University of Gloucestershire hosts GFirst LEP Annual Review

University of Gloucestershire hosts GFirst LEP Annual Review

GFirst LEP, the Gloucestershire business group, has presented highlights of its annual review and plans for a ‘future-proofed’ county at the University of Gloucestershire’s School of Business and Technology [19th September 2019].

The LEP, which oversees a multi-million pound investment budget, shared information regarding its Local Industrial Strategy, which will set the direction for Gloucestershire’s future economy, prioritise action and promote local opportunities.

University of Gloucestershire Vice Chancellor, Stephen Marston, welcomed over 350 local business representatives to the event, referencing the University’s own ongoing work to promote talent and enterprise across the County.

He said: “£3.4 million of EU funding is allowing us to continue providing business services across the Growth Hub network until 2022.

“The University’s Higher and Degree Apprenticeship programme is going from strength-to-strength. We’ve enrolled over 300 apprentices in partnership with employers, and this year will be offering up to 20 different apprenticeship programmes, ranging from leadership and management and health and education, through to financial services and engineering.

“We have also submitted our final stage bid with partners at the universities of Bristol, Cardiff and Bath that, if approved, will make a major contribution to the Cyber Central Business Park in Cheltenham.”

GFirst LEP’s Chair, Diane Savory, and Chief Executive, David Owen further explained how the organisation has surveyed over 5,000 young people to assess details of their lives and hopes for the future. The findings included:

  • 55% of young people have been bullied
  • 21% have diagnosed mental health conditions
  • 60% are happy and satisfied

While identifying that young people were most worried about climate change, money and career prospects, the report further flagged why young people might leave the county:

  • 70% would leave for a job
  • 64% because of university
  • 38% would move because of their family
  • 57% to move to a bigger city

“So what do they like?” asked Diane. “The countryside, food, and our young people believe the county is friendly.” Looking to the future she also reported that young people want an environment that is well looked after, places to go, things to do, clean and safe streets, and a hope that everyone can be healthier and happier.”

Cybertech was a key theme throughout the event. “The opportunities for Gloucestershire are of international significance,” added Diane. “Not least of all because of the presence of GCHHQ and our £22 million investment in the UK’s only cybertech park.”

This cyber topic came into further focus with the arrival of surprise guest speaker, Jeremy Fleming, Director of GCHQ.

He commented: “As one of Gloucestershire’s largest employers we don’t just think of ourselves as part of the local community, we are the community. Many of our brilliant people are proud to call this county home.

“We believe that with the right mix of minds anything is possible. We’re working to counter a range of threats from nation states, terrorists, criminal groups and other malicious individuals.

“GCHQ is now home to the National Cyber Security Centre. What we do, and how we do it, is a citizen-facing mission. We can only do the extraordinary things we do if we’re trusted to operate within the parameters of the law. GCHQ is making the UK the safest place to do business online.”

Professor Kamal Bechkoum, Head of the University of Gloucestershire’s School of Business and Technology, concluded: “This fantastic event clearly demonstrates how our University is working in close partnership with the local business community.

“In addition to working alongside the Growth Hub and LEP to create an outstanding student experience through live projects informed by business needs, our ‘Strength in Places’ bid with the universities of Bristol, Bath and Cardiff is setting the stage for a massive agenda in cybersecurity.”

To view Gfirst LEP’s draft Local Industrial Strategy visit: