Economic and Skills Development Partnership

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

9.00  - 11.00 am


Economic & Skills Development Partnership Logo


Bob Collis, Chair of the ESDP

Gerry Barber, Chief of Staff for James Sunderland MP

Councillor Ankur Shiv Bhandari

Councillor Bob Wade, Small Business Champion

Simon Cridland, Bracknell Forest Council

Adrian Davies, Department of Work and Pensions

Stuart Jefferies, Bracknell Forest Council

Nancy Lalor, Learning to Work

Chris Mansfield, Bracknell Forest Council

Maria Sabey, Fujitsu

Peter Smith, Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce

Craig Titley, Chief Executive, South Hill Park

Charlotte Balchin, Bracknell Forest Council

Craig Smith, Activate Learning

Dawn Thompson, ECITB

Georgina Hayward, Bracknell Forest Council

Teresa Morten, JCP Bracknell DWP

Nikki Burns, Federation of Small Business

David English, Panasonic                                            



Action Points






Action Points from Last Meeting


The minutes of the meeting held on 26 January 2021 were approved as a correct record.





Kickstart and Sector-Based Work Academy Programmes (SWAPs)


Teresa Morten, Department for Work and Pensions gave a presentation on Kickstart and Sector-Based Work Academy Programmes (SWAPs).


Members were reminded that apprenticeships through Kickstart were paid a minimum wage salary which was paid by DWP via the employer. Kickstart was open to anyone aged 16-24 who was on Universal Credit, and who was at risk of long-term unemployment. Kickstart offered 6-month employment, and the employer may offer a job at the end of this period. Job Centre staff would be on hand to address any issues between young person and employer, and the National Career Service would support the young person in their CV development.


Sector Based Work Academy Programmes (SWAPs) were unpaid pre-employment training opportunities to give young people work experience over a period of 3 or 4 sessions. The Programme ordinarily guaranteed the young person an interview if there was a position available for them, however this had been eased during the pandemic as lots of employers no longer had vacancies available. 


It was clarified that while both programmes offered support to 16-24 year olds with Government support, Kickstart offered longer-term paid opportunities and SWAPs offered short term experience.


Roles available through the schemes were varied across sectors and responsibilities.


Work coaches were employed to look after the welfare of young people on the scheme.


Teresa welcomed any further questions on SWAPs or Kickstart by email.







Dawn Thompson from ECITB presented on the work of ECITB.


ECITB was the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board. ECITB worked with employers and training providers to support skills development within the industry, and to work with government and education sectors to understand the skills requirement in the engineering construction industry.


It was noted that ECITB had an increasing focus on sustainability whilst meeting the current skills need, and Dawn explained the three pillars of development.


The 2021 Business Plan addressed emerging issues such as providing localised and online training opportunities so that trainees didn’t have to travel as far, and training in steel erecting to address a training need.


In response to questions, the following points were noted:

·       Training was now deliverable over online training platforms as well as in-person classroom training.

·       Gerry Barber and Dawn Thompson agreed to discuss the MP’s plans for promoting engineering from parliament, and in work with companies, schools, and colleges.

·       It was noted that ECITB began recruitment from 16 years old upwards.





Bracknell BID Project Progress


Bob Collis presented on the progress on the Bracknell BID, in Sean Griffin’s absence.


Members were reminded that the BID covered the Southern and Western business areas and had been established following a ballot in December 2019.


Bob shared the following areas of update:

·         Cycleways in the BID area were being improved

·         The existing tunnel link between the Southern and Western business areas was being improved to make it more attractive and safer

·         PCSOs had been provided with BID sponsored patrol bikes, and the BID were seeking places where PCSOs could meet with local businesses to discuss any issues.

·         A website had been developed, which included a directory of companies within the BID.

·         A weekly bulletin for BID news had been established

·         New welcome signs with BID logos had been put in place

·         Green spaces were being developed, to include outdoor gym features, better connectivity, and a coffee kiosk.

·         Walking routes were being established around the BID area to connect it with the town centre.

·         Two defibrillators had been purchased and had been installed.

·         CCTV and ANPR cameras would be linked up with existing Council and Police systems

·         Electric vehicle charging points were being explored


It was suggested that Honda might be approached for their views and support on the electric vehicle charging approach. 





Sub-group progress


Nancy Lalor updated on the work of the Employment and Skills subgroup.


The subgroup had restarted its meetings at the end of March with new members included. The group had considered the following potential themes for their work:

·         Co-ordinating training opportunities

·         Youth employment and skills

·         Signposting employment and training opportunities

·         Training for micro and small businesses

·         LMI and Career Paths


The Infrastructure subgroup had also restarted its meetings and Bob commented that they would welcome more participants although the existing group was well-established.


The subgroup’s main focusses were:

·         Completing consultations on behalf of the business community, for project such as Heathrow expansion

·         Active travel and journey planning

·         Electric vehicle charging points

·         The Natural Estate and Pocket Parks

·         Joint Photography Competition with the Council





ESDP Spring/Summer Event


Bob Collis informed members of the plans for a Spring/Summer event. It was hoped that an in-person outdoor event could be held, to discuss Bracknell Business recovery.


Partnership members requested a focus on wellbeing, and to include the perspective of SMEs as well as large companies. 





Any Other Business


Local Plan

It was noted that the consultation on the Bracknell Forest Local Plan was now underway. The Local Plan would define planning policy for growth in the borough. Once the consultation closed, the formal objections would be considered before presenting the plan to the planning inspector. It was hoped that the plan could be adopted in 2022.


MP Business Club

Gerry Barber informed Partnership members of the planned MP’s Business Club, which would be aimed at sole traders. Membership of the club would be £100 per year and would include a quarterly breakfast meeting with the MP and invited guests, and the Leader of the Council.





Dates of Future Meetings


20 July 2021

19 October 2021