President aims for skills boost

Malcolm Clarke, left, with Peter Shilton
Malcolm Clarke, left, with Peter Shilton
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A Lancashire businessman has targeted boosting the county’s skills and getting banks to lend to business as key challenges as he takes up a role in a leading business body.

Malcolm Clarke, who has his own consultancy business, takes on his two-year term as president of the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce in November.

He replaces Lytham businessman Denys Smith-Hart, who has held the role since 2010.

The former director of business services at Preston College said he wanted to take a “two-pronged attack” to tackling issues around skills.

He said: “I am chairman of the Preston Vocational Centre, which works with a lot of young people who perhaps do not have the opportunities which a lot of people do.

“The work it does in providing those opportunities and support has a major part to play in tackling the issues we face around skills in Lancashire.

“The other side of it is ensuring bright, talented young graduates coming out of our universities. There is no point in putting the effort into supporting these people through their education only for someone else to get the benefit after they graduate.”

The incoming president, who lives in Bamber Bridge, near Preston, said he wanted to ensure there were high-skilled jobs available for youngsters and support for those bidding to start up their own businesses.

He has also targeted putting pressure on the Government to force high street lenders to lend to small businesses through the chamber’s national lobbying group.

He said: “How can we expect to get meaningful growth back into the economy, if we are not giving businesses the support to do it.”

Mr Clarke was officially appointed to the new position at the Chamber’s annual general meeting at Rowleys hotel at Blackpool FC on Friday.

The guest speaker at the event was former England goalkeeper, Peter Shilton, who played 125 times for his country.

He discussed his career which included playing under legendary manager, Brian Clough.