22 Mar 2024
by Feron Jayawardene

Growth Through People focuses on people development and artificial intelligence

Growth Through People.jpg

People development and artificial intelligence took the spotlight at the Growth Through People conference yesterday organised by the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce.

The conference is the flagship event of the Growth Through People campaign which aims to help organisations across the region increase productivity by employing the latest techniques to getting the most out of their biggest asset – the people.

This year’s conference, hosted by GBCC chief executive Henrietta Brealey, featured a combination of inspirational keynote speakers, expert panellists, and interactive workshops, presenting the latest techniques, advice, guidance and viewpoints on getting the most out of your staff.  

The headline sponsors of the event were Aston University and Lumien while South and City College Birmingham was the conference sponsor.

One of the keynote speakers at the event was David Morris, regional market lead at PWC Midlands, who highlighted the importance of diversity at the workplace and the impact of artificial intelligence to the business landscape.

He said: “I believe skills are a key component to increase productivity - the recruitment of skills, continuous skills development and then retaining those skills here, in order to deliver economic growth.

“We are one of the most diverse areas of the country and I think this is Birmingham's superpower. But we also see disparity in the city, with underutilised skills and overlooked areas.

“I think there is a responsibility for us to think about employment in the city and how we educate across the city to develop the skills we need now and in the future.”

Speaking about artificial intelligence, David said: “AI is redefining how we work and with the acceleration of technology, we need the right skills in order to recognise its full potential.

“Within AI advancements there are opportunities as well as risks, and it will be the businesses, employers and employees that start to embrace AI now that will demonstrate their ability to innovate and lead to future success."

The other keynote speaker was Chris Sudworth, creative director of Birmingham Hippodrome who talked about the Hippodrome Unlocked project, a five year campaign to make the Hippodrome to be the most accessible venue and arts organisation in the UK.

He said: “Before 2020, significant groundwork was laid at the Hippodrome. However, the events of 2020 presented new challenges and opportunities.

“We were compelled to contribute to the development of strategies and frameworks to address the changing landscape of the arts sector.

“However, amidst the adversity, we saw an opportunity to accelerate our efforts to create an arts venue that truly reflected the diversity and vibrancy of our city.

“We were able to achieve in 12 months what might have taken a decade, in terms of transforming the demographics of our workforce and advancing inclusivity in various dimensions.”

“There was an amazing member of staff who created a culture where everyone at the Hippodrome recognised the value of access and she also built one of the nation's leading relaxed performance structures.

“These performances were built largely to cater to younger audiences and anyone who’s on an autistic or Aspergers spectrum and additional neurodiversity needs were welcomed to join.

“Performances at the Hippodrome also have BSL interpretation, audio description and captioning.”

A panel discussion was held with a focus on bridging the gap between employers and educators.

The panel featured Pinsent Masons senior associate Rami Labib, Anshu Williams, assistant director of employer engagement of South & City College Birmingham and Aimee Postle, business enterprise development coach at Aston University.

Another panel discussion was also held on the implications of AI with director & co-founder of Lumien Christopher Golby, Doji co-founder Satyen Fakey, and Kavita Parmar, chief commercial officer of Word360.

The conference saw two regrouping exercises delivered by Will Crawford, founder and director of Quietnote and Kareen Griffiths, CEO of Calmify.

A workshop on enabling innovative teams was delivered by Lynsey Kitching, director of Cape Coaching and Development while Anne Clews from Curium hosted a CODE workshop.

The Growth Through People Conference is part of the Growth Through People campaign – a series of standalone events, digital content and research spanning from March 2024-February 2025.

Last year, 84 per cent of Growth Through People delegates learned something new to apply in their role or organisation.

Pictured from left to right: Aimee Postle, business enterprise development coach at Aston University, Pinsent Masons senior associate Rami Labib and Anshu Williams, assistant director of employer engagement of South & City College Birmingham.

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