Oxfordshire must take a more holistic approach to recruitment or lose the best workers to other regions

• Would-be workers are told about the job but not enough about Oxfordshire
• Survey finds most employers in Oxfordshire think recruitment agencies could do better
• Oxfordshire failing to provide enough affordable housing and facilities to attract workers
• Recruiting and keeping staff is often a struggle in Oxfordshire
• Huge potential need to be harnessed better with joined-up thinking

Businesses and recruitment agencies in Oxfordshire aren’t doing enough to attract the best, much needed, new employees to the region.

Employers need to be more creative and sell the advantages of a living in Oxfordshire alongside the benefits and opportunities of the actual job.

That’s according to the latest survey by Oxfordshire Voice (www.oxvoice.co.uk).

The poll of four hundred businesses, local government organisations and employees in Oxfordshire found more than seventy percent felt the way jobs were advertised by firms and recruitment agencies was too limited.

The findings of the survey were backed-up by an Oxfordshire Voice (OV) discussion forum held in the at Pembroke College. The survey formed the agenda for the forum.

“The feedback from the survey and the resounding voice of the forum are both very clear: Oxfordshire is selling itself short and not doing enough joined-up thinking to attract much needed skilled workers,” says Simon Howson-Green, who co-chaired the Q&A session on behalf of OV.

Oxfordshire is home to more than 30,000 VAT registered businesses of all shapes and sizes. The survey also found that more than half of employers in the area often struggled to fill vacancies and hold on to their staff.

The challenges posed by the lack of affordable housing was one of the key factors blamed for recruitment problems in the county. The forum heard from a number of contributors who said that although the City of Oxford had so much in its favour it was struggling to promote itself as an attractive and vibrant place to live and work due to the significant housing affordability gap.

Armed with the survey results and the open and frank discussion the OV Forum members voted to adopt four outcomes which will form part of the Oxfordshire Voice business plan for change. These included working alongside a range of organisations to offer a more flexible working environment and more comprehensive and affordable housing schemes.

The Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership is a member of Oxfordshire Voice and ahead of further events being annouced, it is encouraging more businesses to sign up and take part in debates. Communications Manager, Rob Panting says, “Through Oxfordshire Voice, our business community is able to collectively give their views and opinions on a number of key themes critical to our county’s economy.

“Not only are we currently one of just three net county areas that contribute to the exchequer – with a GVA of £23bn a year – but we have genuine global assets that are growing from strength-to-strength.

“With this in mind, having an engaged business community is vitally-important and we would urge even more businesses to take part in Oxfordshire Voice events.”

“As employers, we must focus on attracting and retaining talent to the County through promoting what Oxfordshire has to offer,” says Jonna Mundy of You HR, also an Oxfordshire Voice Partner “We need to put the County more on the map as being a preferable place to work and turn the recruitment issues experienced on their head. Oxfordshire Voice is really gaining momentum to achieve its vision, being part of this forum gives you a real business buzz!”

Note to editors

About Oxfordshire Voice:
Oxfordshire Voice is a public and private sector collaboration which aims to provide solutions to the key challenges stifling economic development in Oxfordshire. Oxfordshire Voice was set up and is managed by B4, Oxfordshire’s leading business community. For further information about OV see: issuu.com/b4-business/docs/b4_voice_a4

The survey debated at this forum was sent to over 500 business people in the B4 community and was sent out via email on survey monkey. Other Q&A’s are available on request.

More about the Pembroke College forum:
See also link below to pictures from the Pembroke College forum: flic.kr/s/aHsmr4sJ1A

Oxfordshire Voice partners include the following:

Future Oxfordshire Voice events:
Future Oxfordshire Voices events are open to OV partners only. To become an Oxfordshire Voice Partner please contact 01865 742211 or email info@oxvoice.co.uk.

The formal launch of Oxfordshire Voice will take place at The Blavatnik School of Government on Thursday 17th January. The next OV forum will take place at Blenheim Palace on Thursday 31st January.

Attendees at the forum including representatives from the following:

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Julia Wilson Carter Jonas Oxford

Carter Jonas Appoints Julia Wilson To Oxford Residential Team

Carter Jonas, the national property consultancy, has enhanced its Residential sales team in Oxford with the appointment of Julia Wilson as an Associate Partner based out of the firm’s Mayfield House branch.

Wilson joins from Penny & Sinclair where she worked as an Associate focusing on the North Oxford and city centre areas and has more than 10 years’ experience in the residential sector. She is tasked with growing Carter Jonas’ presence and building market share centrally and in North Oxford, drawing on her knowledge of the markets, her extensive network and strong track record.

Mark Charter, Partner, Carter Jonas Oxford, said: “It is a pleasure to welcome Julia to Carter Jonas. She brings a thorough understanding of the Oxford area and has an exceptional reputation for delivering excellent customer service that is tailored to meet the individual needs of each client. Julia has been responsible for securing the instruction and successful sale of some of the most prestigious properties in Oxford and the energy that she brings to the team will be invaluable as we look to grow our market share across North Oxford and within the city centre.”

Julia Wilson, Associate Partner, Carter Jonas Oxford said: “Carter Jonas offers an exciting prospect and I look forward to working with team to enhance its presence.  Living, working and raising my children in Oxford allows me to have real appreciation of what many clients are looking for. I care passionately about the areas in which we operate and I’m keen to build on my market intelligence to enhance the credentials of Carter Jonas.”

Carter Jonas’ Oxford office is the firm’s largest regional centre outside of London. With teams based out of the hub office in Mayfield House, Summertown, the firm offers a wide range of expertise from across its residential, commercial, rural and planning and development teams together with a number of specialist services.

Carter Jonas

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Blenheim Launches £50,000 Bursary For Local Charities & Projects

Blenheim is launching a bursary of up to £50,000 which will be made available to local charities and projects in 2019.

The bursary will be available to all charities and organisations based within a 20-mile radius of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Interested parties will be able to submit applications from November 1st until January 31st 2019.

Successful candidates will be notified by the end of February next year with funds being made available from April 1st.

Blenheim’s Stephanie Duncan said: “As part of our 10-Year Plan we are committed to doubling our charitable contributions to the community and the new charity bursary will enable us to allocate funding for charities and community projects going forward.

“We will strive to distribute the contributions amongst those applications that most represent a positive impact and benefit to the local area.

“Applications are welcome across charity and community projects, including education, infrastructure, transport and charity,” she added.
Among those who have already benefited from recent donations are the Woodstock Youth Club which received over £5,000, Wooton-by-Woodstock Playground Project which were given £10,000 and Cassington Primary School, who have received £5,000.

Cassington Village Sports Pavilion will soon receive £5,000 and Long Hanborough Playgroup will also receive £7,500.

Other projects which have received charitable donations from Blenheim Palace include the refurbishment of St Mary’s Church in Woodstock and the creation of a new community garden at St Hugh of Lincoln by the Estate’s Gardens Team.

A recently published study by Oxford Brookes Business School showed that Blenheim donated £1.6m to charities in 2017-18, a 52 per cent increase on the previous year.

To find out more about the new bursary, and to apply, Click here

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James Cowper Kreston

James Cowper Kreston Announces Three New Partners

James Cowper Kreston are pleased to announce the promotion of three of their directors.

Effective from 1 November 2018, Meera Rajah, VAT Director, Fiona Hawkins, Audit and Assurance Director and Sarah Robert, Head of Expatriate Services will all be promoted to Partner.

Meera heads up James Cowper Kreston’s VAT services and heads our valuable services for South East Asian clients. She has built up an extensive technical knowledge over more than 15 years specialising in VAT.

Sarah manages the expatriate tax team and deals with highly complex tax issues on a global scale. Fluent in French she has built up a substantial expatriate tax team capable of engaging with clients in the UK in a number of languages.

Fiona leads the firm’s outsourcing team as well as conducting audit and assurance services. She has been with the firm since 2004 and in that time leant her specialist expertise to both the rural and charities and educations sectors. Fiona advises on a wide range of rural businesses from family to estates, food and other agri-businesses.

Robert Holland, Managing Director at the firm said: ‘It is an absolute pleasure to welcome three such high achieving directors to the role of Partner at the firm. I would like to extend my congratulations to Meera, Fiona and Sarah and look forward to seeing how their hard work and dedication to James Cowper Kreston benefits our clients in the years to come.’

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Oxfordshire Voice Forum

Delivery Of Fast Broadband Still Too Slow

Are sluggish data speeds hampering Oxford’s aspirations to become a ‘Smart City’?

Broadband providers in Oxfordshire are continually failing to serve companies across the region effectively or efficiently and they need to get their act together – fast.

That’s according to Oxfordshire Voice (1) which reflects the views of Oxfordshire businesses working in collaboration with local authorities.

Oxfordshire Voice is calling on the heads of the leading broadband providers to meet its partners face-to-face and explain why they are failing to deliver and how they are going to resolve the issue or at least compete internationally through more comprehensive broadband (2).

These calls are the result of a survey by Oxfordshire Voice, which polled five hundred business people across the county. It found more than three quarters of them thought broadband speeds and the levels of connectivity were not good enough for a successful business environment. The survey also found the problem is not confined to the more rural areas. Poor internet speeds and poor customer service from the providers is also a serious issue in the city.

This, and a number of other issues around technology and connectivity, were also debated at the first partners’ meeting (3) of Oxfordshire Voice. The meeting also heard how dreams of Oxford becoming a ‘Smart City’ are being held back by poor infrastructure and low connectivity.

“We are always hearing about weak phone signals, poor broadband speeds and lost data. Our thriving business community deserves better, but confidence in the providers is low,” says Frank Nigriello of Unipart at Cowley. Unipart is an Oxfordshire Voice partner and hosted the opening event.

“However, it’s no good just complaining. Oxfordshire Voice is focussed on collaborating with everyone involved in problems such as this so we can solve them,” says Mr Nigriello.

Tony Hart, of Smart Oxford, which is charged with promoting Oxford as a ‘Smart City’ said, “Digital technology underpins all business (and social) activities nowadays and it is essential that we establish an effective digital infrastructure (connectivity and open access to data) to enable the Oxford city region to live up to its potential as a world-class ‘smart’ city.” Hart also told the meeting that there needed to be far more awareness of the connectivity issues.

Part of Oxfordshire Voice’s role will be to create greater awareness of these issues and any measures in place to help businesses. Oxfordshire County Council’s Craig Bower has asked Oxfordshire Voice to help create more awareness of their services and progress to date, “We consider the availability of fibre broadband to be critical in achieving a thriving economy and communities in Oxfordshire. The Better Broadband programme www.betterbroadbandoxfordshire.org.uk/cms has enabled nearly 80,000 premises, including businesses, to access superfast broadband.

“The programme is keen to help any businesses which still don’t have decent broadband. Although some 96% of premises in the county have access to superfast broadband, the council recognises those businesses remaining without coverage are severely constrained.” To find out more about the programme, visit the website or see more details in the Notes below. (4)
With 96% of premises having access to superfast broadband but 75% of those surveyed still unhappy, there is clearly a requirement for increased speeds to match the aspirations of the business community.

The huge potential of Oxfordshire Voice was demonstrated with the plethora of problems besetting business in the one debated field of digital technology. Many questions were asked and a number of potential solutions debated.

This is just the start but to make Oxfordshire Voice more powerful and heard more loudly we need to grow the committed group of businesses that underpin the structure of Oxfordshire Voice. Businesses concerned about their future and the future of Oxfordshire should contact Richard Rosser, founder of Oxfordshire Voice. Please also visit issuu.com/b4-business/docs/b4_voice_a4 for more information about Partnership opportunities.

Public and private sector support of the Oxfordshire Voice initiative is vital to ensure debates truly represent a collaboration between business, local authorities and elected officials. With support from Oxford City and Oxfordshire County Councils already secured, Oxfordshire Voice is openly inviting the District Councils and local MP’s to join the monthly forums to ensure we are all working together and pulling in the same direction. Confirmed Oxfordshire Voice Partners – (see 5).

The Oxfordshire Voice forum and its survey is the beginning of a new and innovative two-fold strategy for the county. Firstly, to create a collaborative organisation to inform policy and find workable solutions to the many issues facing the business community. Secondly, to make sure the rest of the world gets to hear how Oxfordshire is one of the world’s most vibrant, productive and attractive places to do business.

Other key areas of focus include transport and communication, social and environmental issues, housing and skills. The latter will be the focus of the next Oxfordshire Voice forum, drilling down as to why it is so hard to recruit in Oxfordshire. It takes place on 15th November at Pembroke College from 4pm to 7pm. (6)

Note to editors

1 – About Oxfordshire Voice:

Oxfordshire Voice is a public and private sector collaboration which aims to provide solutions to the key challenges stifling economic development in Oxfordshire.

Oxfordshire Voice was set up and is managed by B4, Oxfordshire’s leading business community. For further information about OV see: issuu.com/b4-business/docs/b4_voice_a4

The survey debated at the first forum was sent to over 500 business people in the B4 community and was sent out via email on survey monkey. Other Q&A’s are available on request.

2 – Competing internationally:

Full-fibre (also phrased as FFTP – fibre to the property) for the UK is 3.5% in comparison to Estonia that has 70%, Portugal that as 85% and much of Scandinavia has 95%.

In Oxfordshire, currently 8% in Oxfordshire has full fibre.

3 – More about the Unipart forum:

See also links below to pictures and video from the Unipart forum:

Video: youtu.be/GKtlygUe4Hs
Photos: flic.kr/s/aHsmukFrNm

4 – Details about the Oxfordshire County Council broadband programme:

If any business does not have access to broadband capable of at least 30Mb/s download, please contact Oxfordshire County Council which has funding from DEFRA to help address the final few percent of rural businesses without fast broadband, and there is also a government scheme for helping with costs of full-fibre connectivity. Please contact broadband@oxfordshire.gov.uk. Details of the government scheme are also available at gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk.

There is also a central government scheme available for businesses and residences to get significant funding for full fibre connectivity gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk. If you contact broadband@oxfordshire.gov.uk a member of the team will get back to you and will provide further details of the government scheme or with details of further coverage under the Better Broadband programme.

5 – Oxfordshire Voice partners include the following:

6 – Future Oxfordshire Voice events:

The formal launch of Oxfordshire Voice will take place at The Blavatnik School of Government on Thursday 17th January.

Register for the next OV forum at Pembroke College here: oxfordshire-voice-recruit.eventbrite.co.uk

Attendees at the forum including representatives from the following:

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