News in brief: apprentices, Northern Powerhouse, social media

Sheffield: big Northern Powerhouse player
Sheffield: big Northern Powerhouse player

Sheffield becomes key player for the Northern Powerhouse

The north of England’s digital economy is growing, and Sheffield in particular has been singled out by the government to receive a new ‘gain share’ of £30m a year for 30 years.

A recent survey by YouGov and Citrix of the Yorkshire and Humber region found that SME decision makers would like to see that money invested in transport links and technology. Key findings from the report include: 59% of respondents believe access to a fast and reliable internet connection is important to the growth plans of their business; 29% believe expenditure on technology is key to growing their business; and 22% believe strong transport links are critical to business growth.

According to Citrix senior director of Mobility Apps EMEA Jochen Boekel, Sheffield needs to look at prioritising infrastructure and technology to further support start-up and scale-ups in the region.

Boekel said: “The present shortcomings with broadband speeds and transport links are standing in the way of achieving the main crux of the Northern Powerhouse; one connected and collaborative northern hub in which old rivalries are set aside and its core cities work together for the economic prosperity of the entire region.”

Private sector leads the way with apprenticeships

The government is launching a consultation on new measures to raise the percentage of workers in large public sector bodies who are apprentices to 2.3%.

The changes will ensure that the public sector follows the lead of the country’s major businesses and offers more lifechanging opportunities to young people.

Skills Minister Nick Boles said: “Our apprenticeships revolution has already given 2.4 million people the chance to learn the skills they need to get on in life, with businesses leading the way.

“Now it’s time for the public sector to step up and give those same opportunities as we turbo charge our drive to give youngsters the best start to working life.”

Study into optimum tweeting

After the first three tweets of the day engagement levels with consumers will begin to decline, according to a study by SocialBakers looking at 11,000 tweets from global brands.

The study found that the second tweet is more effective than the first, and the third tweet is the most effective, but after that tweets will demonstrate a declining rate of engagement.

As a rule, the more you tweet the more engagement you will get for your brand. However, as SMEs are often pushed for time, they should aim to tweet at least three times a day.

New funding announced for SMEs in the Northwest

The Foresight Group has announced the first close of the £60m Foresight Regional Investment Fund with capital commitments of £38m.

The fund will invest up to £5 million in UK growth SMEs, targeting established, profitable businesses with strong management teams across a broad variety of sectors. The fund is targeting companies based in the Northwest of England, Northeast Wales and South Yorkshire.

Foresight Group partner James Livingstone said: "The region has a large number of underfunded SMEs, particularly within the engineering and hi-tech manufacturing sectors, creating opportunities for Foresight to support strong management teams in growth companies, create jobs, and deliver commercial returns to investors. We are excited to be opening a regional office in the Manchester area and are looking forward to working with local advisers to identify and execute further high quality investments in the SME market.”

Santander selects WorkAngel to increase customer retention

Santander UK has selected WorkAngel to provide its reward and recognition platform to its corporate and commercial customers.

WorkAngel is a UK-based start-up that provides businesses with a digital platform to increase employee engagement and retention through recognition, social communication, and employee benefits.

Founder of WorkAngel Jamie True said: “Employee engagement has become a key challenge facing global businesses, with 87% of respondents to a 2015 Deloitte study on culture and engagement believing the issue is “important”. With poor communication of benefits estimated to cost UK businesses £2.7billion per year, employee engagement should be at the top of any businesses agenda – large or small – to ensure the greatest chance of success.”

MD of SME Markets and Business Development at Santander Corporate & Commercial Stephen Dury comments: “The innovative digital service offered by WorkAngel is designed to help businesses engage and reward their teams, which is why we are delighted to increase the support we can offer our customers through this new introducer agreement.”