A new customer service excellence training scheme has been launched to ensure Paisley is primed to welcome visitors to its events and attractions in the coming years.

Paisley Welcomes Event 23.5.18

Customer experience is a key part of any visitor’s impressions of a place and the new Paisley Welcomes programme will provide enhanced training to those coming into contact with visitors covering everyone from volunteers and hospitality and leisure workers to retail staff and taxi drivers.

The Paisley Welcomes project is a key pillar of the Renfrewshire Visitor Plan 2018-2021. The programme is an online module which covers both customer service training and information about Paisley and Renfrewshire. The training is open to individuals as well as businesses.

Interested parties can register for the online module. The first 2,000 people to sign up will be able to complete it free of charge as Renfrewshire Council and Scottish Enterprise are helping to fund the scheme. A wide range of users can benefit from taking part – from school leavers wishing to develop their skills through to front of house staff who are often the first point of contact for visitor questions.

The overall aim is to create a consistent customer experience, but it will also encourage cross-selling leading to visitors staying longer and spending more, and create repeat visitation.

Leader of Renfrewshire Council, Councillor Iain Nicolson, said: “The Paisley Welcomes skills development project offers a great opportunity for individuals and businesses to showcase the very best of Paisley and Renfrewshire and is one of the pillars of the Visitor Plan. The project will also support the delivery of a number of key strategic priorities over the next three years – including the Paisley 2021 Legacy Plan and the Renfrewshire Events Strategy.

“It is a great opportunity for businesses to enhance their customer offer and I would encourage all interested parties to register for the project and take advantage of the first 2,000 free training places subsidised by the council and Scottish Enterprise.”

Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive, Bob Grant, said: “This is a great opportunity for businesses in Renfrewshire to get involved to provide the best experience possible for visitors while helping upskill staff in the area. We know that businesses want help to improve their services and customer offer and this is a fantastic opportunity to put our best foot forward.”

The programme is based on the well-established Glasgow Welcomes best practice, which all of the Commonwealth Games volunteers went through. It supports the drive for destination development but also supports the new focus on the wider Glasgow City Region development.

A number of local businesses have already voiced their support for the project and have pledged to sign up for the module.

The Glynhill Hotel and Leisure Club General Manager, Graeme Gibson, said “We will be putting our staff through the Paisley Welcomes training. The more economically vibrant the area is the greater the opportunities are for us as a business. It will enable us to engage with other businesses as well as upskill our team which will in turn help grow the local economy and we will benefit as a natural result of that.”

Local restauranteur, Colette Cardosi, said: “Our staff are passionate about Paisley and about their service. Paisley Welcomes will help enhance the skills our staff already have and enable them to provide an enhanced level of excellent service so that customers feel welcome and well looked-after whenever they come into any of our establishments.

“Another major benefit of Paisley Welcomes is that is enhances consistency and excellence across the board and encourages a more collaborative, partnership approach to local businesses working together.”

There is consistency and passion across the board. Working in partnership with other local businesses – joining businesses up collaborative approach with other business owners all about community and reaching out Welcomes enhances that consistency with other local businesses.

The town’s UK City of Culture 2021 bid generated profile and positivity and established the idea that Paisley can harness the power of our culture and heritage assets to transform the area’s future.

The new Paisley.is destination brand will continue the work to transform place perceptions by signposting residents and visitors to everything Paisley and Renfrewshire has to offer. This can only work if the whole area works together to do so.

To find out more or to sign up please visit: https://paisley.is/paisley-welcomes/.

The 2017 Renfrewshire Employability Awards have celebrated the successes and people making a difference to local businesses.

Employees, entrepreneurs and interns were just some of the top talent recognised at the award ceremony on Wednesday (6 September 2017) hosted by television and radio presenter Bryan Burnett at Paisley Town Hall.

Renfrewshire businesses nominated local people who have been supported through the Employability in Renfrewshire Partnership programmes.

RDC Invest awards 6.9.17 Celebrating Success
Renfrewshire Employability Awards
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Paisley Town Hall Top Intern Award Top Intern Award
Debbie Campbell

And after a nail-biting wait, nine winners were announced from the impressive list of finalists.

The award winners are:

  • Most Promising New Employee: Jamie Drysdale, Power 1 Electrical Contractors Ltd
  • Most Promising New Entrepreneur: Euan McIntosh, Starkstrom (Scotland) Ltd
  • Top Intern: Debbie Campbell, I Am Me Scotland
  • Best Trainee: Homam Sharif, Renfrewshire Council
  • CV Builder (Youth): Morgan Spence, Johnstone High School
  • CV Builder (Adult): Laura Connor, Engage Renfrewshire
  • Apprentice of the Year: Andrew McClorey, Renfrewshire Council
  • Progression in Work: Laura Currie, Consilium Contracting Ltd
  • Achiever of the Year: Barbara Brown

More than 1,000 local businesses have signed up to support the Invest in Renfrewshire programme which support 1400 people each year, providing direct access to vacancies, work experience, training, personal support and finance.

The programme is now based at the recently refurbished Russell Institute building on Causeyside Street, which is also home to Skills Development Scotland.

The night concluded with three Special Recognition awards for local businesses who have shown outstanding support over the last year, enthusiastically helping people prepare for work, enter work and progress in work.

These awards went to Papamacs Gourmet Kitchen in Johnstone; Gormac Coachworks in Renfrew and Carli’s Kindergarten in Erskine.

Councillor Jim Paterson, Depute Leader of Renfrewshire Council said: “Congratulations to all the winners and to everyone shortlisted for these awards which celebrate success and recognise the talent, enterprise and commitment of Renfrewshire’s people.

“The collective cooperation and commitment of our partners in the business community, education and employability sectors is key to our continued economic success.

“Together, we have taken Renfrewshire’s youth employment from 27th in Scotland to being fourth best. Our job totals are at pre-recession levels; regeneration is gathering pace; unemployment is falling; businesses are growing; and we are developing a reputation as a place of enterprise, creativity and drive.

“Paisley’s bid to become UK City of Culture 2021 is already changing how we are seen and how others see us. The Glasgow City Region City Deal’s £274m investment in Renfrewshire will put us right at the heart of a powerhouse regional economy. We will seize this momentum by continuing to support business growth and create jobs. We will work tirelessly to help people find work and succeed in a modern economy.”

Sandra Black, Renfrewshire Council Chief Executive said: “I too want to congratulate all our finalists and partners who have shown what is possible and inspire our continued success.

“These awards celebrate the enterprise, talent and commitment to excellence that characterise Renfrewshire’s businesses and their employees. From the winners and everyone shortlisted we can see that these qualities are having an immense and positive effect on our people and our future.

“Renfrewshire has always had a strong, creative, hardworking and entrepreneurial culture. We also have a strong sense of community and fairness. Through local partnership working, we have made great strides in developing our economy, tackling poverty, regenerating our towns and empowering our communities.”

Find out more about employability programmes in Renfrewshire at: www.investinrenfrewshire.com

Investment in Paisley’s heritage buildings and high street is a strong sign that ambitious heritage-led transformation plans are bringing a new lease of life to the town.

Council Leader and Head of Regeneration at Pendulum

Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson took a tour round Paisley’s town centre to see firsthand recent investments in heritage buildings and shop units in the town.

Council Leader, Head of Regeneration and Mr Hussain outside 20 High Street

The Council’s ambitious plans to use Paisley’s internationally-significant heritage and cultural assets as part of wider regeneration plans for the area have already seen the town shortlisted for the UK Government’s UK City of Culture 2021 competition.

Head of Regeneration and Council Leader at Coats Memorial Church

Regeneration plans are working towards transforming Paisley into a hub of creative and cultural excellence and a world-class visitor destination that will drive investment to the whole of Renfrewshire.

The Leader’s tour began with a visit to the ground floor of the former Arnotts building, now a 120 seat contemporary restaurant Pendulum by the owners of the town’s existing Cardosi’s restaurant, which has benefitted from a new frontage, part-funded by a grant from Renfrewshire Council’s retail improvement scheme.

The former Arnotts department store site has been transformed into new residential apartments on Gauze Street and Lawn Street as part of a joint venture between Park Lane Group and Renfrewshire Council, with work to develop further apartments on Smithhills Street due to commence on site very soon.

At 20 High Street, Councillor Nicolson greeted owner and landlord Mr Hussain who is refurbishing shop units in the King Solomon building, due to open soon. The private sector investment includes fitting both shop units with traditional shop fronts in keeping with Paisley’s heritage-led and cultural ambitions for the town centre.

The shops are next door to the proposed Learning and Cultural Hub at 22 High Street, a £5 million investment funded by Renfrewshire Council and Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund.

Up at the top of the High Street, plans to renovate shop frontages to a traditional look is part of a £4 million investment into the Townscape Heritage and Conservation Area Regeneration schemes in the area around the High Street, funded by Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic Environment Scotland and Renfrewshire Council, expected to run until 2021.

Changing the way the area looks and feels and creating a warm welcome for visitors are part of plans behind Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021, which will make the most out of County Square and rail connections through Paisley Gilmour Street, the fourth busiest train station in Scotland.

As part of the tour, the Leader also visited Moss Street to see renovations to residential property (14a Moss Street) and works at former Early Learning Centre (5 Moss Street). The tour ended at the magnificent Coats Memorial Church, which is currently in the care of trustees.

Council Leader said: “Our vision for Paisley is a new town centre economy based around heritage and culture as part of wider regeneration plans for the area.

“Being shortlisted in the UK Government’s UK City of Culture 2021 competition is a huge endorsement for the town. The competition has really changed people’s perceptions of the town and we are starting to see investment come into the area, which will drive economic benefits for the whole of Renfrewshire.

“Investment in venues and cultural infrastructure will have a huge effect on the local community, but also attract visitors into the town through our vital transport links – such as the M8, Paisley Gilmour Street, the fourth busiest train station in Scotland, and plans for a bridge from Renfrew to Yoker, funded by Glasgow City Deal.

“In retelling Paisley’s story to the world, we are bringing the past into the present and creating a new era for the town that will attract investment, people and jobs into the area. The work that we will put into submitting our final UK City of Culture 2021 bid to the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in September, goes hand in hand with working with businesses, the community and landlords to transform the public space in Paisley.”

For more information on Paisley and the town’s bid for UK City of Culture in 2021, visit www.paisley2021.co.uk, like /Paisley2021 on Facebook or follow @Paisley2021 on Twitter and Instagram.

An employability programme designed to give experience and improve the job prospects of young graduates is flourishing- with over 214 having come through the system since it began.

Invest in Renfrewshire’s Graduate Internship programme offers paid work placements to Renfrewshire’s skilled young graduates who are unemployed, or underemployed, in their chosen sector.

Linzi Clark, the 200th intern to come through the programme, was struggling to find that first step on the ladder after graduating from university.

Linzi said: “I had graduated with a BA (Hons) degree in Commercial Music and found that it was difficult to get that first opportunity to start my career and so was working in Costa Coffee full time.

“My older sister had previously completed a graduate intern placement at Renfrewshire Council and recommended that I should look at the vacancies available through the Invest in Renfrewshire website.”

Linzi applied for an internship with the Paisley 2021 Bid Team as the town entered the race to be named UK City of Culture 2021.

“Having lived in Paisley my entire life, I was excited that Paisley was going to showcase everything it has to offer through the City of Culture bid.

“I had been actively looking for work in the creative sector and have a big interest in the creative arts and so when I saw the opportunity to work as part of the bid team, I thought it would be the ideal role for me.”

As part of her role Linzi works within the community to raise awareness of the bid and find the hidden stories within Paisley.

“The highlights have been getting to meet people from all walks of life through community engagement, and gaining a better understanding of all the amazing things that are happening in Paisley.

“I’ve assisted with the organisation of various community engagement events and cultural consultations and I’ve also had the opportunity to perform at various events including at the launch of the Culture bus.”

The internships are an excellent opportunity for graduates and of those who have completed their internship, 80% have gone straight into work or further education.

Council Leader Mark Macmillan said: “We made eradicating long-term youth unemployment a key aim of the Council and figures in June 2015 showed Renfrewshire had climbed to 4th for youth unemployment out of all 32 local authorities- previously having been 27th.

“The Graduate Internship programme has been a key factor in bringing young people into employment and giving them the experience and skills to move into jobs which utilises their degrees.

“It is important that we give our young people a chance to get their first step on the ladder which will set them up for a career in their chosen field- and Invest in Renfrewshire gives graduates that opportunity.”

Linzi now plans to use her experiences to continue working in the creative sector with a number of fields now open to her.

“Working in such a small team has meant that I have gained experience which has given me confidence moving forward in my career as I now feel better equipped to take on new challenges.”

“I would encourage anyone thinking of applying for an internship to do so, as it’s a really great way to gain new skills and kick start your career.”

For further information on undertaking a graduate internship or advice on how to take that next step in your career, visit: www.investinrenfrewshire.com, call 0141 618 7856 or email intern@renfrewshire.gov.uk.

Below is a Statement from Mhairi Black MP on the closure on Lonend DWP administration centre.

Mhairi Black MP said:

“This is yet more bad news for Paisley. This will be devastating for all those who work there.

“I think it is deplorable that the Minister for Employment did not bother alert MPs ahead of this announcement, and instead left us to find out this information through the media.

“There are already concerns that DWP staff are under pressure with increasing workload and I do not understand how closing yet more facilities will rectify that.

“This closure will impact directly on those who rely on our security system.”

Further details to follow.

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Creating a direct rail link between Glasgow Airport and the city centre is vital to the long term success of the regional economy, according to business leaders.

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A survey on behalf of Renfrewshire and Glasgow City councils revealed around three-quarters of businesses believe such a link would benefit their sales or turnover, while half said it would have a positive impact on employment numbers.

It also found that four out of five think a direct rail link would boost their business by giving them better access to clients and customers.

More than a quarter of businesses reported the planned link – known as the Glasgow Airport Access Project – would help them recruit and retain staff, while 84 per cent said it would have a positive impact on the economy.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan holds the economic portfolio in the Glasgow City Region Cabinet.

He said: “The results of this survey send a clear message and leave absolutely no room for doubt. Businesses overwhelmingly feel that improving access to and from the airport with a direct rail link would break down barriers to their success and open doors for local people to find good jobs.”

“Glasgow Airport injects around £170m to the Glasgow City Region economy every year”, he added.

“We need to help it stay competitive and ensure we deliver the access needed for businesses to thrive, grow and provide positive employment opportunities.”

The Glasgow Airport Access Project will provide a direct rail link between the airport, Paisley and Glasgow City Centre.

It is the flagship project of the Glasgow City Region City Deal, an agreement to fund major infrastructure projects that unites eight local authorities and to which the Scottish and UK governments have committed.

The survey was carried out by Peter Brett Associates LLP between 8 August and 6 September 2016.

It was sent to businesses registered with Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce and the Glasgow Tourism Initiative, published on the Glasgow City Council website and circulated via the Glasgow Airport Twitter account.

Of the 133 businesses that took part 85 per cent were small-scale enterprises, around 10 per cent were medium scale, and five per cent large scale.

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Scotland’s universities and colleges can do more to work with local authorities to support new and existing businesses, according to Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan.

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The Council Leader will meet with members of the Scottish Universities Research and Commercialisation Group in Paisley today (Tues 13 Sept) to outline the planned investment for the Glasgow City Region City Deal to bring major employment opportunities to the West of Scotland.

Scottish Universities work with around 30,000 businesses a year – a third of these from outwith Scotland and provide a range of services and support – from meeting and events space to advice for innovative companies, learning and development for employees as well as a range of consultancy services.

Councillor Mark Macmillan said:“We want to work closely with our universities and colleges to capitalise on all the benefits they can bring, whether that’s in equipping students now with the skills required for the future or helping create the conditions in which new business ventures and entrepreneurs thrive.

“The economic climate and financial challenges we face in a post Brexit world mean we need to ensure we equip ourselves for change so we can compete in an increasingly global market  and have the right partnerships in place to support our local businesses and communities through those changes.

“We need to work together to ensure we are constantly re-imagining our offering to both the students of today and the entrepreneurs of tomorrow to ensure our support to business does not stand still and remains of value.”

Renfrewshire Council recently signed a new partnership agreement with the University of the West of Scotland which secures commitment to work on shared priorities around education and skills, employment and investment. A similar agreement is planned this autumn with the Paisley-based  West College Scotland.

Councillor Macmillan added: “We have ambitious plans for Renfrewshire and the West of Scotland but we can only maximise the benefits of those plans for the people who live and work here if we work together.”

The latest figures from the Office of National Statistics show Renfrewshire is experiencing ongoing economic growth with 140 more businesses starting during 2014 than closing.

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Councillor Mark Macmillan, Leader of Renfrewshire Council, said, “In every year between 2009 and 2014, more businesses have opened in Renfrewshire than closed.

“While these figures are a snapshot in time, they reflect positive news for Renfrewshire’s performance. This steady growth highlights the importance we place on economic regeneration and shows that our investment is paying dividends.

“We will soon start to see the benefits of the £1.13billion Glasgow City Region City Deal feeding through into benchmark figures like these. And Paisley’s bid to be the UK City of Culture for 2021 will be another driver for business development, helping to realise our vision for a connected, energetic and innovative economy.

“Renfrewshire Council has and continues to create the conditions which have allowed the area’s economic base to expand. We nurture businesses because we recognise that well established companies provide permanent jobs for local people.

“In the last three and a half years 1,112 new companies have been set up with help from the Business Gateway. Over the last six years, unemployment in Renfrewshire has fallen by 43%.

“In June 2012 we set up Invest in Renfrewshire. Since then 1,027 new paid jobs have been created and nearly 900 firms have signed up to the Invest in Renfrewshire Initiative.

“We have given 374 companies a total of £1.6million to help them pursue development, training and ICT projects. The Retail Improvement Scheme has also given local firms grants worth nearly £1million to help them upgrade their premises.

“Clearly these figures aren’t all good news, especially for those employed by the firms which have shut, but the overall balance sheet is well in the black.”

While Renfrewshire saw a slight slow-down in the number of business start-ups between 2013 and 2014 – 0.8%, this was significantly smaller than the average fall in new business start-ups across Scotland over the same time – 1.4%.

Business start-ups are defined as those which have registered to pay VAT or PAYE (Pay As You Earn). Businesses closures are defined as firms which have cancelled their registration with Companies House. This doesn’t necessarily mean they have stopped trading.

Companies House is an executive agency which incorporates and dissolves limited companies on behalf of the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

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New figures show Renfrewshire Council initiatives have almost halved unemployment among local people.

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Over the last six years the number of Renfrewshire residents claiming Jobseekers Allowance or Universal Credit has dropped by 43%.

More than 2,000 adults have found work, bringing the overall unemployment rate down to 5.8%. The reduction is most marked amongst young people with the number of 18 to 24 year olds, who are claiming unemployment entitlement, dropping by 60%. Currently there are 620, 18 to 24 year olds out of work, a fall of 920 since 2010.

Councillor Mark Macmillan, Leader of Renfrewshire Council, said, “The massive improvement in the unemployment figures is largely down to the efforts of Renfrewshire Council. Year on year we have been getting people into real jobs with real prospects.

“Our drive to end youth unemployment has paid particular dividends. We’ve seen a 60% drop in the number of 18 to 24 year olds claiming unemployment benefit.

“It is one of the most basic lessons of economics that getting people back into work is the best way to kick-start the economy. People who have jobs, which pay a decent wage, have the means to buy goods and services. This supports and creates other jobs in a virtuous circle.”

Invest in Renfrewshire is one of the key Renfrewshire Council programmes which offers a range of funding packages, designed to boost the local economy and help companies grow.

The business growth fund can pay up to 50% of costs of specific projects, up to a maximum of £10,000 while employer recruitment incentives help businesses meet the costs of hiring an unemployed young person for a new post.

Under the scheme, Invest in Renfrewshire pays 50% of their wage bill, at national minimum wage, for up to 40 hours a week for a maximum of 39 weeks. An extra £1,000 is available for companies paying the Living Wage of £7.50 per hour. Some 900 firms are signed up to the Renfrewshire Recruitment Incentive scheme. The jobs created must be new, additional to existing staff and, importantly, permanent.

Invest in Renfrewshire also matches companies with unemployed graduates, helping businesses benefit from new ideas and skills.

Microloan funding is available to help existing small businesses grow. It offers unsecured loans of between £1,000 and £5,000. The West of Scotland loan fund offers loans of up to £50,000, which can be used for working capital, equipment or property.

Grants of up to £10,000 are available to help retail businesses improve their shop-fronts and interiors and help is also on offer to find new premises.

InCube is another key part of the Invest in Renfrewshire programme. InCube is a business incubator designed to give new businesses the best possible start in life. The services provided by InCube are backed, quite literally, by a shop window for the unique goods created by local entrepreneurs.

The InCube shop itself has revitalised a vacant unit on Paisley’s Gilmour Street and sells textiles, paintings, jewellery, accessories, hats and children’s clothes.