Bicester Business Update

The Importance of People in and to Business…

It is a widely accepted point of view that those who view business as either business to consumer (B to C) or business to business (B to B) are operating under a false belief – the truth is that successful business is all about people and that all successful, well thought of, businesses are based upon ‘People to People’ or P to P.

This was demonstrated during a workshop held at Bicester based British Bakels and run by the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP) to help businesses better understand how they might attract, develop and retain world-class talented people.

With a high-powered panel of four Oxfordshire business people responding to questions from the audience and facilitated by the Chair of the Oxfordshire skills Board, Adrian Lockwood of Integration Technologies, some interesting facts and thoughts ensued; for example, …

In Oxfordshire there are now fewer registered unemployed than there are available jobs; the County has a high-skills level economy; the cost of housing and living, in general, is often cited as among the biggest challenges to recruiting people into the area.

It was recognised that there is a need for greater connectivity between schools and businesses, something the Chamber has always supported and promoted with many of the Exec having either been or currently active as, school governors. The Chamber has also promoted and encouraged the provision of work experience placements, encouraged and provided business speakers for schools and supported careers events/evenings at the local schools. More needs to be done in this area and the new Bicester Technology School is working hard to build a ‘Business Partnership’ to benefit its students and would welcome interest from local companies.

The choice between University or Apprenticeship is very different from what it was ten years or more, ago. Then there were few if any, course fees to be paid by the student and the apprenticeship model was less clearly defined or promoted. Today employers are looking equally for positive attitude and aptitude rather than academic qualifications, so either route is pretty much of equal merit. Apprenticeships leave the student without a serious base level of debt, the possibility of earning while learning along with the possibility of moving on to higher education where appropriate and desired.

In order to retain staff a ‘good’ business should be engaging with its current and prospective employees. Looking to align the values of staff and the business to encourage pride and loyalty while, at the same time, investing in training and appropriately recognising the achievements of the staff. This way the customers receive a high quality of service from a team who believe in the business and the goods/services on offer.

All this is very much ‘People to People’, about building relationships and all the more important in a fast-growing area such as Bicester and the surrounding villages. If you are a business owner or manager and recognise that you and/or your business could improve on your employee or customer engagement then some of our members could well be able to help.

 

Peter Cox – Chairman Bicester Chamber

Bicester Chamber