The Essex Employment and Skills Board, formed earlier this year to help businesses across the county influence the skills agenda, has held its first formal “engagement” event.

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Leaders from 12 Essex businesses, large, medium and small, sit on the board alongside representatives from Essex County Council, the University of Essex and South Essex College.

Four board meetings have already been held but members were keen to hear direct from the wider business community to learn about the skills issues they face.

Companies at the event, held at Anglia Ruskin University in Chelmsford, represented sectors including care, construction, creative, IT and engineering. Besides echoing issues identified by the board, delegates highlighted skills shortages of their own but were broadly positive about the opportunities ahead.

Among the major employers represented on the board are Ford, Stansted Airport, Raytheon and e2v,

Suzanne Jude of Raytheon, who chairs the board, said: “Along with fellow members of the board, I have a strong commitment to bring about change. We are very fortunate to be in this unique position where we have such a range of partners supporting our ambitions.”

Kevin Bentley, deputy leader of the county council and cabinet member for economic growth and infrastructure, added: “The Essex Employment and Skills Board is an excellent way for companies and skills providers from across Greater Essex to come together and really influence the skill and employment landscape.

“The board works to align the skills and training on offer in Essex to job opportunities, which enables more people to find meaningful employment and help boost the economy. The event was extremely beneficial and worthwhile and we look forward to future similar events.”