“I am really proud to be part of an organisation that does so much to make Warwickshire the best it can be.”
Alison and her team at Warwickshire County Council (WCC) have a broad spectrum of responsibilities including business and economy, employability and skills, the council’s business centres, as well as spearheading investment in the county’s core industries (such as automotive, advanced manufacturing, digital and creative).
To expand, the Economy and Skills team look to support businesses to relocate to and grow in Warwickshire, which in turn creates job opportunities for residents and boosts the economy. They are responsible for managing business support programmes to drive economic recovery and growth – such as the £1.5 million Adapt and Diversify grant scheme to support a variety of businesses most affected by the pandemic. They have a strong focus on improving employability and skill levels across the county, working with business, schools and colleges to develop skills-centred initiatives along with careers and employment activities. The team also look after the council’s business centres which provide flexible and affordable spaces from fully serviced offices and conferencing facilities to light industrial and warehouse space.
Alison said: “We’re quite a specialist team but we impact across the whole organisation. The Economy and Skills team – made up of just over 30 people – is diverse and the links between the different areas of the council is so important. For example, we work closely with transport to help ensure people can get to and from their jobs, and we work with education to get information to children and young people about their future careers.”
Before joining the council 10 months ago, Alison spent more than 20 years in the private sector in a range of commercial roles including contract management, marketing, strategy and finance within the Energy industry. After leaving the sector just before the pandemic hit, Alison had some time to think about what she wanted to do next. Alison said: “I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, but I wanted to do something that made a difference to the community I live in. When I came across this role, I thought it was the perfect blend of utilising my business skills but in a way that benefitted other people and made a difference to the whole community, rather than just the one organisation I was working for.”
"The scope of the role was also part of the attraction for me. I have been amazed by the amount of breadth and support that WCC and our partners offer for residents. I look at what my team alone does – I had no idea about the number of schemes and programmes that existed – and then I look at the wider council, and I can honestly say I am really proud to be part of an organisation that does so much to make Warwickshire the best it can be.”
Alison joined the council at a challenging time, she said: “I started during the pandemic and I really felt everyone at the council was pulling together to try and boost the economy and help employers to survive. The team had to work tirelessly behind-the-scenes to find innovative ways to support businesses during such an unprecedented time.
“I realised soon after I joined, the pandemic has taught us that a strong economy leads to good health and wellbeing. If we can provide good quality jobs for residents, it’s benefits their wellbeing. The economic health of the county is a real responsibility and it’s what’s motivating me going forwards in my role.”
The Warwickshire Recovery Investment Fund (WRIF) is what Alison describes as one of the most exciting things that’s happened since she joined the council. The WRIF aims to distribute £140 million over the next five years, offering loans and other financial investments to existing and new businesses in Warwickshire to help their long-term recovery and growth following the pandemic. It will stimulate the county’s economy, create over 3,000 jobs and safeguard many more, support local businesses and bring investment into Warwickshire. Alison said: “The WRIF is revolutionary for Warwickshire and is a fundamental part of the Council’s wider COVID-19 Recovery Plan.”
Looking forward, the Economy and Skills team will be making sure that Warwickshire has got a sustainable future, which includes the climate change emergency and helping businesses to become greener, as well as ensuring there are a variety of future employment opportunities for residents. Alison said: “There is strong evidence that people in employment live longer and have better health as they have a greater sense of worth, so making sure there are plenty of good quality job opportunities in Warwickshire is really important. Generally speaking, there’s a big incentive to make sure people are in good, sustainable employment.”
Talking about what she most enjoys about her role and what she would say to anyone thinking of joining the council, Alison said: “I was attracted to the forward-thinking approach to agile working – work is what you do not where and when you do it – and the technology available to support this.
“Everyone has also been so welcoming. I’ve been so impressed by the culture – and I was really keen to work in an organisation with strong female leadership with both the CEO and Leader of Council being female. I’ve found the senior leadership in general to be really authentic - it just makes you want to do good for the organisation and the county. I genuinely feel that all my colleagues at the council aren’t working here for personal gain, but to make a difference.
“Anyone who wants to work in an environment where there’s a really clear link how to better your local area, you can’t do better than WCC.”
The Economy and Skills team is now expanding following a challenging time for the county’s economy and business community. If you have business and commercial skills and you want to use them in a place that matters to people and communities, view the current vacancies below:
Funding Lead (Business & Economy) – https://ce0242li.webitrent.com/ce0242li_webrecruitment/wrd/run/ETREC107GF.open?VACANCY_ID=095943bKTh&WVID=580773AtpY&LANG=USA&fbclid=IwAR3cR8eTZoVtwIFiFnXMgi8adeTc6-Qj3SHxh-Gx0JuKEq6FEigaf-Tadz8
Funding Lead (Employability & Skills) – https://ce0242li.webitrent.com/ce0242li_webrecruitment/wrd/run/ETREC107GF.open?VACANCY_ID=435065bbOI&WVID=580773AtpY&LANG=USA
Inward Investment Senior Advisor – https://ce0242li.webitrent.com/ce0242li_webrecruitment/wrd/run/ETREC107GF.open?VACANCY_ID=025507baRP&WVID=580773AtpY&LANG=USA
The council is continuously recruiting for passionate people to contribute to making Warwickshire the best it can be. To find out more about working for Warwickshire and to view all vacancies, visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk/jobs.