Come and enjoy an afternoon of apprenticeship information and training advice with the PM Training Partnerships team.

There will a presentation from Steve Rushton, Partnerships Director, and Susan Plant, Partnerships Account Manager.

Learn about our training offer, upcoming changes in apprenticeships, information about the Apprenticeship Service portal, apprenticeship levy and financial changes over the coming months.

You’ll have the opportunity to network with like minded companies from across Staffordshire and learn how apprenticeships can help you to boost your business through apprentice recruitment and employee upskilling.

You’ll speak to Assessors at the front end of our delivery, talking you through how new apprenticeship standards are delivered.

Book your place today. There are 20 places available. But don’t worry if you can’t make this one. This is the first in a series of workshops taking place so please contact us and we’ll invite you to our next workshop.

JCB’s award-winning first electric digger will be on display on the first day of the Staffordshire Business Festival on 5th November.

Developed at JCB’s World Headquarters in Staffordshire and built at JCB Compact Products in Cheadle, Staffordshire, the digger has impressive eco credentials and is the industry’s first fully electric mini excavator. The digger has just won the RAC’s Dewar Trophy for ‘Outstanding Technical Achievement in the British Automotive Industry’- one of the most prestigious award in the automotive industry.

“We’re delighted to be showcasing JCB’s innovative electric digger at the Staffordshire Business Festival,” says Chamber CEO Sara Williams. “Sustainable business is a key focus for the Chamber and it’s great to see businesses in the county such as JCB taking a lead on developing eco-friendly products and initiatives.”

Come along to the Staffordshire Business Festival for your opportunity to see this impressive digger.

Perks and benefits are becoming ever more important in the workplace in 2019, according to new research by Staffordshire recruitment agency Appointments Personnel.

From small gestures such as free tea and coffee, dress down days through to flexible working and the chance to gain extra holiday leave, incentives are becoming ever more important.

A massive 92% of employees surveyed told Appointments Personnel that the benefit of flexible and personalised packages would influence future decisions when hunting for a job. Significantly, 62% of employees said that an increase or revamp of benefits would increase the likelihood of them staying with their current employer.

“Traditionally companies simply looked at the rate of pay as an incentive and that is always the key factor but there’s been a sea change with staff now placing added value on their work environment,” said Emma Bonfiglio, Managing Director of Appointments Personnel.

The full report can be downloaded free of charge from the Appointments Personnel website:

Simple Shared Healthcare (SSHC) is a social enterprise based in Stoke-on-Trent and founded by Phil O’Connell. Their telehealth services are supporting patients’ health from Staffordshire to Australia, helping people self-care for their medical conditions.

Stoke-on-Trent IT innovator Phil O’Connell has spent years perfecting telehealth services supporting patients with health needs, from heart problems to mental health issues. SSHC’s systems, known as Flo, Annie and Nellie, were developed by Phil who then assigned the intellectual property to the NHS. Once a shared clinical management plan is configured, the simple and intuitive technology operates automatically, connecting patients to the friendly persona (Flo or Annie) using a mobile phone, apps, landline or Bluetooth devices.

After joining Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce earlier this year, Simple Shared Healthcare was made aware of the Chambers’ Let’s Do Mentoring programme and decided to take advantage of the free at the point of delivery mentoring hours available to any business in the county.

Phil was introduced to Tom Yeung, a volunteer mentor and owner of Success Management, which has worked with scores of companies to help with building successful businesses, change management and strategic development.

“We have grown organically and now needed guidance from our mentor to ensure we have the right structures to futureproof the business,” explains Phil. “Tom wanted me to feel like I could let go of some of the tasks within the business as we have an extremely talented team with the ability to take responsibility. A focus on revenue is critical as all income generated is reinvested for the benefit of patients.”

Phil and Tom have met regularly since Spring 2019. As the SSHC team are home workers, they have taken advantage of meeting room facilities at Staffordshire Chambers’ Commerce House, Festival Park, to hold whole team sessions with Tom.

“Our mentoring goal was to create a successful, long-term sustainable business,” says Tom. “I approached the mentoring with an open mind as I wanted to understand where Phil’s business needed to get to, what roles were people playing and whether there were any barriers to overcome. The scope of Simple Shared Healthcare is huge, and we identified that we needed to get the structure right.”

This mentoring support has helped Phil and his team develop a clear business plan, define job roles and responsibility, and focus on marketing and sales. “The mentoring has emphasised where we had gaps and allowed us to consider how to fill them,” says Phil.

The support from the Let’s Do Mentoring programme has helped Phil develop Simple Shared Healthcare so the business can continue to grow and succeed.

An evening of fun and laughter was staged by Dains Accountants in Stoke-on-Trent to give a huge boost to mental health charity North Staffs Mind.

The Stoke office organised a side-splitting comedy night for staff, friends and family members to raise £2,250 for the independent Potteries-based organisation.

Top comedians Chris Washington and former Britain’s Got Talent star and headline act Daliso Chaponda took centre-stage during the evening which took place at The Genting Casino in Stoke-on-Trent on Thursday 24th October.

The event, which also included a fundraising auction, was compered by experienced after dinner speaker and comedian Dave Bryon.

Fantastic prizes were up for grabs in the auction including a pair of tickets for a show and overnight stay at Resorts World, Birmingham, two tickets in a Genting box at Manchester United or Liverpool FC and a case of Tattinger champagne.

Other auction prizes which were kindly donated included limited-edition plates which were designed by local artist Joanna Dawidowska and produced by Stoke-on-Trent ceramics company Steelite in conjunction with British Ceramics Biennial (BCB) at Spode.

Staffordshire company Landpod, which designs and manufactures all terrain camping pods and cabins, also offered a Landpod weekend break for up to four people at YHA Eskdale.

Two tickets for a box at Liverpool FC attracted the biggest bid of £525 from one of the guests on the night.

All proceeds from the ticket sales were donated to North Staffs Mind, and Genting Casino raised £1,300 alone towards the total amount.

Julia Peat, Business Development Manager at the Dains Stoke office, which is based on Festival Park, co-ordinated the fundraising event and was delighted with the support it received.

Julia said: “The Comedy night was a fantastic event and was extremely well supported by the local business community, colleagues and their friends and families.

“Everyone had a fun evening and we were pleased to raise so much money for North Staffs Mind which is our office charity this year.

“I’d like to say a big thank-you to everyone who attended the Comedy Night and helped to make it a night to remember.”

North Staffs Mind is an experienced provider of mental health services in North Staffordshire which works to promote and protect mental health for all.

Karen Wilson, Chief Executive of North Staffs Mind, attended the evening to meet staff and thank them for their support.

Karen said: “It’s official that laughter is good for your wellbeing. There was a fabulous turnout for the Comedy Night organised by Dains.

“We’re thrilled with the amount of money raised which will go towards the continued provision of vital services for local people experiencing mental health issues.”

Klarius has added new exhausts, diesel particulate filters (DPFs) and mountings to its 10,000+ product range this month for crossover models such as the Vauxhall Mokka and Ford Kuga.

The full list of new components is available here.

New-to-range parts of interest this month include a new full exhaust system for the chunky Ford Kuga 1.5 and 1.6, as well as exhaust mountings for the Vauxhall Mokka 1.4. New DPFs for the Mercedes Sprinter 2.1 2009-2014 and the 2006 Sprinter 906 commercial vans are also included. Plus, BMW’s hatchback 1 series now has Klarius aftermarket exhausts in range for a wide variety of models from 2007 onwards; as does the trusty Skoda Octavia 1.4 2008-2013.

Additional mountings have also been added for the Volkswagen Golf 1.4 along with the Toyota Prius 1.5 – which complements the full range of exhaust systems already offered by Klarius for the trail blazing Japanese hybrid.

Consistent quality across the range is due to Klarius’ in-house research, test and manufacturing facilities located in Staffordshire – which ensure a quality driven approach in all aspects of new product development. For this reason, Klarius is also a key player in supplying OES parts for leading automotive brands.

Next morning delivery is possible in the UK thanks to Klarius’ in-house logistics partner, Autologistiks, which operates a dedicated fleet of vehicles for targeted customer deliveries. A dynamically stocked warehouse ensures both popular and niche components have equal availability.

In Europe, customers can access the entire Klarius range via regional distribution partners in France, Germany and Scandinavia. Every component in the Klarius range is legislatively compliant and offers the same performance as the equivalent OEM part and a 2-year warranty are standard across the range.

Apprentices attended a workshop on Tuesday 22nd October as part of Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce’s new programme, NexGen, which aims to support the skills development of young apprentices in the county. The workshop, ‘Introduction to Relationship Management and Stakeholder Communications’, covered the basics of good relationship management to build long standing relationships.

12 apprentices from a range of employers, including Michelin, Ornua Foods, Stone Computers, Keele University, and Strategi Solutions, attended the workshop at the Chambers’ Stoke-on-Trent office. The session started with brief networking and introductions and then Jonathan Nicholls, Talent Resourcing Executive at Strategi Solutions, explored the importance of stakeholder communications including hints and tips about how to communicate using phone, email and face to face.

NexGen is a series of innovative CPD workshops, coupled with social sessions amongst like-minded individuals, to support apprentices with developing their own local, strong networks and skills. The programme of workshops covers areas such as basic presentation skills, Meet the Leader interviews, understanding your character and learning styles, business communication skills, dealing with difficult feedback and more. This support will enable apprentices to perform better in their roles and provides them with the support they require to progress.

Tom Nadin, Mentoring Growth Project Manager, said: “NexGen is all about supporting Staffordshire businesses to develop the future skills talent that the county needs. Our first professional development workshop was a great success, with the apprentices developing their skills to help them manage communications with both internal and external stakeholders. It was also fantastic to see the apprentices networking and sharing their experiences with each other and we will look forward to welcoming them to our next session on teamwork.”

For more information about NexGen or to sign up today please call 01782 202222, email or visit

A PIONEERING Staffordshire company says a new product it has launched represents a ‘significant step forward’ in the quest for the holy grail of ecologically-friendly packaging – because it reduces their plastic usage by more than 70%.

Stone-based Woolcool has built an international reputation by creating eco-minded insulated packaging for temperature-sensitive products, such as food and medicines.

By using natural sheep’s wool to keep contents cool – instead of man-made insulators like polystyrene – the firm’s award-winning products already reduce plastic use by 90-95% compared to rivals.

But now the firm has gone one step further, launching a new Insulated Paper Pouch which they say provides further reduction in plastic usage of over 70% when compared to their own existing products.

Managing Director Josie Morris said the new paper pouch represents the ‘natural evolution’ of Woolcool products and follows ten years of investment in research and development.

“Woolcool has always been about using natural materials, namely wool, to create chilled packaging products that outperform the man-made alternatives,” she said.

“The wool we use is naturally abundant, recyclable, compostable, biodegradable and re-usable and, after millions of years of evolution, is an incredible insulator that, unlike polystyrene, doesn’t have to end up in landfill.

“We have spent over ten years and millions of pounds testing and fine-tuning our product range, but we are always looking at ways to continually improve. That’s why the Insulated Paper Pouch represents a significant step forward for us and, we think, packaging in general.”

The pouch is the first in Woolcool’s range to adopt a paper outer as opposed to a plastic-coated bag, drastically reducing the amount of plastic used in an already eco-friendly design.

Crucially, the new outer bag is made from robust ‘mailer’ paper, creating a strong, protective envelope that can withstand inclement weather without the need for plastic-based waterproofing.

Even the plastic liner inside the innovative packaging – necessary to protect its chilled contents from moisture created by ice packs – uses 33% less plastic in its coating.

“Due to regulations and current market options, the use of some plastic is still essential,” explained Josie, “as we have not yet found an alternative material with the characteristics that adhere to the standards needed. The fact is that after more than ten years of research we understand the benefits of responsible plastic use.

“There have been some exciting developments in ‘bio-plastics’ recently, but we do not believe they are quite ready for use in our products just yet – but watch this space, my belief is that we are on the cusp of a material revolution.”

Woolcool has won numerous awards for its innovative products, attracting Government backing and working with leading academics at universities such as Cambridge. In 2018, the firm received a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the Innovation category, while earlier this year HRH the Prince of Wales visited its HQ to celebrate 10 years at the forefront of ecological packaging.

Woolcool’s sustainable chilled food packaging is used by Abel & Cole, Gousto, Fortnum & Mason and John Lewis, while pharmaceutical clients include Unilever, Henry Schein and Pharmacy2U.

A pilot to encourage refugee entrepreneurs to establish businesses has been launched in Staffordshire today (17 October 2019).

The pilot is part of a one-year programme jointly funded by the Home Office and The National Lottery Community Fund, which will be overseen by the Centre for Entrepreneurs (CFE).

It will be delivered by the Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, who deliver services to help businesses to start, grow and succeed in Staffordshire

Working directly with the refugees and established local businesses, the pilot will deliver tailored start-up programmes that will take refugees from idea stage to the launch of their business.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said:

“The UK has world leading resettlement programmes which provide sanctuary to thousands of the most vulnerable refugees every year

“It is vital that these refugees are given the best chance to flourish. This project will help them to build businesses and make a real success of their new lives in Staffordshire.”

Mark Purvis, Deputy Director England at The National Lottery Community Fund said:

“By putting people in the lead and championing entrepreneurship, this project, made possible by National Lottery players, will support refugees to fulfil their potential and thrive.”

The Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce will provide comprehensive support for 40 refugees and will build on extensive experience in business support. Drawing on their networks, Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce will also deliver mentoring support via volunteer entrepreneurs. They will also share the results of the project with the network of 52 accredited Chambers of Commerce across the country.

Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce chief executive Sara Williams said:

“We are excited to support refugees from across Staffordshire with developing their ideas, entrepreneurial spirit and business techniques to start and develop a successful business, through our dedicated bespoke support programme.

“The support and funding from the Home Office and The National Lottery Community Fund, together with the support from CFE has helped to make our project a reality and will have a big impact on refugees across our county.”

Centre for Entrepreneurs chairman Oliver Pawle said:

“We are grateful for support from the Home Office and The National Lottery Community Fund in helping us realise the vision we set out in our report last year.

“The Centre for Entrepreneurs is excited to work with the Chambers over the coming year to help refugees into entrepreneurship and to prove that tailored business support strengthens integration.”

The programme will be overseen by CFE and a national expert advisory group including representatives from the Home Office and The National Lottery Community Fund, refugee entrepreneurs, and experts from the academic and voluntary sectors.

The pilot in Staffordshire is part of four programmes across the UK, with others based in Bristol, East of England and Belfast.

Refugees in the UK have access to mainstream benefits and services to enable their integration and departments across Government are working to ensure services meet their needs. This new pilot will allow refugees to move forward with the process of integration, which was the focus of the Government’s Integrated Communities Action plan published in February 2019. In the action plan the Government committed to increase integration support for all refugees in the UK, with one of the key focuses being employment.

As part of that commitment, the Home Office, in partnership with UNHCR, the International Organisation for Migration, Business in the Community and the Department for Work and Pensions recently launched ‘Tapping Potential’ – guidelines for British businesses on employing refugees. The Government is also committed to continuing support for the Refugee Employment Network, whose vision is to enable every refugee in the UK to gain appropriate, fulfilling, paid employment or self-employment.

The pilot will cost £360,300; £210,000 will be covered by the Home Office and the remaining £150,150 will be covered by The National Lottery Community fund. The Centre is working with academic partners to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the pilot so that, if successful, it can be implemented more widely in the future.

A long-term plan to coordinate future development and economic growth opportunities across Staffordshire has been approved by the county council’s cabinet.


The county’s Strategic Infrastructure Plan (SIP) will support the construction of new homes and ensure these communities are provided with job opportunities, high quality transport, leisure facilities and excellent digital connections. It will tie in with the county’s green agenda and the development of the Local Industrial Strategy.


The SIP will give evidence and provide a county wide overview to inform policy makers, potential developers, investors, transport organisations and energy and waste companies. The plan demonstrates the county council’s role as a strategic authority in coordinating future development and the infrastructure needed so that it can take place. It will also support funding bids to the Government and investors.


The SIP ties in with the local plans of all the county’s district and boroughs, along with the city of Stoke-on-Trent. It includes information about planned development in Staffordshire’s neighbouring border areas so that infrastructure can be put in place earlier on in the process and ensure the effective running of the county’s roads and community facilities.


Areas which will see larger scale homes development and employment site construction in the coming years include the Stafford Gateway and Burleyfields, Branston Locks near Burton, Liberty Park in Lichfield, Tamworth golf course, Rugeley power station, Keele Science and Innovation Park, Biddulph and Codsall.


Staffordshire County Council’s economic growth leader Mark Winnington said: “Housing development is an essential part of Staffordshire’s continued economic growth, ensuring we have thriving communities across our county. This development needs to be carefully planned and coordinated, considering neighbouring areas, transport infrastructure, community facilities and leisure provision.


“The Strategic Infrastructure Plan brings together the evidence needed for planners, investors, health and community providers and energy companies to promote the longer-term thinking necessary for future development. Crucially it also demonstrates to the Government and investors that we have a strategy in place to enable us to secure funding we will need to carry out our plans.


“This high-level plan for Staffordshire will stimulate better coordination to ensure new communities have excellent schools, healthcare, leisure and community facilities, in addition to protecting established town and village residential areas.”