OVER 100 businesses in Hampshire attended a special event celebrating the launch of new schemes designed to support entrepreneurs.

Hampshire County Council hosted the event at the Great Hall on Thursday (March 27) to launch the Hampshire Enterprise Circle and the Hampshire Investors in Young People Award.

The Circle will replace the Hampshire Ambassadors Network which has been running for over 18 years, has over 1,400 members, and facilitates over 200 company visits to key employers.

It is aimed to provide a forum to increase networking amongst small businesses and establish a forum which provides SMEs with the opportunity to give their views on current local and national issues.

The Hampshire Investors in Young People Award aims to recognise and raise the profile of employers who are committed to supporting young people in Hampshire.

Leader of Hampshire County Council, Cllr Roy Perry, said: “The event is an excellent opportunity to inform entrepreneurs and businesses about our two new schemes and celebrate business in Hampshire. We want to continue to grow the network and by re-energising our established brand, we can ensure we are still helping hundreds of business strive for excellence and develop their own best practice procedures.

“Today’s labour market is a challenging place for young people, and although in Hampshire, youth unemployment rates compare favourably with national and local figures, there is still more we can do to help them with their first step into further education, employment or training.

“Our new corporate Youth Investment Programme is giving 1,000 young people access to apprenticeship and training opportunities at Hampshire County Council over the next five years. Our Careers and Employability Service also provides careers information, advice and guidance and a range of work related learning opportunities to schools and colleges. It aims ensure that young people are aware of the opportunities available to them, are able to build their knowledge of the labour market, and develop the skills that employers need.

“The Hampshire Investors in Youth People Award will help us develop more innovative ways to support young people in gaining the skills they need to move from education to employment, and also help local employers access a committed and enthusiastic workforce with the right skills to help their businesses grow.”

To find out more about the Hampshire Enterprise Circle, visit hants.gov.uk/business and for the Hampshire Investors in Young People Award, visit hants.gov.uk/hces.