When Selina Rudzik needed “an extra pair of eyes and ears” to help her recruitment company reach its full potential, she knew who to turn to.

As a mentor herself, Selina already knew the many advantages of joining the Let’s Do Mentoring programme at the Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, but as she states, “Sometimes you reach a stage where you need a clearer focus, to see the woods from the trees. It’s admitting to yourself that this is the case and taking appropriate action. In this instance, the answer really was right in front of me.”

Selina has over a decade of management experience in the recruitment sector, and is the founder and owner of Recruitment Robin Ltd, a fixed fee recruitment and resourcing business supplying permanent and contract staff solutions to businesses in Staffordshire and beyond.

Selina’s extra eyes and ears came in the shape of mentor Sean Farrell, a successful business coach who boasts an impressive track record of helping companies throughout Staffordshire.

“When I first started on the mentoring road, I was looking for support with regards to having a clearer focus, but with particular help on sales and marketing,” she explains. “But after meeting Sean it became apparent that the focus would be very different. Basically, Sean gave me clarity. Clarity in how I thought about myself and my business. He helped me to virtually strip away everything that I shouldn’t be focussing on and helped to remind me that I’m really good at what I do, but also to cut out what I don’t need to be doing.”

Click on the following link to read the full case study of how Let’s Do Mentoring supported Selina: Recruitment Robin Case Study

The percentage of UK firms facing recruitment difficulties has returned to previous highs, while one in four businesses expect to increase headcount according to the UK’s largest survey of employers.

Over half (54%) of British businesses recruited in the last three months, with nearly three quarters reporting recruitment difficulties, as skills shortages persist. One in four (27%) British businesses plan to increase their headcount in the next quarter (Q4 2019), with two thirds believing their workforce will remain constant.

The latest Quarterly Recruitment Outlook from the British Chambers of Commerce, in partnership with Totaljobs, reveals that almost three-quarters (73 per cent) of businesses who attempted to recruit faced recruitment difficulties in Q3 2019, compared with 64 per cent in Q2.

Skills shortages were predominantly felt across skilled manual roles and professional roles, with 80 per cent of construction firms and 71 per cent of transport and distribution businesses facing difficulties recruiting the right staff. In the run up to Christmas, 70,000 transport and distribution roles were advertised on Totaljobs in Q3, receiving an average of 23 applications per vacancy.

Despite concerns over Brexit deadlock, labour market performance and expectations are holding up fairly well.  Only 11 per cent of businesses have decreased their workforce in Q3, with one in four businesses increasing their total headcount. Headcount remained consistent at 62 per cent of responding businesses.

Looking forward, one in four businesses plan to increase their headcount in Q4 2019, and two in three expect to keep their workforce consistent. Just 8 per cent of UK firms expect to decrease their headcount in Q4 2019. Supporting signs of a buoyant recruitment market, over 740,000 job vacancies advertised on Totaljobs in Q3 2019, with over 13 million applications made on the platform.

Although over half (54 per cent) of UK businesses tried to recruit in Q3 2019, just one in four (28%) micro- businesses attempted to recruit. In contrast, 75% of small and mid-sized businesses (250+ employees) and 90% of large businesses (250+ employees) recruited in the same period.

BCC Director General Adam Marshall said:

“Jobseekers will welcome the fact that many businesses are continuing to hire staff, but policymakers should be alarmed that skills shortages continue to bedevil firms – particularly in the skilled roles that will be needed to drive healthy manufacturing and export performance following Brexit.

“The next government must swiftly translate election promises into action and deliver more generous investment in high-quality technical and vocational education at all levels, alongside a flexible, fast and affordable immigration system that provides access to a broad range of skills. It must radically reduce upfront business costs so firms have the confidence and cashflow to back this up with on-the-job training and apprenticeships.”

Patrick Wehrmann, CEO of Totaljobs said:

“The labour market remains one of the strongest pillars of the UK economy, and in the previous quarter, there were almost 750,000 vacancies advertised on Totaljobs, driving over 13 million applications from the UK workforce.

“Despite economic uncertainty, our latest research indicates that the labour market is buoyant, and with over a quarter of businesses looking to expand their workforce with an increased headcount in Q4, this looks set to continue.

“However, it’s notable that skills shortages continue to affect businesses UK-wide, and as such, regardless of wider economic concerns, employers should be mindful that they are doing what’s necessary to attract and retain the best talent on offer.

“Totaljobs research shows that workers are particularly driven by professional development and training, clear progression paths, and a healthy work-life balance. It’s vital that employers put these things front of mind and continue to drive investment in their people in order to keep staff engaged, and drive business output during a dip in the economy.”



Avoiding a no-deal Brexit and delivering an urgent confidence boost through action on infrastructure, immigration, skills and business costs must be at the forefront of the next government’s agenda, says the British Chambers of Commerce.

2020 and beyond: business priorities for the next UK government – compiled with input from the 53 accredited Chambers of Commerce across the UK and the BCC’s growing global network – sets out key priorities that would enable businesses of all sizes to reignite the country’s stagnating economy.

BCC Director General Dr Adam Marshall said:

“The message from business communities all over the UK couldn’t be clearer: the next government must deliver an end to the Brexit stalemate and take decisive steps to improve the business environment here at home.

“To say business leaders are angry and frustrated would be putting it mildly. They are doing their bit for the country – and think it is high time politicians do their bit too.

“We cannot afford to allow our infrastructure to fray, for the gaping holes in our training and skills system to go unfilled, or for governments to pile on new costs that stop firms from investing in growth.

“Millions of businesspeople across the UK pay their taxes diligently, and care deeply about their communities and the environment. They should never be seen as the enemies of progress, and Westminster should never be distracted from delivering the conditions needed for growth, jobs and prosperity here at home.

“Our proposals would help an incoming administration reignite business confidence and investment – and would pay lasting dividends for our communities and the UK economy.”

Key business priorities for the next administration are:

On Brexit:

  • Avoid a messy and disorderly exit from the European Union. Ensure the smoothest possible shift from a transition period to the future UK-European Union relationship. Introduce a temporary SME Brexit tax credit to support businesses that need to undertake specific activity to adjust to changes in trading conditions.

On people:

  • Introduce a simple and flexible new immigration system that minimises the administrative burden on businesses and allows access to all skill levels – including temporary, seasonal and permanent roles – with recognition of professional qualifications.
  • Increase funding for apprenticeships to ensure SMEs can access training, at all skill levels, in their local area and reform the Apprenticeship Levy in England to allow businesses to use all forms of accredited training.

On business investment and costs:

  • Launch a business-led review of the business rates system in England and Wales, and work with the Scottish government to co-ordinate these reforms to provide a level playing field.
  • Extend the £1 million Annual Investment Allowance for a further two years and widen its scope.

On infrastructure:

  • Raise public investment in infrastructure to at least 1.4 per cent of GDP per year – exceeding the funding guideline of 1.2 per cent recommended by the National Infrastructure Commission.
  • Complete the legal frameworks forall phases of HS2; deliver promised investment in Northern Powerhouse Rail; and proceed to deliver a UK-wide high-speed rail network as soon as possible.

On international trade:

  • Ensure continuity of trading conditions with third countries so that businesses can continue to benefit from the levels of market access that they have had under European Union free trade agreements.
  • Secure the future of the UK-European Union trading relationship, minimising cross-border trade frictions and avoiding a hard border with Ireland.

Big Quiz Night

The British Chambers of Commerce has today (Monday) released its latest economic forecast, downgrading growth expectations for the UK in 2019 to 1.2% (from 1.3%) and to 0.8% (from 1.0%) for 2020. Our GDP growth forecast of 1.2% remains unchanged for 2021.

While the leading business group expects that the UK economy will avoid a technical recession and return to modest growth in the third quarter, downgrades to its GDP growth forecast for 2019 and 2020 reflect a weaker outlook for investment, trade and productivity amid a continued lack of clarity over the outcome of Brexit and deteriorating global economic conditions.

Business investment is now forecast to decline by 1.5% this year and by 0.1% in 2020, which together with the decline of 0.4% in 2018, would be the longest period of sustained full-year declines in business investment for 17 years. Relentless Brexit uncertainty and the diversion of resources by many businesses to guard against the chaos of a messy and disorderly Brexit, are expected to limit investment intentions over the forecast period.

UK productivity is projected to be more subdued than in our previous outlook and implies that by the end of 2020, the UK economy will have experienced its weakest decade of average annual productivity growth on record. Anaemic business investment, together with low unemployment, is expected to keep a lid on productivity, with firms expected to rely more on hoarding labour than investing in new technology given the heightened political and economic uncertainty.

The UK’s net trade position is forecast to weaken over the period as companies face the combined headwinds of relentless uncertainty on the UK’s future relationship with Europe, weakening growth in key international markets and mounting global trade tensions.

The BCC’s economic forecast assumes a messy and disorderly Brexit is avoided. A no-deal exit would lead to major, sudden and unanticipated changes for the UK economy and would lead to revisions in our next forecast.

The persistently listless growth forecast reflects the impact of a slowing global economy and increasing trade tensions, but is also a stark reminder of the impact of the political turmoil and lingering unwanted prospect of no-deal exit – the economic consequences of which would be extensive. The BCC is therefore calling on government to do everything in its power to come to a negotiated solution with the EU and to take urgent steps to incentivise investment and boost business confidence.

Commenting on the forecast, Suren Thiru, Head of Economics at the British Chambers of Commerce, said:
“Our latest outlook indicates that the UK economy is set to stumble down an ever more sluggish growth path over the near term, unless decisive action is taken.

“The prolonged nature of the Brexit uncertainty, including the still real risk of a no-deal exit, together with a deterioration in global economic conditions are expected to weigh on investment, trade and productivity – important determinants of economic growth. The deteriorating outlook for productivity is a particular worry as it limits sustained wage growth, living standards and the UK’s longer-term growth potential.

“The continued pressure on business activity and cashflow from historically high stockpiling, loss of business, and costly contingency planning is expected to limit the extent to which economic activity is able to rebound over the near term. Set against this, UK GDP growth will be supported in part by resilient household consumption and stronger government spending. Bold public spending commitments where the overriding objective is stronger growth and productivity can help support the UK economy at a time of significant change.

“The risks to the outlook for the UK economy remained skewed to the downside. A messy and disorderly departure from the EU would palpably increase the likelihood of the UK economy slipping into a marked downturn, particularly given the lack of actionable information that businesses need to help mitigate some of the impacts of a disorderly exit.”

Responding to the forecast, Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, added:
“Our latest forecast shows a number of warning lights are flashing for the UK economy, even if we are able to avoid a messy and disorderly exit from the EU in just a few weeks’ time.

“There’s no dancing round the fact that Brexit uncertainty has hit business investment hard. In addition to reaching a negotiated settlement with the EU, the government should be preparing big new incentives for business investment in the UK, and should reconfirm its unconditional backing for the big infrastructure projects our economy needs to unlock growth.

“Amidst a slowing global economy and continued political uncertainty, the UK government needs to use the autumn Budget to back infrastructure, help businesses train and re-skill more people, and cut the high up-front costs of doing business in the UK.”

Key points in the forecast:
• UK GDP growth forecast for 2019 is downgraded from 1.3% to 1.2% and from 1.0% to 0.8% in 2020 and remains unchanged at 1.2% in 2021
• Quarter-on-quarter GDP growth is forecast to pick-up to 0.3% in Q3 2019, up from the 0.2% contraction in Q2
• Forecast for business investment growth been downgraded to -1.5% for 2019 (from -1.3%) and to -0.1% for 2020 (from +0.4%), before growth of 0.8% in 2021 (downgraded from 1.1%)
• UK official interest rates are expected to remain at 0.75% throughout 2019 and 2020, before rising to 1.0% in 2021, a year later than in our previous forecast
• UK public sector net borrowing is forecast to be £48.2 billion higher over the next three years than predicted by the Office for Budget Responsibility at the 2019 Spring Statement, reflecting marked changes to government spending commitments and weaker expected tax revenue
• BCC expects export growth of 1.3%, 1.3% and 1.5%, compared to import growth of 4.2%, 1.6% and 2.0%, both are weaker compared to our previous forecast
• Labour productivity is expected to grow by just 0.4% in 2019, 0.6% in 2020 lower than our previous forecast of 0.7% and 0.8% respectively. Our forecast for 2021 remains unchanged at 0.8%
• Forecast for growth in household consumption been upgraded to 1.5% for 2019 (from 1.4%), followed by growth of 1.4% in 2020 and 1.5% in 2021
• Average earnings growth is expected to outstrip inflation over the period, with growth of 2.9%, 2.8% and 2.9% respectively, compared with inflation of 2.1%, 2.2% and 2.1%.


Notes to editors:

Please contact the press office for the report, and spokespeople are available for print and broadcast interviews.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) sits at the heart of a powerful network of 53 Accredited Chambers of Commerce across the UK, representing thousands of businesses of all sizes and within all sectors. Our Global Business Network connects exporters with over 50 markets around the world. For more information, visit: www.britishchambers.org.uk

Sisters are doing it for themselves…with the help of female run accountancy firm Premier Tax Solutions.

 The North Staffordshire firm, led by Emily Precious and Vanessa Fuller, have clinched a deal to work as the official accountant for the annual the Women of the Year Awards.

“Promoting women in business is, of course, close to our hearts at Premier Tax Solutions and we are delighted to get involved with the Women of the Year Awards,” said Vanessa.

“Just looking back at the past winners is inspiring as is the organisations Board, with names such as Baroness Helen Newlove and former TV “dragon” Jenny Campbell. The event has strong Staffordshire links thanks to Zalena Vandrewala, a Senior Associate at Freeths, in Stoke. We have a long association with Zalena as she has mentored Emily and me as we have built the Premier Tax Solutions team. Zalena is a true friend and a wise source of advice for us.

“The Women of the Year Awards are fabulous and it is a not for profit organisation with surplus funds passed to charities. The directors give their time for free and they have promoted some incredibly talented women over the years.”

Director and Chair, Zalena Vandrewala said “We welcome Premier Tax Solutions to the support team for The Women of the Year Luncheon & Awards and recognise their achievements as a growing accountancy practice, led by two strong female entrepreneurs.

“I have mentored Vanessa and Emily throughout the continued expansion of Premier Tax Solutions. They are tenacious, commercially minded business women who have driven growth and established a modern and forward thinking company. We are proud to work alongside them to deliver these national awards. 

Premier Tax Solutions was founded by Emily and Vanessa six years ago when they were both just 26-years-old. The duo have grown the firm to a team of six and have offices in Cheadle, Staffordshire Moorlands, and Shelton, Stoke-on-Trent.

Vanessa added: “2019 has been incredibly busy so far. Premier Tax Solutions has gained a reputation for Cloud accountancy, we are a Gold provider with Xero and this has helped our business to grow, particularly this year with the new HMRC Making Tax Digital requirements for companies.”

Opening their headquarters at the Daisy Bank Business Centre, Cheadle, in 2018, has helped to diversify Premier Tax Solutions customer base and the business has plans to expand to a team of eight.


International Road, Rescue and Trauma Consultancy Ltd are a team of experts from the Rescue and Medical services and the Military who are now available to deliver Rescue and Trauma training globally and locally here in Staffordshire.

The team offer a brand new concept to deliver training not only to rescue workers, but also to organisations who work in remote areas or under developed countries where local response arrangements are insufficient. Organisations are provided with the skill set to be able to rescue and treat themselves.

In addition, all trainers have relevant teaching qualifications in order to impart their knowledge to others in a relaxed yet professional manner. Using Yarnfield Park Training and Conference Centre here in Staffordshire as one of the training centres, RTTC are now working with multiple organisations globally who recognise the benefit of this approach.

For more information on the bespoke training available, please call 07760 168767



Staffordshire University Associate Professor and Chair of Platform, Peter Rudge, has been invited to join the World Economic Forum (WEF) Expert Network of global thought leaders.

 The WEF is a not-for-profit organisation headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland which brings together influential leaders from all over the world to help shape global, regional, and industry agendas, and effectuate positive change. 

 Members, who are invited through nomination, represent businesses, academic institutions, and government bodies that are among the world’s top innovators, disruptors, and regional champions – and who help their respective economies thrive and contribute to societal prosperity.  Famous members include Sir David Attenborough, Sir Richard Branson,, and UN Secretary General Antonio Gutteres.

 A BAFTA member and named in the Creative England list of top 50 leaders and innovators, Peter has been leading the growth of the digital creative industries in Stoke on Trent and Staffordshire through Platform, the region’s moving image cluster. Peter said: “I’m absolutely thrilled and honoured to have been asked to join the WEF Expert Network and to have my voice heard amongst those of other global leaders from across industry, academia, government and civil society.

“It is such a fantastic opportunity to be a part of shaping our response to the significant challenges we face as a society – whether that’s here in Stoke on Trent or across the globe. I’m very much looking forward to meeting some of the other expert members and to being an active part of the WEF’s work both now and in the future.”

The WEF holds its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland where members and world leaders gather to contribute their expertise and thought leadership on the most important global issues and developments of our time.


Hanley Economic Building Society has been awarded 3-star accreditation from Best Companies and has been identified as one of the UK’s best small companies to work for in 2019 by the Sunday Times.

On Wednesday 20th February 2019, team members headed to a black tie dinner in London with fellow small companies and not-for-profits to collect the award and to toast the fantastic achievement.

A coveted award nationally, the 3-star accreditation from Best Companies displays an organisations’ employees are truly engaged, “they’re happier, more productive and more invested in your organisation’s success” and shows an exceptional standard of workplace engagement.

Consistently appearing in the Best Companies list, the Society clearly displays an ongoing commitment to colleagues. Mark Selby, CEO of Hanley Economic Society said; “As a CEO it’s deeply important to me to create a great place to work. People forget the numbers but remember what it’s like to work with you. We’ve tried to create an environment where people feel valued and supported by their colleagues, paid fairly and invested in”.

The Society also encourages staff to give back to the community by offering up to 4 of their working days to volunteer for local charitable courses, supports their future by offering an enhanced pension scheme and everyone receives their birthday off.

Hunter Heywood Ltd, Newcastle-under-Lyme’s newest recruitment agency, has joined Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce.

“It’s been a bit of a whirlwind for us since launching just over three weeks ago, but joining the Chambers of Commerce was a priority for us from day one,” said Ashley Heywood, Co-founder and Marketing & Tech Director. “In addition to accessing well-organised, enlightening events and much more, membership with the Chambers also reinforces our desire to build long-term relationships with local businesses.”

Hunter Heywood Ltd was established by Robbie Hunter and Ashley Heywood after securing investment from three successful entrepreneurs. With over 20 years’ experience at management level in recruitment, Robbie will lead the delivery team and deliver recruitment services to businesses of all sizes and sectors.