At a recent meeting titled Doing Business in Somerset, Jonathan Langdon, a board member of Into Somerset and chairman of Milsted Langdon, commented on the rising costs of education and the need to retain skills in the county. He said: “More and more youngsters nowadays are thinking seriously about whether they want to run up a massive bill by going to university. Typically they are in danger of running up a £40,000 to £50,000 debt and that’s a huge amount to have around their neck. If they have the chance of staying at home and getting a degree living at home, it can make a substantial difference.” He also urged businesses to get involved. “If every business thought of taking one person in to give them experience, we could make a huge difference,” he said.
Jonathan then encouraged businesses to engage with young people in whatever way they could. “Approach your local school to see if there’s something you can do in conjunction with them. There’s an immense amount of talent to tap into. Not everyone wants to go away to the bright lights. A number of people want to stay locally and we have to have the right opportunities for them to do so.” He added that for people who want to spread their wings, “we have to accept they may leave us for a while but, if they come back, they come back with skills that have been enhanced by additional experience elsewhere.”
On the subject of attracting people from further afield to work in Somerset, Jonathan commented: “we have to make sure we are offering the right sort of package for those people.”
In conclusion, Jonathan confirmed that businesses need to think about their long-term plans. “It’s easy to say ‘I can only afford X amount’ but you’re investing in staff, not just paying them. Investing in them will get you a return.”