Research published on prospects for the West Midlands economy post recession

Report cover: The West Midlands economy post recessionAt the end of June, the Observatory published The West Midlands Economy Post Recession: Key Issues and Challenges (pdf, 844kb), a major piece of research exploring the changing needs of the region’s economy and labour market as it emerges from recession.

The research is informing the decisions of employers, individuals, providers and the skills system as they look to focus their investment in key areas to maximise impact.

Firstly, the research considers the region’s recent poor economic performance and the key factors that have contributed to this.

We detail the weaknesses within the region’s economic structure and, in particular, the dependence on public sector and lower value added private sector activities, in terms of GVA and jobs, and the limited representation of high value added, knowledge-based sectors.

We also highlight the low rates of productivity in many of the sectors that dominate the regional economy and assess the skill gaps and shortages businesses in the West Midlands face and the impact on productivity and performance.

We then review the impact of these factors on prospects for GVA and employment growth over the next five years:

  • We identify the sectors, clusters and places that are set to lead recovery and those that are expected to lag behind.
  • We assess the likely scale of job growth over the next five years — in terms of new jobs and replacement demand due to labour turnover as people move from one job to another and older workers retire.
  • The sectors and clusters where the new jobs, replacement demand and opportunities for new entrants to the labour market, such as young people and the workless, are likely to arise are also identified.

Gross Value Added growth prospects by sector and cluster

Illustration of growth prospects for business sectors and clusters in England's West Midlands region over 2010 to 2015 in terms of Gross Value Added

Source: Cambridge Econometrics | Full size image on flickr

We then consider the potential business and market opportunities available in the region’s key sectors and clusters and the role of investment in skills, innovation and enterprise in helping businesses to exploit these opportunities to the full.

We quantify the scale of improvements needed to raise the productivity and performance of the existing business base via training and up-skilling, and to grow and develop higher value added sectors and clusters.

Finally, we present scenarios exploring the potential benefits for the region — in terms of additional GVA generated and new jobs created — of realising these ambitions.

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