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West Suffolk Forum

The West Suffolk forum allows Chamber members in the area to come together and discuss local opportunities and issues.

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 26 June 2024 at The Epicentre in Haverhill. This event is now open for bookings on our website - please go to our Events page to secure your place by clicking here.

Wednesday 24 April 2024 - Claas UK Ltd, Bury St Edmunds

Suffolk Chamber member CLAAS UK hosts skills discussion

Suffolk Chamber member CLAAS is the European market leader in combine harvesters and world leader in forage harvesters. It is also a top performer in worldwide agricultural engineering with its tractors, agricultural balers and green harvesting machinery. It runs its own apprenticeship programme for its dealers across Britain and Ireland.

West Suffolk Chamber members learnt more about the CLAAS apprenticeship programme and toured the training facility which includes a TV studio. Members of course, had a chance for a close up look at some very impressive farm  machinery and found out CLAAS speedily delivers spare parts to farmers in busy times like harvest.

Phil Stittle of West Suffolk College also updated members on how its XR lab is opening up new ways of learning and Emma Taylor of Suffolk New College explained how the Chamber led Norfolk and Suffolk Local Skills Improvement Plan has resulted in a successful bid for £4.7 million of funding to meet the skills needs of employers across the region.

Steve Elsom, Director of Number 4 Consulting and chair of Suffolk Chamber in West Suffolk said 'It was great to visit CLAAS. I'm pleased that Chamber members in West Suffolk are strongly behind the skills agenda and that our local colleges are supporting and signposting them, so as to make the training programmes more accessible and relevant to the needs of the businesses’. 

Monday 4 September 2023 - EpiCentre, Haverhill

Steve Elsom of Number4 Consulting and the Chair of Suffolk Chamber in West Suffolk welcomed Chamber members and guests to the breakfast forum meeting at the EpiCentre in Haverhill.

Councillor Cliff Waterman, Leader of West Suffolk Council explained to Chamber members that the new council administration has a clear vision for stable and sustainable growth bringing prosperity to our community.  West Suffolk geographically has a unique position as part of the Cambridge sub-region and a vital gateway to the East.  Cliff stressed that we must all work together to leverage our influence to lobby government for the infrastructure improvements which are long overdue.  The council is seeking opportunities to develop its core commitment to sustainable, thriving future for all - for example in the Solar for Business Scheme.

Tim Robinson, Chief Operating Officer at Tech East told Chamber about the Eastern Region’s position as the third most important tech cluster in the national context. 

Tia and Ashley Sparling of K9 Digital demonstrated some of their amazing concept art and graphics in 2D and 3D that has resulted in them building a growing business that has many clients across the globe.  They showed how the digital landscape is changing and how the creative industries are bringing new employment to Haverhill and West Suffolk.

Toby Warren, Senior Policy Officer at Suffolk Chamber of Commerce gave a presentation about Social Value and its importance for Suffolk businesses.  


Please let us know by email your thoughts and suggestions for future West Suffolk forum meetings. We welcome suggestions about venues, topics and times for meetings.


Social Value - Toby Warren



22nd May 2023 - Extended reality forum

The Suffolk Chamber in West Suffolk Forum held its meeting at West Suffolk College's XR Learning Lab on 22nd May.

The XR or extended reality lab provides employers with an innovative training and learning environment for their present and future workforce. The XR lab allows students to train and learn on 3D models. The lab also equips students with the digital skills which all businesses increasingly need.

West Suffolk Chamber members were also briefed on the range of apprenticeships the college can provide and the flexible ways that the college can meet employers training needs.

Steve Elsom, chair of the West Suffolk Forum said 'Everyone was very impressed that West Suffolk College is updating the way in which it provides training, so that it meets the changing needs of employers. The XR lab opens up many more training opportunities and the college is keen to meet with more employers to find out how their new facilities and services can help with training needs'.


XR Lab - Tom Lloyd

Apprenticeships - Lisa Parish

Eastern Colleges Group - Phil Stittle

Personal & Professional Learning - Deborah Barton

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