College widens support for SMEs

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A leading local college is widening its support for the SME sector in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly after receiving the backing of a Government funded Peer Network programme.

Truro and Penwith College has been selected as a key partner in a new £9 million ‘Peer Networks’ programme that is being rolled out nationally by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

The programme has been commissioned locally by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and Growth Hub and will facilitate collaboration between nearly 70 Cornish businesses to improve productivity, support the ongoing EU transition and respond to challenges presented by Covid-19.

The college is setting up networks in Hospitality, Engineering and Human Resources and, in partnership with Cornwall Chamber of Commerce, ‘Construction’, ‘30 under 30’ and ‘CEO’.

The ‘CEO’ Network will connect organisations Cornwall Chamber identifies as having a significant impact on the Cornish economy, while ‘30 under 30’ will bring together the brightest, up-and-coming business people under the age of 30.

The businesses will collaborate to find solutions to shared challenges and position themselves for success by identifying new opportunities and developing strategies to adapt to the ‘new normal’.

The leaders involved will also benefit from professional development through one-to-one coaching sessions.

Adele Bull, programme team leader at Truro and Penwith College Business, commented: “The college is thrilled to enhance its support for employers and the wider local economy with the introduction of the new Peer Network programme.

“The ongoing impacts of Covid-19 combined with the transition of Brexit, means this is a fantastic opportunity to further enhance the support we introduced for our partners in the summer, helping businesses to collaborate, adapt their business models, create new ways of working and access new markets.”

The Peer Networks have been influenced by the PLATO Networking programme in Belgium, which studies show has delivered tangible economic benefits such as growth in value-added, assets and labour productivity.

Kim Conchie, CEO of Cornwall Chamber of Commerce, said: “Cornwall Chamber of Commerce has been looking at the problem of productivity in the UK for some time; and I hope these new clusters of people that we’ve invited to come together as peers can think differently, guided by Action Learning techniques, to help unlock the issue. It is a particularly thorny point in Cornwall where many of our key industries suffer from patchy productivity.”

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