South West business chief, David Ralph has highlighted his priorities for growing the economy of South West England in a speech to the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) annual regional conference in Exeter.
Mr Ralph, who heads the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP); an organisation aimed at growing businesses across the region, highlighted concerns around increasing numbers of vacancies and a lack of access to skilled staff. To combat these imbalances, the LEP has committed to working with the education sector to deliver the skills that the economy needs.
Mr. Ralph said: “The labour market is a big issue, so let’s work together to get more young people joining the bookkeeping profession. Your digital skills play a significant role in improving the uptake of technology amongst small businesses and supporting their financial resilience.”
Mr Ralph remained optimistic about the outlook for business in the South West, citing his ambition to harness the region’s “natural capital,” but acknowledged that the next year could prove difficult for businesses given the pandemic and the levels of debt that many have had to take on to survive. He highlighted the need for improved financial management and a way of encouraging the region’s 80,000 businesses to grow.
Caryl Gibson FICB, South West Branch Chair of ICB said: “ICB bookkeepers have a unique insight into the local business landscape, and an in-depth understanding of the businesses they work so closely with. We hope that we can feed this knowledge into the work of the LEP to improve conditions for businesses across the South West, and support their growth and increased productivity with sound financial management.”