If a week is a long time in politics, this month has felt like an eternity!

May started with my co-founder, Matthew Elliott, giving his maiden speech in the House Lords, on the vital role that business plays in society, providing jobs and training for those most in need (see here for the full video). And the month ended with Rishi Sunak announcing the General Election. Hats on everyone, or if you are the Prime Minister – umbrellas up!

Whether you are already madly doorstepping, or frankly bored by the soundbite onslaught, one simple fact remains true: the need for entrepreneurialism, innovation and job creation is more vital than ever. May politicians on all sides of the aisle take heed.

At the Jobs Foundation, our feet have hardly touched the ground. Excitingly, we are nearing the halfway mark for Business Council signups (target 1,000), so chapeau to Jamie and Flora for being particularly instrumental to this success. Another big step forward is the hero work Nick is driving for our foundational research, with three of the five chapters for the final report nearly completed. A teaser of his recent trip to Pembrokeshire is below.

Looking ahead to June, we have masses more planned – more events, more trips, more sign-ups and more speeches. If you have any ideas, comments or queries having read the newsletter, do call me anytime. Our office number is 020 3475 1382. As ever, thank you for all your support – we couldn’t be doing this without your support.

Best wishes,
Georgiana Bristol
CEO, Jobs Foundation

Our president’s maiden speech

On Thursday, May 9th, the Jobs Foundation’s president, Lord Elliott of Mickle Fell, gave his maiden speech in the House of Lords:

“My Lords, I stand here today deeply honoured to be a Member of your Lordships’ House and proud to be sitting alongside my first boss, my noble friend Lord Kirkhope, who gave me my first tour of this place in 1996, when he was the Member for Leeds North East in the other place. Looking around this historic Chamber, I recall him proudly telling me how it was built using limestone from Yorkshire. I like to imagine that the seam of rock each building block is carved from runs all the way to Mickle Fell, the highest point in the historic county of Yorkshire, close to where my grandparents, the Elliotts, lived.”

Lord Elliott went on to speak about the importance of skills and apprenticeships, citing the work of the Jobs Foundation:

“The business community is essential to the skills debate, whether through the provision of training, the establishment of schools or the payment of taxes that fund our public services. On top of this, businesses are also a powerful engine for social justice. Earlier this year, the noble Baroness, Lady Lane-Fox, eloquently spoke about the vital role of business in tackling poverty, especially through the provision of high-quality jobs. This is a cause that I also champion as president of the Jobs Foundation. I am grateful to be supported in this work by my noble friend Lord Harrington and the noble Lord, Lord Mendelsohn, who both serve on our advisory council. As part of this role, I travel across the country, meeting local business leaders and entrepreneurs. The stories I hear are a powerful reminder of the direct impact that businesses have on people’s lives.”

Lord Harrington spoke on the same topic later in the House, making note of Lord Elliott’s speech:

“He has shown skills in so many things that he has done, with his work as a policymaker with very successful groups, such as the TaxPayers’ Alliance and others, for which he deserves absolute credit.…I have remained, and remain to this day, a major fan of the noble Lord, Lord Elliott. The work he has done has always been to do with business and jobs, as typified now by the Jobs Foundation.”

You can watch the entirety of Lord Elliott’s speech, embedded above.

Two JF events on resilience

Over the past few weeks, the Jobs Foundation has run two events on the topic of resilience in the workplace, one a breakfast with Charles Lewington CBE and Michael Lorimer, the other a workshop with Trina Schofield from My Mighty Mind.

Charles Lewington CBE is the founder of Hanover Communications. He started the company in 1998, following a career which included being John Major’s press secretary and working on several national newspapers. As well as being a member of our Advisory Council, Michael Lorimer is the CEO of DCS Group, the largest privately owned manufacturer and distributor of health, beauty and household brands in the United Kingdom.

Michael started by underlining the importance of character led business. “Unless you have the right people, you have nothing,” he told us. He felt the UK manufacturing sector needs to be more positive and resilient overall, feeling confident in itself to produce more of the goods Britons consume here in the UK. Charles identified three key dimensions for business leaders to consider. Firstly, organisations need an authentic Mission, Vision, and Purpose (MVP) developed internally that resonates with employees and is easily communicated to customers. Secondly, the right people at the appropriate levels within the business should champion the organisation’s reputation. Finally, effective collaboration between key functions and consistent measurement mechanisms are crucial for managing and gauging reputational health.

Our event with Trina Schofield from My Mighty Mind was a resilience workshop for members of our Business Council. The session built upon the discussions had at our breakfast with Charles and Michael, with Trina leading us through the psychology of resilience and stress and its impact on individuals in the workplace, before providing constructive solutions for addressing, managing and tackling these problems.

Commenting that “stress is the norm rather than the exception”, Trina highlighted the prevalence of this issue, duly noting the need for leaders and employees to engage in self-reflection and locate the source of such strains to ensure greater harmony and productivity in the workplace.

Trina also led us through ways in which we can build our personal resilience and introduced us to her frameworks for embarking upon this journey. Whilst such a transformation cannot happen overnight, strengthening one’s personal resilience is overwhelmingly important, not merely for the impact that it has within the workplace. Any lack of self-belief can have a truly destructive impact on an individual’s life, which thus makes work like Trina’s even more important.

Our research trip to Pembrokeshire

In May, the Jobs Foundation embarked on the next area of study for our jobs report: Pembrokeshire. We went to the Welsh county and spoke to business people in all sorts of sectors, the local college, Pembroke Dock, as well as a few dairy farmers. The result of this work will be released over the summer, and will feed into the foundational research we will be publishing this autumn.

Owen Lott-Phillips runs a small dairy farm in Pembrokeshire, Wales, just down the road from a village called Lawrenny, which sits upstream from Pembroke Dock. It’s small as dairy farms in Pembrokeshire go, but significant in that it demonstrates where this portion of the agricultural industry across the UK is headed – as automated as technology allows. Owen runs his farm almost entirely by himself.

“Watch the robot,” Owen said, pointing to a large unit that comes down the line in front of the cows at timed intervals. The farm used to be more varied in terms of its output, but it now focuses solely on producing milk.

“I did grow crops for sale. Barley, wheat. But times have changed a bit now. Crops simply weren’t profitable. Skills were on the wane as people retired. Energy prices didn’t help. So, I scrapped my grain drier a few years ago, and had a bit of a shift of focus.”

All the milk Owen’s farm produces gets used by a co-operative called Calon Wen, of which Owen is a director. Calon Wen sells all types of dairy products – milk, cheese, butter – both online and wholesale from a depot outside Carmarthen. They have experimented with different things over the years, trying frozen goods as an example, but have settled into a steady group of products. “There was no Welsh organic brand when we first started the Calon Wen brand in the late 90s. There was a gap in the market.”

Despite the influx of visitors in the spring and summer months, Pembrokeshire is reasonably poor compared to other parts of the country. It has one of the highest child poverty rates in Wales; 36.2% of children in Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire were living in poverty in 2020/21, versus 27% UK wide. But it is also filled with great businesses, doing their best to bring prosperity to the region and to take some of those people in poverty out of it via employment.

All of this great information will be used in our foundational research. We look forward to sharing the final report with you later this year, and hearing your thoughts.

Our business person of the month: Maddy Deverill, Access Group

Every month in our newsletter, we focus on one particular organisation that we feel is a great example of business as a societal good. This month it is the Access Group in Loughborough, and in particular, a Sales Development Representative (SDR) there called Maddy.

Maddy started at Access Group in July 2023, having got the job through a referral. She was at college before working at Access – Maddy wanted to work there so much, she considered dropping out of college to start immediately. Access Group then came back to her and convinced her to complete her studies, promising her a job upon graduation.

She clearly loves her job, feeling very suited to the environment at Access Group. Her plan is to stay long-term, build her career at the company. She won the SDR of the month award recently, being nominated for the honour by other members of her team.

Read all of Maddy’s story on our website.