How is the Black Country performing?

Map showing the number of workless people by lower super output area in the Black Country in May 2008

Map showing levels of worklessness in the Black Country May 2008 (click map to view at full size)

How can we tell whether real progress is being made towards achievement of the Black Country’s aspirations?

The aspirations are set out in the Black Country Vision and the  Black Country Strategy for Growth and Competitiveness.

The answer may lie in the newly developed Black Country performance management framework, which consists of 24 key indicators that measure achievement of the Black Country Strategy.

Supporting maps for each indicator are available on Black Country Knowledge (registration required).

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A new approach to skills for sustainable communities

Cover of The Egan Review skills for sustainable communitiesIn 2004 the Egan Review started the discussion around skills for sustainable communities.

The Review aimed to identify the skills necessary, and any potential skill gaps, to deliver successful, sustainable communities.

The review recommended:

To encourage people into built environment professions and other core occupations; address gateway educational needs by working with employers, professional and academic institutions; address professional development needs; enable continuous development and review; and manage knowledge for those in associated and wider public groups.

However, two assumptions underline these recommendations:

  1. Qualifications and skills are equivalent
  2. Once you have learned a new set of skills (or achieved a qualification) you will practice the knowledge acquired.

I understand these assumptions are practical in terms of the analysis but could we say they are realistic?

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Tracking a plant disease across Cannock Chase using GISlp

GIS (Geographical Information Systems) is helping to track and treat a plant disease, previously unknown in the United Kingdom, which is infecting and killing bilberry across the northern part of Cannock Chase Country Park.

Bilberry plant showing symptoms of PhytophthoraStaffordshire County Council’s Environment and Countryside team, with help from many volunteers, have been surveying the outbreak of Phytophthora pseudosyringae in the bilberry on Cannock Chase.

This alga-like fungus can cause the rotting of roots of some deciduous trees in Europe, and is associated with the condition known as oak decline.

It is rare in the United Kingdom. Few previous records on the infection of bilberry seem to exist.

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LocalGovCamp unconference for local government

LocalGovCamp an unconference for local governmentLocalGovCamp is an unconference for local government being held in Birmingham at Fazeley Studios on 20 June 2009.

The event will be will be a gathering of people interested in how local government needs to adapt to a world of social networks and data sharing.

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