Venue: Hitachi Data Systems, The Capitol Building, Bracknell, RG12 8FZ
Contact: Lizzie Rich 01344 352253
The minutes of the meeting on 5 July 2016 were approved as a correct record.
· Rachel Burt, Learning to Work reported that the Careers Event was due to go ahead on the 13 October. 60 companies had been recruited as exhibitors, and Honda had joined as a sponsor of the event. It was reported that a further £2000 sponsorship was needed for the event, but it was anticipated that this would be found before the event.
· Anneken Priesack reported that the content of the Business website had been integrated onto the Bracknell Forest Council public website. It was commented that the business representation would be considered in the development of the new Council website.
· The importance of Vice-Chairman roles and the Nolan principle in the conduct of Sub-Groups was stressed.
· The letter sent on behalf of the ESDP to the Prime Minister, Theresa May had been received and acknowledged. No response had been received from either local MP, Philip Lee or Adam Afriyie.
Presentation from Hitachi Data Systems
Jeremy Horne and Simon Johnson, Hitachi Data Systems joined the meeting to give a presentation on the work and history of Hitachi Data Systems.
Jeremy explained that Hitachi had existed for over 100 years and had been established in the eponymous region of Japan. The business had grown to employ over 300,000 employees across the world. Hitachi had been founded to develop products to do good and improve the world in which they were used, and Hitachi products were used in Power, Manufacturing, Urban Development, Finance, Public Sector, Health Care amongst other sectors. Hitachi Data Systems was included under the Information and Communications Technology bracket of the company which totalled approximately 16% of the total Hitachi portfolio.
It was reported that whereas traditional competitors for Hitachi Data Systems had been EMC and IBM, companies such as Amazon and Google were increasingly becoming competition due to the changing market landscape.
Hitachi Data Systems Headquarters was based in Santa Clara, California, with development sites across the USA, UK and Japan and factories based in Japan, France, USA, Brazil and others.
Jeremy reported on the culture of work-life balance within Hitachi Data Systems, with employees being encouraged to work from home and work remotely. The company was very proud of successful survey results demonstrating their employee satisfaction.
The Bracknell office housed 160 employees, and Jeremy reported that the company had relocated in October 2015 from Queensgate House on Longshot Lane to The Capitol Building to provide extra growth space and the provision of a large test laboratory facility.
The Partnership thanked Jeremy and Simon for their presentation and out of ensuing discussion, the following points were noted:
· The catchment area of Hitachi employees was large in order to fill the specialist skilled positions. Approximately 10-20% of the HDS workforce was local.
· HDS predominantly recruited British graduates rather than apprentices due to the skills necessary, although graduates from abroad had been accepted in the past.
· HDS were concerned regarding Brexit due to the international nature of the business, but had not made any proactive changes in relation to it.
Brexit Update and Future Strategic Impact
The Partnership was consulted on the Brexit impact and any changes since the last meeting.
Partners reported that discussions had been had, but no decisions had been made due to the lack of clarity. Advice from the LEP was that businesses should continue as normal, and should try to instil confidence in their workforces. It was reported that the Higher Education sector had concerns regarding EU funding, and some had put research programmes which would continue past 2020 on hold. SMEs were also uncertain, and had been encouraged to make the best of current opportunities.
15 minutes allocated to each Sub-Group
The Partnership received and discussed the updates from each of the ESDP Sub-Groups and the future of the ESDP. The Partnership discussed the relationship between the Council and businesses within the ESDP, and agreed that the primary drive of the ESDP and beneficiaries of the Partnership work should be the businesses. The Council acting in a supportive role where necessary. It was also agreed that further work with and alongside the LEP should be encouraged.
Business Development Sub Group
Ian Robertson on behalf of the Business Development Sub Group reported on the proposed survey of businesses in the Borough. The group had found it challenging to gather the right contacts for businesses, and there had also been the expectation that the group would resolve the issues raised in the survey. The aim was to start a link between business needs and organisations in the Borough who could meet these needs. It was suggested that the Business Improvement District (BID) project may tie in with meeting these needs.
The Group was looking to co-opt a Customer Services expert with knowledge of survey campaigns onto the group for the duration of the survey project.
The Partnership commented that there was work to be done to collate existing data and knowledge before taking on a large survey project. It was agreed that the existing data would be collated and brought to the next meeting. (Action: James Sackley/Anneken Priesack)
Victor Nicholls commented that the Council did not recognise the need for another survey and that they could not fund this.
Employment and Skills Sub-Group
Campbell Christie, on behalf of the Employment and Skills Sub-group, presented the Group’s workstream. The focus of the Sub-Group was on apprenticeships and encouraging them to be employer-led to enhance productivity from apprenticeships. The Government had delayed the release of details of apprenticeships, and this had in turn delayed the Business Breakfast which had been planned to promote apprenticeships.
The Sub-Group planned to work more closely with schools in order to provide young people with a variety and range of opportunities.
It was reported that a virtual Institute of Technology was being developed for the Thames Valley to encourage colleges to work together and share expertise to provide quality training online.
Bob Collis presented the work of the Infrastructure Sub-Group. The primary aim of the Infrastructure Sub-Group was to develop the Business Improvement District (BID), and there was a meeting with key players on the afternoon of the 6 September.
Derrick Nirmalan reported on the progress of the BID. The Sub-Group had received a quote for £15,000 to conduct an initial BID survey, and had since decided to conduct the feasibility study themselves. RE3, Dell, Honda, Sharp and Waitrose had all expressed an interest in the BID, with HP and Boehringer Ingelheim expressing interest for a later date. The current aim was to engage more businesses and to begin a form of consultation.
The Sub-Group was encouraged to keep an eye on BIDs in other areas of the country.
James Sackley reported on the Bracknell Forest Comprehensive Local Plan.
To date, a Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA), Functional Economic Market Area (FEMA) and Economic Development Needs Assessment (EDNA) had been conducted. A Retail Assessment was ongoing, and GVA had been commissioned to undertake this work in order to set policy.
It was commented that the Partnership would be key in the consultation process, and it was requested that the finished EDNA report be brought to an ESDP meeting and that the Local Plan be included as a standing item on the agenda. (Action: James Sackley)
The Partnership considered the EDNA and the Local Plan as one item as above.
James Sackley informed the Partnership of the Volunteer Passport Scheme, a new initiative from several partners including the Council which aimed to better equip volunteers in the Borough and to reduce duplication of volunteer related training in order to encourage a self-reliant community. The scheme required a further £15,000 in sponsorship in order to go ahead, and if any business was interested in part or solely funding the scheme they were asked to contact James.