Business Breakfast round up: Thurs 17 March 2016


PrintThere was a great turn-out for the third SevernNet Business Breakfast, with 22 people, representing 18 different organisations, attending. Thanks go again to The Bristol Port Company (TBPC) for hosting, with the breakfast of bacon and sausage sarnies funded by SevernNet Working.


We welcomed several first-time Business-Breakfasters – thanks for coming and we look forward to seeing you again • Emily Gardiner from Accolade Wines • Jo Clarkson from Ambition Lawrence Weston • Verity Willis from Elemis • Joe Docherty from Oasis Brightstowe Academy • Aisling Hurney from Oasis North Bristol • Carolyn Maggs from S Glos Council • Poppy Watson-Brooks from Iken.

Kate Royston started things off with an overview of SevernNet ( and SevernNet Working (

Everyone gave a sixty-second introduction of themselves and their organisations.

Focus on Apprenticeships

James Lott from Working Knowledge introduced this section. His mission is to transition young people from education into fantastic careers that meet the roles available in the industrial community in the area.

Zoe Joyner from Nisbets talked about how they are kicking off an apprenticeship programme, with an initial intake of four apprentices. There were planning an open evening in March and assessments in June, with the new apprentices starting in September. Apprentices will join the contact centre – a good entry point to the whole business.

Will Lansdown attended an apprenticeship open day, went through the selection process and became an apprentice at The Bristol Port Company in 2011. His educational journey hadn’t been so successful but the company saw his potential and supported him to complete the apprenticeship. He is now employed by TBPC in the H&S department where he is taking qualifications and further developing his career. Will is keen to become a role model for other young people across the area.

James continued the session, sharing info about the Apprentice Levy – from 2017 medium-large businesses, with a payroll of £3m and above, will have to pay a levy (additional tax) of 5% of their payroll to fund apprentice recruitment and training. Smaller businesses with a payroll less than £3m will have an allowance of £15,000 to spend on apprentice training even though they do not have to contribute.
Intermediate apprenticeships can be an alternative to college, and advanced/higher apprenticeships an alternative to university. Businesses should see their apprentices as a means of talent acquisition, growing talent and offering a credible career route where young people are paid to train and learn rather than accumulating student debt. Benefits to business include the loyalty you get from investing in people and the deeper understanding an employee has of a business when they have had the opportunity to work in many parts of the it and been part of a supported programme.

There followed a workshop session, with small groups considering the pathways to employment available within their own businesses – what roles and at what levels.

We’ll be working with James to identify a number of pathways which may be relevant to the area,  for example logistics, engineering and administration. If you’re interested in following this up with us get in touch.

Health & Safety Peer-to-Peer Group

Liana Bennett from Elemis, Will from TBPC and Emily from Accolade Wines, together with Lee Townsend from Siniat, have come together through the business breakfasts as founder members of the H&S peer-to-peer group. They are hoping to meet up over the next month to agree initial priorities and develop a programme for knowledge sharing for discussion at the next business breakfast. If you’re interested in getting involved come along.

Business Breakfast Programme

Participants were asked to help shape the business breakfast programme for 2016. Coming up over the next few months are features on H&S, business resilience, well-being & mental health, and the circular economy. We’ll be maintaining threads around the opportunities of developing talent & apprenticeships, and asking participants to help us shape our Jobs Fair and employment challenges event planned for June. Other key areas of interest include transport, local services and marketing.


Thanks to everyone that used the felt tips and flip chart paper to give us feedback. It was overwhelmingly positive – we’re happy to hear we’re on the right lines. One of the questions we asked was whether people would still be prepared to come if we have to charge for business breakfasts in the future. The majority of participants said yes, with only 2 people expressing a ‘maybe’, depending on the charge, and no ‘No’s’ at all.

Next Business Breakfast

Thursday 21 March, 7.30-9am at The Bristol Port Company.

As mentioned above, following three free events, we now need to charge for attendance at Business Breakfasts. But it really is only a small fee and you get to connect with loads of interesting people and organisations.

Charge: £10 for non-members, £5 for members.

The agenda will include discussions on Health & Safety and an introduction to Business Resilience. Of course there will also be plenty of time for networking, 60-second intros, and breakfast!

Please register for the next Business Breakfast, to be held on Thursday 21 April, via Event Brite