I TALKED in last week’s column about growth and specifically the need for good growth. By that I mean ensuring we have the right infrastructure to support housing development along with a strong economy where existing business can expand and news ones relocate or invest.

The recent Centre for Cities report highlighted that Swindon has the seventh highest housing growth in the UK. Very timely then that our next Switch on to Swindon event, hosted by Rombourne Serviced Offices, is all about growth. Speakers will talk about the plans for nearly 3,000 homes at Wichelstowe and expanding business operations in the town.

There are still a few places left at the event on March 1 at 6pm so if you are interested in attending you can register here - https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/sots-ambassador-event-with-rombourne-serviced-offices-tickets-42752523950

Another crucial element of good growth is equipping our young people with the skills to fulfil their potential and giving them career opportunities. The Switch on to Swindon team were invited recently to talk to the staff at Kingsdown School about the campaign and how they could get involved. As part of this we talked to some of the students about their hopes and aspirations. Doctor, engineer, dancer, fireman, nurse, teacher, scientist, coder, games developer, soldier were just some of the careers the young people hoped to have.

Now in its fourth year the annual JobFest on Tuesday, March 6, at STEAM provides a route to some of those careers by bringing employers and potential employees together. Around 600 young people from the local Swindon area will be attending JobFest.

The SOTS team were at last year’s event and it really is a unique opportunity for local businesses to meet a lot of prospective employees in a short period of time and promote your business to them. Lots of our ambassadors will be there and I would encourage businesses who are looking to recruit young people now or in the near future or fill apprenticeships to get involved.

Find out more at jobfestswindon.co.uk

Continuing with the theme of growing our own and growing our skills I was pleased to see last week that the National Literacy Trust has teamed up with Swindon Borough Council to open a National Literacy Trust Hub known locally as Swindon Stories. With funding by WHSmith, Swindon Stories will encourage the whole town to make reading, writing and talking a priority. One of our ambassadors, Thamesdown, is already leading the way with support for the project and we are going to be working closely with Swindon Stories to see how more of our ambassadors can get involved in the initiative. Literacy skills are so important and taking such a proactive approach to addressing some of the gaps we have in Swindon is a really positive step.

In terms of businesses getting involved in the place they are based there is no better example than Involve Swindon who will be holding their annual conference on February 28 at the National Self Build and Renovation centre.

‘Switch on to volunteering’ is the theme and attendees will hear about some of the examples of businesses who lead the way when it comes to employee volunteering. Not only is this good for the community it is good for business. I look forward to helping them spread that message.