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David Finch 

Leader of Essex County Council


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Guest blog - Cllr Kevin Bentley

A week of firsts for the Essex economy

Monday, 27 November was an important day for the Essex economy. The Stansted Airport College, the first of its kind in the UK, was marked with a ground breaking ceremony, and secondly, the government launched its ambitious Industrial Strategy which will have a positive impact on our county.

Claire Perry, The Minister for Climate Change and Industry visited Essex to launch the ground breaking ceremony at the £11m Stansted Airport College which will boost the economy in Essex by providing crucial skills, training and business opportunities.

I am hugely proud of the college as the idea came from a conversation I had over a  coffee with the then Managing Director of Stansted, Andrew Harrison just over two years ago and so I’m delighted to see it start to take shape.  

The College is a shining example of partnership working between ourselves, Stansted, Harlow College, South East Local Enterprise Partnership and Manchester Airport Group. I am proud that Essex County Council’s £3.5m grant towards the new Stansted Airport College will go a long way to helping our vision become a reality.

The college will provide a skilled workforce that is fundamental to the future growth of Essex. A wealth of evidence, including the Essex Employment and Skills Board’s Skills Evidence Base, continues to highlight skills shortages, recruitment challenges and mismatches between the training that people have and what is required by local employers. The college will help to address these issues to close the skills gap.

I also welcomed the launch of the government’s Industrial Strategy which will be important to shaping the Essex economy. A formal ECC response to the strategy and how Essex can support the government’s ambitions is in development, but it is clear on first look that the strategy is ambitious with planned investment that will have a real impact for Essex including a further £725 million over the next three years in the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) and invest more in Research and Development (R&D).

Investment in R&D is crucial to Essex as medical technology (MedTech) and life sciences are becoming key growth drivers in Essex. There are a number of transformations taking place including the Harlow Enterprise Zone, encompassing Kao Park and the Harlow Science Park which is currently under development, highlight that Essex and Harlow are at the forefront in delivering on the Government’s Industrial Strategy. 

The southern part of the Harlow Enterprise Zone is all set for the development of a high quality science park, capitalising upon the already extensive life science and medical technology cluster in the London Stansted Cambridge Corridor.  The Anglia Ruskin University Medtech Innovation Centre, jointly funded by Essex County Council will be the first building on site, with work due to start in the new year.

Harlow is set to become a national Hub for Science with the relocation of Public Health England to Harlow and will bring together more than 2,000 staff from different sites and will employ up to 3000 staff when fully developed. The £400 million centre will combine all the existing PHE laboratories whilst also serving as the agency’s new headquarters.

This week has been a week of ‘firsts’ – The Stansted Airport College is the first airport college at a major UK airport and the first UK’s Industrial Strategy has been announced. It’s an exciting time for Essex and I am looking forward to witnessing firsthand the changes both will bring to the economy.

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