THE MEAN VIEW: Getting the strategy right means new ideas

By Ian Mean, Business West Gloucestershire Director

Counties across the region are in the middle of gathering evidence for their new Industrial Strategies to present to the government.

It would be easy to dismiss this as just another plan going nowhere.

As Gloucestershire Director of Business West, I believe it is a great opportunity for my county to really get its act together to drive our future.

That doesn’t just mean driving the economy to increase our productivity.

It means putting everything together in a co-ordinated plan that will make our beautiful county a better place to live and work.

But that will only be achieved if our businesses and our councils really do take this new Industrial Strategy seriously and come forward with ideas that will make them living documents.

Not a thick wad of paper with lots of words and, in the case of Gloucestershire, little real relevance to the daily lives of the 630,000 people who live here.

And I think that our young people are very important to these plans for the future.

After all, it is their future we are talking about and this strategy must be designed to have a lifespan of at least 10 years for its implementation.

It is not here today and gone tomorrow.

I welcome GFirst Local Enterprise Partnership’s decision to involve what I hope will be hundreds of responses to a group of young researchers from Young Gloucestershire and Participation People who want to find out what we should do to make Gloucestershire a “Magnet County” for our young people — because we are haemorrhaging young people at an alarming rate.

They live here, they are educated here and nearly 500 of them are then leaving every year, many never to return.

During Gloucestershire’s 2050 debate over the last two years, I thought our young people were largely ignored.

That is now being put right with the Industrial Strategy placing them at the forefront of the county’s future, where they should be.

And as I wrote at the time of the 2050 project, we ignore the thoughts of young people at our peril.

I well remember 11 years ago, when I was vice-chair of the Gloucester Heritage Urban Regeneration Company, we set up an Urban Youth Forum so that the young people of Gloucester could influence the city’s regeneration.

Young people have great ideas and they must be involved in every facet of making Gloucestershire a “Magnet County”.

After all, if we encourage our young people to stay in the county and develop their careers here, they will bring up their families and help us all to create a vibrant, innovative economy.

Local Industrial Strategies to drive growth across the country

The government announced last December that it wants all regions and counties across the UK to have their own local industrial strategies.

It wants to see each country or region developing long-term plans based on clear evidence and aligned to the UK’s national modern industrial strategy.

The development of Local Industrial Strategies, through extensive local consultation with businesses, public partners and civil society, will build on local strengths.

The government hopes to ensure every community, and the country, reaches their economic potential and creates high quality good jobs.

All local industrial strategies are due to be published this year.

Ian Mean is Gloucestershire Director of Business West, and a former regional newspaper editor.

He is an honorary vice-president of Gloucestershire College and has an honorary doctorate of philosophy from the University of Gloucestershire for supporting business in the county.

Ian is also chairman of the Gloucestershire Hospitals Trust Organ Donation Committee and a board member of Gloucestershire’s Local Enterprise Partnership, championing small and medium-sized businesses.