Aspen Institute UK has a growing influence in convening roundtables and private debates in the UK. We work with companies keen to understand matters dear to their work or examine a particular pertinent issue through the eyes of clients, experts, and policymakers.
Our convening power allows us to draw together the most apposite voices for each roundtable. Our unmatched reach and rich networks mean our conversations feature diverse individuals and elicit cross-sector listening and learning.
We have been thrilled to partner with the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth to host a series of roundtables on building inclusive growth – that is, growth that benefits the whole local community – in the UK.
Inclusive growth is a global necessity, but at its heart it’s a local story. That’s why Aspen UK and the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth recently hosted an Inclusive Growth Roundtable in the West Yorkshire city of Bradford. The event — the first in a series of three private conversations — brought together participants from business communities, non-profit organisations, community advocacy groups, and government for a closed conversation and offered a unique insight into the priorities and challenges for the area.
“We chose Bradford as one of the locations for our roundtable discussions because of its socio-economic makeup,” says Penny Richards, CEO of Aspen UK, who chaired the conversation. “Thirty percent of the population describe themselves as Muslim, largely from Pakistani backgrounds.”
A key theme of the discussion in Bradford centred around the city’s diversity and the value of this in constructing its vibrant identity. After the Roundtable, Richards answered a few questions about what it’s like for Bradford businesses today…
The Federation of Small Businesses’ Small Business Index revealed a lot of pessimism in the UK. What was the mood at the roundtable?
Although the participants acknowledged the challenges they were facing, many people who attended the Aspen UK roundtable in Bradford were keen to celebrate what their city and region have achieved, and its future opportunities. There was a shared sentiment of resiliency and pride in potential opportunities in Bradford.
What are the main challenges that the participants are facing?
All the participants mentioned the need for a more concentrated approach to skills building, and attracting and retaining talent. Many also mentioned a lack of investment in infrastructure and employment schemes from the central government and private sectors.
What success stories did you hear? Where are the current bright spots?
Demographically speaking Bradford is the youngest city in the UK and in Europe, and with that comes a vibrant community of local entrepreneurs. The fintech and start-up sectors are growing, fuelled by engagement by this young population. Another sign of optimism is that Bradford will be the UK City of Culture in 2025—an opportunity to celebrate Bradford’s unique heritage and character.
To read the full Q&A, head over to this link.
Thanks to the Aspen Partnership for Inclusive Economy for collaborating with us to share our work on global inclusive economic growth.
To find out more about our roundtable convenings, get in touch with Penny Richards, CEO of the Aspen Institute UK at [email protected]