alonso. Consistently proving that if you are motivated, talented, and given an opportunity, hard work and persistence always finds a way to be rewarded.

Our business owner of the month: Ben Widdows from GWD

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.

Good With Devices (GWD) is twenty years old. Ben and his business partner took it over in 2015, in a management buyout – another example of a solid Sheffield business rising from the ashes of a failed one. They spent the first few years of their existence doing mostly research and development, supported by government grants. By 2018, they had a new product, the contactless Donation Station, ready to go. This is a digital machine that makes collecting donations easy for their clients, which are museums, churches and other charitable organisations.

“We spent the first few years doing a lot of R&D, supported by government grants. Around 2018, we reached the point where we had a fantastic new product, the contactless Donation Station, that was ready to go to market.

“We currently have a staff of around a twenty people. Our work culture is friendly, based on mutual respect and a desire to do the best for our charity customers. We celebrate the things that make us different: our talents and skills, our interests and approach to solving problems. We’re all working for a common cause.”

Read all of Ben’s story on our website.