Sussex firms gather to discuss skills and apprenticeships at Open 4 Business 2019

MSDC event featured an exhibition, speaker programme and pop up student-run café

Representatives from over 45 Sussex businesses gathered to network, make new connections and gain valuable insights about how apprenticeships and other solutions could help them address skills gaps in their organisations last week. The Open4Business: Skills and Apprenticeships event was hosted by Mid Sussex District Council (MSDC) and held at the Harlands Road College site in Haywards Heath on 14th March.

In addition to the exhibition, which featured stands from 24 businesses and associations from across the region, there was a speaker programme covering topics including:

  • Busting apprenticeship myths
  • Launching the Young Apprenticeships Ambassadors network and the benefits of apprenticeships to businesses
  • The Catalyst team: a new way of sourcing talent in Sussex
  • The importance of STEM skills
  • How to match talent to your organisation
  • Meeting the skills challenge in Sussex
  • The different options available to fill skills gaps in your business

The programme was delivered by expert speakers from STEM Learning, Steve Willis Training, Gatwick Diamond Business, Sussex Innovation Centre, TR Fastenings, Sussex Skills Solutions, the Young Apprenticeship Ambassadors Network (YAAN) and Chichester College Group (CCG). As well as addressing the skills gap, CCG’s Chief Executive, Shelagh Legrave and MD for Commercial, Julie Kapsalis, also spoke about the Group’s plans for the Harlands Road College site which played host to the event, which CCG aims to open again as a sixth form college in September 2020.

Deputy leader of MSDC and cabinet member for Economic Growth, Councillor Jonathan Ash-Edwards, attended and kick-started the event which comments about the development plans for the Mid Sussex region.

A Council spokesman said: “With a new venue and new theme this year, the Open4Business event was again a great success and it was fascinating to hear the insights of the speakers and attendees on how they are approaching the ongoing challenge of matching skills to business needs.”

“As an area with a period of rich development and growth ahead of it, Mid Sussex is poised to welcome many more innovative businesses and employees to the region. Events such as this help the business community to come together, share experiences and ideas and work together to prepare for this exciting future. We’d like to extend our thanks to the speakers, the exhibitors and everyone who attended the event.”

The event was also supported by a team of catering students from Crawley College, who operated a pop up café at the venue, serving hot drinks, sandwiches and homemade pancakes to the exhibitors and attendees. This counts towards the pupils’ studies, giving them valuable, commercial work experience.

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