Mission4Markets was launched almost twelve months ago. An important part of the project is twenty four separate recommendations, contained in six dedicated sections of the publication, which are intended as action points for market operators, traders and the national organisations. It is worthwhile reflecting on what progress has been made in pursuing these recommendations.

Over my next two articles I will be addressing the six sections of Mission4Markets and highlighting some of the success we have achieved and also the areas where we need to do better.

The first section is concerned with the new generation of market traders and two of the important recommendations in this section refer to ensuring that all markets have a proper balance of trade policy and market operators should make connections with local colleges and universities to explore the potential for youth markets and retail training.

NABMA has responded to the recommendation on balance of trade by producing a template balance of trade policy and it is clear that many of our members are having a much greater emphasis on this issue. Following NABMA’s success in preventing the introduction of restrictions on maintaining a balance of trade policy, by preventing the enactment of the European Services Directive, it is important that all markets have a declared policy which is open to public examination.

The last twelve months have seen some outstanding examples of markets working with colleagues and universities. Kirklees Council have developed an excellent relationship with their local university which was highlighted at the NABMA One Day Conference in January.

Earlier this year Swansea Market, with help from NABMA and Adam Corbally, undertook an excellent project with Swansea University to identify young entrepreneurs. We are looking forward to hearing about the results of this project at our Conference at Stratford.

Southend Council sponsored some great Youth Markets as part of Love Your Local Market and it’s great to see representatives from those Markets going forward to the National Youth Market at Manchester in early September.

Looking at the age profile of existing traders it is important that we accelerate the number of young people becoming market traders. Working with colleges and universities is something all markets should address as the examples I have highlighted provide positive evidence of what can be achieved. Getting market traders to address new skills is the focus of the second section of Mission4Markets and perhaps we have been less successful in this area than we envisaged. The emphasis of this section is to embrace change in the way market traders work, particularly in terms of digital technology, and to encourage market traders to regularly perform a skills audit that enables them to identify skills that need to be developed to sustain and grow their business.

Given the results of our market traders survey in 2015 there is plenty of scope to get more market traders engaging with new technology. It will be interesting to see whether the results from 2016 show any significant improvements. We know of a number of markets where wifi facilities are available and we will be hearing at Stratford from Tooting Market where the introduction of digital technology has made a significant improvement in raising the profile of the Market. The third section highlights the need for Market Managers to acquire new skills and again we have seen some notable success, particularly with the continued popularity of NABMA’s Diploma Course, but this is also another area where we need to do more. We are losing experienced market managers and in many Markets the general view appears that anyone can take responsibility for running the Market. This is a sad indictment of the way in which Markets are viewed but it also emphasises the need for NABMA to do more to support Market Managers.

The Diploma gives Market Managers an excellent academic qualification but we need to match this with practical experience and the opportunity of mentoring. Over the next six months we will be working with our headline sponsor, Market Place Europe, to see how this further element of professional development can be implemented. So progress has been made but we cannot rest on our laurels. Next month I will look at the structural changes in local government, local and national legislation and Markets and the High Street. In the meantime have a look at Mission4Markets and see what you have done to address the twenty four issues. You can find access Mission4Markets at www.mission4markets.uk