Skills on the agenda in County Durham

Businesses in County Durham are being invited to share their ideas on learning and skills to help plan the County's future.

The County Durham Economic Partnership (CDEP) is inviting the business community of County Durham to take part in the Bigger Picture, where people from across County Durham will exchange opinions on employment, the economy, and training.

The event will feature talks from North East entrepreneur and Dragons' Den panellist Duncan Bannatyne and Roberta Blackman Woods the M.P. for Durham City. As well as these speakers, representatives from One NorthEast, the Learning and Skills Council and Job Centre Plus will all be on hand to offer their advice and opinions. The whole event will be facilitated by the BBC's Wendy Gibson.

Ken Jarrold C.B.E Chair of the County Durham Economic Partnership said: "County Durham is facing significant challenges, including the loss of traditional industries and new global competition for manufacturing and engineering contracts. These have weakened County Durham's economic position.

"Across the County, levels of educational attainment are improving and business survival rates are higher than the national average. However there is a great deal to do before the economic performance matches the regional average which is itself lower than the national performance.

"These underlying challenges have been made more difficult by the current economic downturn. We believe that one of the most important tasks is to raise education and skills levels in the County so that our people are able to compete for jobs in the county and elsewhere."

Event guests can also find out more about CDEP and the action plan designed to increase levels of employability, help local people improve their skills and improve the region's economy.

There are only a few places left at the event, and the final deadline for registration is Wednesday 5 November. To find out more about The Bigger Picture or to register for the event, go to www.the-bigger-picture.co.uk.

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