Endorsement of our Economic Inclusion research

Here’s a short video featuring Trudi Elliott, Chair of the West Midlands Economic Inclusion Panel, endorsing our economic inclusion research:

Watch on viddler

State of the West Midlands 2010 report published

State of the West Midlands 2010

The State of the West Midlands 2010 report is now available, accessible through this interactive website or as a pdf download (1.74 Mb).

The report sets out the evidence about some of the key challenges facing the West Midlands and its localities. Since the general election earlier in the year, much has changed in the way that the West Midlands is governed, but the big issues that it faces remain. Issues such as the growing economic output gap, high levels of worklessness, skills levels, the ageing population, the consequences of climate change and the poor image of the West Midlands.

This year, for the first time, we have published the report in an interactive web version (as well as a pdf -1.74Mb). This will allow you to provide comments on the report, as well as providing easy access to the issues that are of most interest to you.

The multiple risk factors of worklessness

By isolating the ‘risk factors’ and certain combinations of ‘risk factors’ associated with a person’s chance of being out of work, new analysis from the West Midlands Observatory can help decision makers get to grips with the complex interplay of issues behind the current high rate of worklessness across the West Midlands.

The research is already informing the Department for Work and Pensions in its review of welfare policy, as it provides insights into the major factors influencing a person’s chances of being in or out of work. It shows that these chances can vary greatly according to the individual’s background and personal characteristics. The research demonstrates how combinations of factors such as having no formal qualifications or a long-term health problem or disability, or being a lone parent, affect a person’s chance of being out of work.

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New research shows targeted welfare to work provision is necessary to reduce worklessness

Welfare to work programmes aimed at getting people back into work should take a ‘whole person’ approach, rather than tackling factors such as age, ethnicity or disability in isolation, according to new research from the West Midlands Regional Observatory carried out on behalf of the West Midlands Economic Inclusion Panel.

The research findings confirm those of other studies by the Observatory, that the West Midlands has one of the highest rates of worklessness in England, with some disadvantaged groups experiencing much higher rates of worklessness than others.

The latest research provides insights into the major factors influencing a person’s chances of being in or out of work and shows that these can vary greatly according to the individual’s background and personal characteristics.  The research demonstrates how combinations of factors such as having no formal qualifications or a long-term health problem or disability, or being a lone parent, affect a person’s chance of being out of work.

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How is the Rural Regeneration Zone doing?

This post shares key findings from our annual monitoring report on the Rural Regeneration Zone (RRZ) carried out over 2009 and 2010.  The final report will be published shortly.

Impact of project work

Since the RRZ was set up, the area has improved in many ways.  So far 1,400 new jobs have been created and 800 existing jobs have been safeguarded.  More jobs are expected to be created (1,500) and safeguarded (200) by 2015.

RRZ investment in multi-use facilities has also improved access to services.  The main improvements have been around:

  • Childcare provision – 845 more places each week
  • Volunteering opportunities – 165 more places
  • Library services – 37,700 more library projects
  • Development of new services – 98 new or enhanced services in towns and villages

Projects such as Connections to Opportunities, Rethink and Care Farming are delivering further improvements in the RRZ.  More details are included in the report.

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New plan to harness £16 billion public spending for local benefit

A new plan that could help local people benefit from £16 billion of government spending in the West Midlands was launched by Regional Minister, Ian Austin, this week.

And he said government spending would be used to boost employment for people in the West Midlands and help access “local jobs for local people.”

The new West Midlands Procurement Framework for jobs and skills has been developed by the West Midlands Economic Inclusion Panel. This brings leaders from across the public, private and third sectors together to find ways to tackle the £3bn output gap ascribed to worklessness in the West Midlands.

Set up in 2008 to address the region’s worklessness challenge, the Economic Inclusion Panel  has focussed on developing a strategic approach to public procurement as a key driver in tackling worklessness. The Observatory’s economic inclusion team works closely with the Panel to provide evidence of the challenges facing the region.

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New research on employment gap between white and BME communities in the West Midlands

Cover of briefing paper on employment and BME groups in the West MidlandsThere is a large gap between the employment rates of the white population and the black and minority ethnic (BME) population and this gap is bigger in the West Midlands than nationally.

74% of working age white people are in employment in the West Midlands (compared to 76% nationally), while 54% of working age BME people are in employment (compared to 60% nationally).

A new briefing paper (pdf, 761kb) from the Observatory’s economic inclusion research team explores the nature of this employment gap and other issues around minority ethnic groups and the labour market.

Download the briefing on employment and black and minority ethnic groups in the West Midlands (pdf , 761kb)

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Electronic marketplaces: a way to tackle worklessness?

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation have just published a think-piece on electronic markets (pdf, 1.09mb) by Wingham Rowan, project director of Slivers-of-Time.

The underlying premise is simple: there are plenty of people who would like to work, but can’t commit to regular hours because of family commitments or recurring medical conditions.

There are also lots of businesses which could benefit from hiring people for an hour or two at a time at short notice, without all of the overheads associated with traditional recruitment agencies.

Slivers-of-Time working is designed to connect the two using online electronic marketplaces—a sort of ‘eBay for jobs’—in a way that could help ease workless people back into the workforce and supply businesses with a flexible pool of vouchsafed, accredited labour.

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Mental ill-health is a growing cause of unemployment in the West Midlands

Mental health and employment report coverA new report, Mental Health and Employment in the West Midlands (PDF, 483kb) by the West Midlands Regional Observatory highlights the growing problem of mental ill-health in the region.

Following the Economic Inclusion Baseline Report for the West Midlands (PDF, 2.16mb) published in April 2009, which found mental ill-health to be one of the biggest causes of worklessness in the region, our new report focuses on the issue of mental health and employment.

The report provides information and statistics on the links between mental health problems and employment issues within the West Midlands, as well as reviewing recent research and policy options aimed at overcoming employment barriers.

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What are the causes of worklessness?

paper_pileThe Observatory’s economic inclusion team recently posted on this site to ask for any information on the causes and dynamics of worklessness for a literature review. The completed literature review is now available.

Key findings from the review are that:

  • several groups of people are at high risk of worklessness – these include people in poor health, lone parents, some minority ethnic groups, social tenants, carers, and ex-offenders.
  • disability/poor health and low qualifications are 2 of the most common barriers to employment
  • many other barriers to employment were identified including a lack of work experience, low confidence, caring responsibilities, employer attitudes, poor public transport and the structure of the benefits system
  • several factors influence a person’s decision to re-enter employment but the longer someone has been out of work, the less likely they are to return.

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More likely to die or retire than work again

After two years claiming incapacity benefit, a person is more likely to die or retire than work again, according to research highlighted in a recent report by the West Midlands Regional Observatory.

The Economic Inclusion Baseline Report for the West Midlands (pdf, 1.06mb), shows the facts behind what has become a significant problem for the region.

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New research on economic inclusion in the West Midlands

Cover of economic inclusion baseline reportThe Observatory’s Economic Inclusion team has published a Baseline Report on Economic Inclusion (PDF, 2.16MB) pulling together regional analysis of key issues relating to worklessness, unemployment and economic inclusion in the West  Midlands.

This is the first comprehensive review of these key issues at regional level and the analysis enables consideration of the scale and distribution of worklessness problem within the region.

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Worklessness and sustainable employment: Call for information

paper_pileThe Observatory’s Economic Inclusion team is currently investigating what evidence, data and research is available on these two topics:

  • Causes of worklessness
    This will include looking at the relationships between causal factors such as poor health, poverty, poor skills etc., movements in and out of the labour market and the dynamics of worklessness, issues of benefit dependency and benefits as a disincentive to formal employment.
  • Sustainability of employment
    In particular, we are looking for data and research that show how long people stay in work once entering employment after a period of worklessness. We would also be interested in any data or research that is available that considers factors such as demography, geography and industrial sector and the influence that these might have on sustainable employment.

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