Business news east Midlands

D2N2 LEP launches new strategy on international trade and investment

The D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership, in partnership with the Department for International Trade (DIT) has published a new report outlining how the region can build its competitiveness, drive productivity and create more jobs by increasing international trade.

D2N2 Global: International Trade Strategy sets out the region’s ambition to increase the percentage of D2N2 businesses that export goods and services.

It identifies key strategic priorities and actions to ensure that the business community can become more confident and active in overseas markets. It also identifies a range of emerging markets that D2N2 businesses can explore further. These market requirements match the strengths in the region.

By connecting these strengths with potential growth markets the region can grasp the opportunities available through the UK’s new trading relationships and being at the forefront of “Global Britain”. The report, which is funded by DIT has been developed to align with Government’s new Trade and Export strategy, Made in the UK, sold to the World.

Elizabeth Fagan, Chair of the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “In 2020, the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership launched its Recovery and Growth Strategy to ensure we build a stronger economy and deliver more investment and jobs.

“With our strategy in place, our strong partnerships and investments in skills, business support and innovation, we think now is a perfect time to look to the future and create more outward trade for our region.

“Our International Trade strategy sets out a clear evidence base on the challenges and the actions required to support our businesses to grow and create new export-oriented jobs for our region.”

Ian Harrison, Head of Export, DIT Midlands said: “The D2N2 LEP’s International Trade strategy represents an innovative approach to aligning its priorities with this the strategic Global Britain vision to help achieve strategic international trade outcomes. We are particularly pleased to be support its launched during this inaugural International Trade Week.

“The support for the development of this strategy was enabled through DIT’s Levelling-Up funding for the Midlands and the regional team has worked in partnership with the LEP in developing their approach. DIT Midlands very much welcome the opportunity to continue to work closely with the LEP to assist with its implementation.”

The International Trade Strategy has been produced by Deyton Bell, independent economic development consultants working closely with key partners across the region.

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Chamber celebrates helping 1,000 young people find job placements via Kickstart Scheme

East Midlands Chamber is celebrating after passing a major milestone – helping more than 1,000 young people to secure a job placement via the Kickstart Scheme.

The region’s leading business representation group has been commended by the Minister for Employment after playing a key role in assisting companies to create six-month work placements for people aged 16 to 24 who are on Universal Credit or at risk of long-term unemployment.

The Chamber is the UK’s largest and – with almost half the vacancies created resulting in a position being filled – top-performing gateway organisation, which lodges funding applications on behalf of businesses to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

It celebrated the landmark achievement by welcoming key civil servants at the DWP to the Chesterfield Jobs Fair, hosted by Chesterfield Borough Council, earlier today (15 September).

East Midlands Chamber deputy chief executive and Kickstart lead Diane Beresford, along with education and business partnership manager Pieter Eksteen, also met with Jo Macdonald, who chairs the Kickstart gateway approvals board for the DWP, to explain how the Chamber has managed to secure so many placement starts among young people.

Diane said: “Young people have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic both in terms of their mental and physical wellbeing, and the significant amount of unemployment it has created.

“The Kickstart Scheme has therefore been a lifeline for them to get the skills and work experience that will be vital to their future prospects. We’re delighted with our track record in converting applications into real jobs, which have played a key role in giving young people the chance they may not have otherwise had while also enabling companies to trial new roles.

“We’re continuing to support businesses and job centres to place young people, as well as look beyond the six-month period to ensure there’s a future roadmap to full-time employment.”

How Kickstart Scheme has benefitted businesses and young people

Nick Hogan, owner of Chesterfield Escape Rooms, has hired six games masters via the Kickstart Scheme – with two other vacancies now live and an application for another position currently being processed – and joined the celebration event with Kickstart employee James Bryan.

Nick has entered into a joint venture partnership with some members of his Kickstart team to establish Chesterfield Games Quarter, which will comprise the escape rooms as well as a video games zone, virtual reality zone and the existing Geeks board game venue. Based in Soresby Street, it is due to open in October.

“I used the Kickstart scheme because I wanted to give something back to the town and create new opportunities for young people,” said Nick, who has given the team a five-figure, interest-free loan to the team to help it run the business.

“But it has also allowed me to get my foot into the market to assess the business opportunity, and has given me the confidence to now grow this into the Chesterfield Games Quarter concept.”

Freelance actor James, 22, of Chesterfield, (pictured above) is four months into his Kickstart placement at the escape rooms business after finding acting work opportunities deteriorated during the pandemic.

He said: “It’s been the opportunity of a lifetime to get involved with a new business, and gain some really valuable experience and diverse skills for my CV that will be really important for my future employability.”

How does the Kickstart Scheme work?

The DWP funds 100% of the age-relevant National Minimum Wage, national insurance and pension contributions for 25 hours a week over a six-month period.

Employers can choose to top up this wage and are also eligible for a £1,500 Government grant for training people on a Kickstart placement.

Once applications are accepted, young people are referred into the roles via a Jobcentre Plus work coach.

East Midlands Chamber has had more than 2,700 placements approved among almost 800 businesses located in Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and other locations. Of these, 2,200 have resulted in vacancies being created and 1,024 of those have now been filled.

Minister for Employment Mims Davies MP said: “It’s fantastic to see that over 1,000 young people have begun their Kickstart journey thanks to the vital support from East Midlands Chamber, in a range of exciting new roles, setting them on the road for their future careers – crucially part of the over 69,000 young people who have now started these jobs.

“Our Plan for Jobs is focused on creating and spreading opportunity just like this around the UK as we push to level up across the country.”

East Midlands Chamber and Chesterfield Escape Rooms support the marketing and economic growth of the town through Chesterfield Champions, a network of over 190 organisations across Chesterfield and North Derbyshire.

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East Midlands Chamber helps create jobs for 400 young people in the region – but urges more to take advantage of vacancies

East Midlands Chamber has helped more than 400 young people in the region to find employment by playing a pivotal role in the Kickstart scheme.

Another 1,200 vacancies are live in the region after the region’s leading business representation group worked with 650 employers to create the six-month work placements. So far, there have been about 150 starters in Derbyshire, 100 in Leicestershire and 170 in Nottinghamshire.

Employers that want to create Kickstart roles – which are aimed at people aged 16 to 24 who are on Universal Credit or at risk of long-term unemployment – often use gateway organisations such as East Midlands Chamber to apply to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for a grant to cover the costs.

East Midlands Chamber deputy chief executive and Kickstart lead Diane Beresford said: “We know young people have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic and the huge amount of unemployment it has created, so the Kickstart scheme is an important mechanism for helping them to get the skills they need to prepare for the world of work.

“We’re so proud to have played a key role in giving young people a chance they may not otherwise have had. After spending many months working with employers on their applications, it’s incredibly exciting and rewarding to see the fruits of our labour as people now start their jobs.

“Businesses taking part are playing a vital role in their communities by supporting and preparing our future workforce, while they also benefit from a relatively risk-free opportunity to trial new roles that could lead to future growth.”

How does the Kickstart scheme work?

The number of people aged 18 to 24 claiming unemployment-related benefits increased by 263,700 between February 2020 and March 2021 – a 110% rise – according to Government data.

In response, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the £2bn Kickstart scheme as part of his Plan for Jobs to help young people into work and spur Britain’s post-Covid economic revival.

Funding pays for 100% of the age-relevant National Minimum Wage, national insurance and pension contributions for 25 hours a week.

Employers can choose to top up this wage and are also eligible for a £1,500 Government grant for training people on a Kickstart placement.

Once applications are accepted, young people are referred into the roles via a Jobcentre Plus work coach.

The scheme is due to run until 31 December – the date when Kickstart jobs must begin – with funding available until 30 June 2022. However, East Midlands Chamber recommends making applications by the beginning of August.

It began making applications at the beginning of October and has worked with councils in Mansfield, Chesterfield, North East Derbyshire and Melton, as well as East Midlands accountancy firm Duncan & Toplis, to target businesses.

Overall, the Chamber has so far secured 2,770 vacancies – including more than 2,300 in the East Midlands – and dozens of vacancies are going live every week.

Diane added: “There’s still plenty of time for employers to sign up and we continue to work with local authorities to engage with companies about why they should take advantage of the scheme while they can.

“We also want to highlight the Kickstart scheme to young people on Universal Credit who might not be aware of it. There’s a very diverse range of roles available – from digital marketing and e-commerce to sales and admin positions – and they should get in touch with their local Jobcentre Plus work coach.”

Anyone aged 16 to 24 and claiming Universal Credit should speak to their Jobcentre Plus work coach. Find your local Jobcentre Plus branch at

Businesses interested in applying for a Kickstart scheme grant should contact East Midlands Chamber education and business partnership manager Pieter Eksteen on or 0333 320 0333 (Ext 2241).


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Chamber explains how region’s businesses can support India during Covid-19 crisis

Businesses in the region are being encouraged to offer support where they can to India during its Covid-19 crisis.

With shortages of oxygen, hospital beds and medicine in Delhi, and many other cities in the world’s second-most populous country, due to a devastating second wave, there are specific urgent needs that could be plugged by East Midlands companies with access to those resources. They include:

  • Empty, refillable oxygen cylinders with between 10 litres and 45 litres liquid medical oxygen (LMO) capacity
  • Oxygen concentrators
  • In-situ oxygen manufacturing plants for hospitals
  • Remdesivir, an antiviral medication used in treating Covid-19

More than 200,000 people are reported to have died from coronavirus in India – although the real figure is believed to be much higher – with 3,293 deaths reported in the most recent 24-hour period.

East Midlands Chamber chief executive Scott Knowles has joined the rest of the British Chambers of Commerce network in launching an appeal, alongside the UK India Business Council (UKIBC) and charity UNICEF, for the business community to support where possible.

He said: “Many of us will have seen the truly heart-breaking media reports showing the devastating impact of the second wave of Covid-19 in India.

“While the UK Government is considering how it will support with much-needed supplies, we believe the business community can step up in the meantime – just as we have rallied before in the battle against coronavirus.

“In our #EMComingTogether campaign launched at the beginning of the pandemic, in which we helped to link up companies with access to PPE to the local and national organisations that needed supplies, we were hugely inspired by the number of firms that came forward during a challenging period.

“Once again, we’re asking businesses to rally round and get behind the campaigns by UKIBC and UNICEF. There may well be companies within our region that are able to help source these crucial items that will save countless lives and enable India to get through this crisis.”

Anyone able to offer support with any of the urgent needs should explain how they can help by contacting the UKIBC at or UNICEF at

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East Midlands Chamber Business Awards return for 2021 with a brand-new category

East Midlands Chamber has announced its Business Awards are back for 2021 – with a new category celebrating ground-breaking collaborations.

The past year has involved great examples of businesses teaming up to prosper despite the pandemic – and such alliances will be recognised at this year’s awards.

A brand-new category for Collaboration Project of the Year has been introduced for the 2021 awards to celebrate success stories of pioneering partnerships within Chamber membership.

There’s also a new-look Excellence in Innovation award, which replaces the Innovation in Manufacturing category as more ground-breaking firms are invited to showcase how they are pushing boundaries in their sectors.

Fresh off the back of virtual ceremonies being held for the first time across the Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire Business Awards throughout November and December 2020, entries are now open for this year.

East Midlands Chamber chief executive Scott Knowles said: “Last year’s Business Awards provided a fantastic opportunity to celebrate some of the amazing success stories witnessed in the East Midlands during what was one of the most challenging years in memory for business.

“It was also a unique event in the history of the awards in that we held it online for the first time, but this in no way took anything away from three truly remarkable virtual ceremonies.

“While we don’t quite know what 2021 will bring, we’re braced for continued disruption followed by signs of recovery – and we can be certain that there will be many more examples of incredible innovation, growth and resilience among our members.

“These awards are a great opportunity to shout about what our region has to offer and the Chamber – along with our sponsors, whose continued support enables us these celebrations to happen – can’t wait to read another set of high-quality entries.”

Alongside the new awards, there will also be a return for the Environmental Impact Award introduced last year, as well as old returning favourites such as Apprentice of the Year, Community Impact, Excellence in International Trade and Small Business of the Year.

There will also be an overall Business of the Year for each county chosen by headline sponsor Mazars. Last year’s winners were PR Marriott Drilling (Derbyshire), Air IT (Nottinghamshire), and db automation and Premier Bowl Feeders (Leicestershire).

The deadline for entries this year is Friday 7 May and finalists will be announced on Thursday 30 June.

Winners will be chosen by a panel including members of the Chamber’s leadership team and board, as well as sponsors, and announced at awards ceremonies for each county at the end of this year.

For more information and to enter the Chamber Business Awards, visit

Enquiries about sponsorship opportunities can be sent to partnerships manager Sanjib Sahota on or 07776 596889.

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