This month’s #FSBConnect Bedford meeting held yesterday (November 8) at Corner 5 Restaurant in Kempston featured Jacque Holmes, careers advisor of Greys Education Centre who talked about how, even a short period of work experience can make the difference between young people joining the ranks of the NEETS (not in education, employment or training) and getting a job. Jacque said: “I was invited to talk at the meeting by Ian Cording, who as well as being the Bedfordshire branch chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is the enterprise advisor for the school. It was a great opportunity as many of the businesses who attended were interested in helping our students, some of whom have found main stream school difficult but who nevertheless still deserve the chance to find a rewarding job.” She continued: “We would very much welcome local businesses to come into the school and speak to a small group of our students. They may well be able to inspire a troubled young person and nothing could be more rewarding than that.” FSB branch chairman, Ian Cording said: “It was a great meeting. Everybody who attends gets something out of it and our numbers of attendees is growing month on month. I am very much looking forward to the presentations next month.” The next meeting of #FSBConnect Bedford will be held on Wednesday, December 13 from 10.30am to 12.00 and will feature speakers from the area’s top universities who will talk about some of the money that is available for small businesses to fund innovative projects. Ian Pulford from the Open University, which is based in Milton Keynes, will give attendees insight into the services and support they can receive by being part of CityLabs, a collaborative project that is grant funded by ERDF in order to engage SMEs in research and business development. Sandra Turner from Cranfield University will also talk about the IMAGE project . Ian Pulford said: “If you are an SME operating in the digital economy and need support in bringing new products to market, CityLabs will support you all the way. There is still EU money out there for companies who have a great product or service that is in need of some development funding. If the UK is going to compete as a high-tech economy, we need to nurture these companies, my talk will outline how businesses can get some help with their projects.” Sandra Tuner said: “The aim of IMAGE project is to help small and medium businesses, in the area to grow through research and innovation. Businesses accessing the programme will be able to get advice from leading academics on how to turn ideas into new products and services and receive access to world-leading research facilities, enabling them to test and develop new products.” The format of the networking meeting allows everyone at the event to “pitch their wares” in two-minute slots to their fellow attendees. The concept is part of a successful series of national FSB networking events in which small business owners have a chance to meet fellow business owners. The events are open to both FSB members and non-members alike and attracts a range of local businesses who have fed back very positively about the new contacts they have made. The coffee morning costs £5 for members and non-members and includes tea or coffee and pastries and as well as the formal networking, there will usually be a speaker at the event as well as a business card draw which will give the winner five minutes to say more about a topic of their choice. The event will always be the second Wednesday of the month at Corner 5 Restaurant in Box End Park, Kempston and the next event after the December one will be held will be at 10.30 am on January 10 2018. For further information and to book, go to www.fsb.org.uk/bedscambsherts or contact Caron Kendall on 01525 875866 If you would like to inspire the next generation by engaging with young people at Greys Education Centre and sharing your story with them to enable them to envisage what their ‘World of Work’ could look like, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.