A massive success from the Business to College Networking Event by Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce

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“Connecting the workforce of tomorrow to the employers of today”

Back in November 2023, Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce helped to organise a networking opportunity in partnership with East Sussex College Group and the RISE Hastings programme (delivered by Let's Do Business Group). Businesses in Hastings and the surrounding areas were invited to join this event which planned to connect them to the College’s student base. Following the success of the first event, members were invited again a second time in April 2024.

After listening to member feedback about wanting to engage with colleges but being unsure where to start and the language which played a part in separating them, Sean Dennis, Hastings Chamber Director, sparked the idea to introduce the two. The event which was titled “Business to College Networking” invited our members to come to the college to talk to students, lecturers and curriculum heads and showcase their businesses and what career opportunities they had. These businesses were drawn from a variety of sectors including Business Support, Construction, Manufacturing/Engineering, Healthcare/Early years, Hospitality/Service, IT/Creative.

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The main goals of this event were to grow connections, shape curriculum intent and integrate employers with curriculum alongside addressing our local skills needs as part of the Employer Exchange. Between the two events, there were over 60 students in attendance, 23 businesses and local authority which were:

Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce members at the Business to College Networking EventHastings Area Chamber of Commerce members at the Business to College Networking Event
Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce members at the Business to College Networking Event

Funded by the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, R.I.S.E Hastings (standing for Reboot. Ideas. Skills. Enterprise.) is a programme led by Let’s Do Business Group, in collaboration with Southern Housing, Educations Futures Trust and Hastings Borough Council to encourage and reinvigorate economic growth. Through the programme, businesses and individuals who are based in the town can receive help to start and grow their businesses from a team of locally based experts.

The outcome of the first event saw 3 T Level placements in both the manufacturing and accounting sectors, with plans for the students to start working alongside these local businesses and ultimately help kickstart their careers!

“This was a fantastic even for us to attend to interact with the accountancy students who were very engaging. It was very useful for all parties, in particular regarding the placement opportunities that the students have to carry out as part of their course that we are able to support them with.”

Sam Carter, Ashdown Hurrey

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“We had the chance to meet with two students – one student decided he wanted to take his future in another direction, which we completely understand. But it does go to show how beneficial these events can be, even if it’s just to get people’s foot in the door or experience with interviews. We’re still waiting on the second, but we have offered him the experience which is positive!”

Courtney Benton, Interface Manufacturing Limited

Because of the popularity garnered from this event, we are now seeing plans for similar networking opportunities with Colleges and Chambers being rolled out across the whole of East Sussex. What was initially a test to see what interest it would spark in Hastings, is soon to become countywide and we are all pleased at Hastings Chamber to have helped with creating an impact.

“We are delighted with how our Business to Students event was received by businesses, students, and curriculum head. The idea was simple, to get all three parties together in the same place at the same time and facilitate discussion to see where it led. To get 3 placements off the first event shows how valuable it is for everyone to engage and learn, listen, and support each other.”

Sean Dennis, Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce

Is your business based in Hastings or the surrounding area? Find out more about becoming a Hastings Chamber member today!