Column: Doncaster needs to bring to live report findings to stimulate economic growth

Doncaster's Cast Theatre.
Doncaster's Cast Theatre.

Column by Dan Fell, chief executive officer of Doncaster Chamber.

Last week the Doncaster Education and Skills Commission launched its much anticipated report, ‘One Doncaster’.

This is a report that the private sector has been waiting for as it comes after a ‘deep dive’ into Doncaster’s education and skills landscape by external and impartial specialists. The role of the Commission was to critique Doncaster’s education system, provide challenge to its educators, businesses and stakeholders, and to make some concrete recommendations for how our borough can better connect its people and businesses to opportunity.

The chamber and local businesses were heavily involved in the consultation process. I have to say that the report does not disappoint and that there is much in it to get excited about. Of its 30 recommendations, I would like to pick out three areas that I am particularly keen on.

There is much in the report about the importance of start-up activity, enterprise and supporting small business. This subject is dear to my heart as, presently, it feels as though everything in the business support world is orientated to high growth businesses only. Every start-up adds value in some way.

I like the focus on arts and culture in the report. Culture plays a massive role in supporting our economy. Plus the skills that young people can learn through engagement with the arts are critical to success in employment and business. Whilst there has been an important push from organisations like the chamber on the science, technology, engineering and mathematics agenda,

Putting arts in the centre of this will produce better rounded and more employable young people.

I can completely endorse the relentless focus in the report on ‘bridging the gaps’ and bringing together the worlds of business and education. Put simply, education needs business and business needs education so it is critical that we get this partnership right. I was pleased to see the commission place an emphasis on entitlement and inclusivity in this area of work as opposed to just prioritising the so-called ‘brightest and best’.

If there is one area of push back from me and the chamber to the commission, it is that the report does not quite capture the acuteness of Doncaster’s skills shortages now. We will be urging partners to take more action when it comes to ‘sucking in’ much needed talent from elsewhere whilst also working to grow its own skilled workforce.

The chamber will be delighted to put our shoulder to the wheel to do more of what is needed and to bring the findings of the report to life for Doncaster.