All systems go for City Region in 2020

This column has done its very best to avoid politics over the past couple years – and with good reason.

The disconnect between politicians, those doing their bidding, certain sections of the media and those of us who believe we should be left to get on with things with minimal interference from the state has never been as wide.

In the Sheffield City Region there were a couple of shocks in the December general election with seats turning from red to blue in constituencies which had previously been considered Labour Party strongholds.

But was it really a shock? This was the ‘Brexit election’ after all and, as we know, our area came out massively in favour of leave in 2016 – as did large parts of the rest of England.

Now, three and a half years later, people were given another opportunity to make their views known. So, it can hardly have been a surprise when the vote went for the people who said they’d get it done rather than those who wished to either trample on democracy or rerun the whole thing.

I think most people have had enough politics since the referendum to last a lifetime, so hopefully 2020 will bring a bit of stability (and sanity).

The likelihood, though, is that there will be lots of twists and turns along the way as the UK and EU negotiate a trade deal throughout the year once the Withdrawal Agreement passes on January 31.

In the meantime business has to seize the opportunity of a period of relative certainty. The Conservative Party owes its majority in parliament to the northern towns who ditched decades of tribal voting to back Boris Johnson.

If the promised billions of pounds to the north materialises then it’s up to us to make the most of it. Transport is a massive issue across Yorkshire so any monies for this will be most welcome.

Also, business leaders who were waiting for the result of the election to be known before giving the green light to projects now need to put their money where their mouth is.

If the past 42 months have felt like operating with the handbrake on the next 12 could see the accelerator pushed firmly to the floor.

Let’s hope so.

Cheer up, it’s nearly summer!

Apart from dad jokes one of the other perks of having children is passing on pearls of wisdom throughout the year to enlighten their little brains.

One of my favourites – to motivate them for school – is that the year flies by once January (all 85 days of it – seems like) is out of the way.

For kids it’s a succession of holidays almost every month from February half term, to Easter, to spring Bank Holiday and then on to the big one at the end of July.

Let’s not dwell on the fact that February is a tad longer, with 2020 being a leap year, and look forward to the spring when the holidays start coming thick and fast.

Ok, I’m being ultra positive here but that’s what having a new calendar on your desk does to you.

Happy new year.

Firms look to close skills gap

Look out next month for a round-up of an event I attended recently at Kollider where a group of the leading tech businesses from Sheffield got their heads together to see how they could close the skills gap in their sector.

It was a fascinating discussion and one that covered a wide-range of issues, including how best to profile Sheffield as a hot-bed for tech companies.

Hosted by Ben Atha from The Developer Academy other attendees included representatives from Razor, Sheffield Digital, WanDisco, Sheffield Digital Skills Action Group, Joi Polloi, Aviva, Servelec Technologies and Sky Betting & Gaming.