Published On: 08/02/20232.7 min read

Recently, we had the pleasure of attending the much-anticipated Convention of the North, in Manchester.

The event saw business, political, and civic leaders come together to discuss the various opportunities and challenges facing the north, in response to the Government’s ‘Levelling Up’ plans.

A week on from the Conference, we’ve taken some time to reflect on the learning from the day. With keynotes from Michael Gove the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Lisa Nandy, the Shadow Secretary of State for Levelling Up and excellent insight from regional leaders including Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of Liverpool City Region and Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, there was plenty to takeaway.

As an exporter of British products, we often reflect on the place of Britain in the world. We are lucky to export some exceptional food and drink brands, which have appeal all over the world. As a business linked to the manufacturing and logistics sectors, a key takeaway from the conference was the potential to secure the future of these sectors and Britain’s world-leading status through the transition into a net zero future.

At Smylies, we have invested into sustainability throughout our operations to ensure that we are both future-proofing our business and ensuring we protect our planet for future generations. Just a couple of our efforts include investing in our own supply of energy and consistently revisiting the way we nurture our team and their skills, preparing them for the environmental wave that has already began.

We were delighted to join other leaders for a session led by Emma Degg of the North West Business Leadership Team, to look more widely at the North and discuss the priorities in relation to clean, affordable energy.

The North as a region has the potential to lead in how sectors and industries can transform their ways of working, whilst also transforming the economy and living standards across the region. As a group we came to the conclusion that there are three key and equal priorities for ensuring this can happen:

1. Transforming the supply side in globally significant emerging technologies – collaborating and finding a way for the North to lead on the production and roll out of hydrogen, tidal and wind, amongst others.

2. Demand side engagement supporting shared capacity – reducing energy demand through investment, planning, nature-based solutions and behaviour change.

3. Promoting green skills – skills mapping and career routes to strengthen new and emerging sectors.

Certainly at Smylies, we have looked to all three of these areas. This can be seen in our solar project due for completion this spring, our extensive series of works to reduce our energy demand on site with new infrastructure to enable this, and finally, our requirement to look to skills in the team.  We can see that the impact of new ways of working are transforming the skills needed for business’ success increasingly include those of the green agenda, which we are keen to capitalise on.

Overall, the convention was incredibly enlightening and seeing the passion from leaders across the North to truly advance the North’s development was inspiring. We look forward to seeing the outcomes of these efforts by next year’s conference.