Mid-October saw the inaugural gathering of the British and Irish Trading Alliance (BITA) Leeds and Manchester Chapters at the Lowry Hotel in Salford. The event was marked with a sell-out luncheon, attended by over 140 business leaders and decision makers from across the UK and Ireland, and sponsored by ourselves Business Connect Magazine, KrolCorlett Construction and Network Plus. The event started just before noon with networking in the spacious bar area of the hotel until we were called in to enjoy a delicious three course luncheon in the conference suite of the Lowry.
Here we enjoyed short speeches from the sponsors and an address from Bridie Cunningham, BITA’s London Chapter Chair, where she talked in detail about the skills shortages in the Construction sector and the work needed to improve the situation. We also heard from Paul Whitnell, President and Founder of BITA, along with Sarah Mangan, Consul General of Ireland for the North of England, and Eamonn Boylan, CEO of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, who closed the addresses. The event ended up back in the large bar area, where more networking took place offering a fantastic opportunity to bring together many businesses not just from the Greater Manchester and Leeds regions but all across the UK.
Business Connect asked Paul Whitnell for a comment on the event and of course on BITA as an organisation: “The British and Irish Trading Alliance is a non-profit organisation with a mission to ‘help more people and influence further, as a collective.’ Our mission statement is that we are the ‘People who know people that help people’. We started life as a networking group that offered fun and relaxed events in London in 2012. Almost 10 years later we now operate across the UK and Ireland, and have expanded our services to include advice and resources in HR, training, procurement, mentoring and more.
“BITA is proud to have great representation across the north, with Chapters in Liverpool, Isle of Man, Manchester and Leeds, and a partnership with networking organisation Causeway Exchange which represents businesses in Scotland and Northern Ireland. We’re pushing forward with many more face to face events like this luncheon for the Manchester and Leeds Chapters, a great example too are the regular networking lunches at Anfield Stadium, hosted by our well-established Liverpool Chapter.
“We recently announced our growth strategy for 2022, announcing five key areas that we will be focusing on for the next 5 years. These are: Encouraging Manufacturing, Labour Supply and Apprenticeships, Sustainability, Innovation, and Championing the Leaders of Tomorrow. As an organisation with hundreds of member companies, including some of the biggest names in construction, and thousands of affiliated individuals, we feel that our members’ voices can make a real impact to critical issues. The first and most pressing of these key areas is labour supply and apprenticeships, and we started work in July on this with members of the London Chapter board and senior management at BITA talking with key stakeholders from our membership.
“Following these and other consultations with our members, BITA has been working with SCE Newgate to create a proposal to put before the CLC (Construction Leadership Council) where it is suggested that for each 2-year working visa provided for non-UK construction workers, companies would pledge to apprentice a UK citizen to solve the issue long-term. Guests at lunches from Liverpool, London, Manchester, and Leeds have signed up to back this pledge, and BITA representatives are due to meet with the CLC shortly to get their views on this proposal. Ultimately, this issue is one of the biggest facing most industries right now – from construction to hospitality – and BITA is excited to represent our members and champion crowd-sourced solutions. We are very excited about what we can accomplish in 2022, and have specific initiatives planned, including ‘Bring your Teenager to Work’, ‘Stand up for Equality’ and ‘World Clean-up Day’. BITA are more than just a networking group and want to help members and communities with their CSR and growth; facing challenges head on.”
The British and Irish Trading Alliance (BITA) are hosting a series of high profile business networking luncheons over the next few months bringing together business owners and leaders at iconic venues. Seats are selling fast through bita.ie/events. All details including dress code are available on their booking page.
Dates for your diary:
SOCIAL NETWORKING EVENINGS
Manchester 16 December, 5-7pm, every 3rd Thursday of the month – Marriott Victoria and Albert, Water Street, Manchester M3 4JQ
Leeds 9 December, 6-8pm, every 2nd Thursday of the month – Marriott Cast Iron Bar & Grill, 4 Trevelyan Square, Boar Lane, Leeds LS1 6ET
Liverpool 9 December, 5-7pm, every 2nd Thursday of the month – Fazenda, Exchange Flags, Liverpool L2 3YL
London 9 December, 6-8pm, every 2nd Thursday of the month – The Rising Sun, 61 Carter Lane, Fleet Street, London EC4V 5DY
London 8-9am, every Friday. Open to members and non-membersl. bita.ie/events
London Construction Networking Lunch 28 January 2022, 11.30am-5pm, Royal Horseguards, Whitehall Place, London SW1A 2EJ
Liverpool Networking Lunch 18 February 2022, 11.30am-5pm, Anfield Stadium, Liverpool L4 0TF
Manchester and Leeds Lunch 4 March 2022, 11.30am-5pm, Lowry Hotel, 50 Dearmans Place, Salford M3 5LH
Isle of Man May 2022, Comis Hotel, Mount Murray Back Road, Douglas, Isle of Man IM4 2HT
To book an event: