Steve Wood University of Cumbria, Chamber Ambassador
Both the Universities of Lancaster and Cumbria play a crucial role in the regions community and economy. Our area boasts the University of Cumbria, built on the ideals of Charlotte Mason, who believed all members of society, regardless of background, should have access to the highest levels of education and the University on Lancaster, built on world-class educational and research excellence and both play a significant role in the business and community life of the region.
Both institutions contribute greatly to the regions workforce with thousands of students choosing the stay in the area and apply their knowledge and skills in business and the community. Students, and graduates, bring new skills and experience to business and the impact they can make, especially on SMEs, can be profound. However, it is vital that business and the universities continue to work together through support networks such as Lancaster & District Chamber of Commerce, local authorities and other business network groups to ensure that skills are not only retained but utilised to ensure the skills need of business are maximised.
Nationally, universities contribute over £73billion to the economy and over three quarters of a million jobs*. Therefore, the role our universities play in the economies of Lancashire and Cumbria should be acknowledged, providing opportunities that not only retains skills in the region but also attract high value, secure employment.
The work of students in the community should also be recognised, National Student Volunteering week is in its 15th year, run by the National Union of Students it’s an opportunity for students to volunteer to support charities, community group and social enterprises in our area.
Our universities are at the heart of Lancaster & Morecambe life and the effect of this is a positive for business whose customers come from the staff and students of the universities.
*Universities and Science Minister David Willetts to the Universities UK (UUK) conference.