Jake Berry at the NPH Business Summit
Northern Powerhouse minister Jake Berry stole the spotlight on the final day of the Northern Powerhouse Business Summit, with some exciting developments to further advance the North.
Jake took to the stage to discuss the Northern Powerhouse 2.0, which is about releasing the potential of the people across the whole North.
"Strong leadership is nothing new here," he began, citing a council created all the way back in 1472 b to increase prosperity for the North. "For the nation to succeed, the North must prosper.
"A strong partnership between leaders and businesses will build unstoppable momentum behind the movement."
Launched in 2014 by George Osborne, with an initial vision to take power money and influence form London and Whitehall and returning it to the North, the Northern Powerhouse worked to return the tools to drive growth and prosperity to the North.
"Four years on we have created four metro mayors, working across party politics to drove forward this agenda. They have power and influence over £10bn to drive forward the economy.
"In the Borderlands we are negotiating an exciting growth deal between Northumberland, Cumbria, Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish borders. These are an acknowledgement of what we have always known - that we have the power to shape our economic future and our destiny."
"Today," Jake continued, "I’m announcing a new network of business leaders for the North; the NP11." Formed of the LEP chairs, the NP11 has been givenhalf a million pounds to form its secretariat. It will be reporting directly to Ministers, essentially forming the core of a council for the North, working with government to drive forward prosperity.
"This can be a direct line for Northern voices into government. As a minister I’m not that voice, but with the NP11 I can provide that voice.
"I have lived and worked in the North my whole life. That’s why I know it’s those who live, and work, here who know what’s best to drive the North. Our voice must be heard at the heart of government."
"As we get ready to leave the EU, it’s never been more important to show the world what we can do in the North of England." Direct foreign investment is twice the national average, Jake says, creating 15,000 new jobs, and 50 trade missions have taken place with more in pipeline. "We must maintain this momentum; Mike Blackburn, chair of the Greater Manchester LEP, will lead the trade and investment forum, reporting to and sitting on the NP11."
Raising educational attainment is the key to our future prosperity, Jake said, reminding us of the £70m committed to the school strategy originally, and future adult education funding going to metro Mayors. 35% of all Apprenticeships start in the Powerhouse, although we are 25% of the national workforce. And he stressed that we must continue to punch above our weight.
SMEs make up 60% of employment, but recruit just 24% of apprentices, presenting a huge opportunity for future skills growth. And so the government are trialling a new approach in the North - with a focus on working with the National Apprenticeship Service to engage those who have employed an apprentice, working to dispel the myth that apprentices are too burdensome for an SME. The aim is to reach 5,000 SMEs who have not previously engaged.
"Strong leadership must mean diverse leadership," Jake said, "and there is no better time to narrow gender inequality." Lead by work already being undertaken by Andy Burnham, Mayor of Manchester, the North will lead the way to work with businesses to understand why motherhood presents to many challenges to careers. Supported by Simone Roche of the Northern Power Women, businesses will be asked to pledge to end discrimination associated with parenthood.
"I and Simone intend to work with leaders across the North to encourage them to get behind the pledge. I want to make the North of England the most inclusive economic region of our United Kingdom. Let’s commit to advancing gender equality and be an exemplar of inclusive leadership," Jake said.
"It's not about what the Government can do; it's about what we can do together, to drive the hopes and ambition of the next generation," Jake concluded.
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