Roundup of communicating information and data through storytelling part 2

Groups working together at Communicating Effectively event

Photo by David Cheeseman

This post rounds up the second communicating effectively – telling stories using data workshop, which was held in Birmingham, 22nd April 2010.

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Breaking into the Low Carbon Economyhttp://wmro.wordpress.com/2010/02/12/higher-level-skills-can-help-boost-the-region%e2%80%99s-economic-recovery/

Car breakers and recyclers, along with the construction industry, could benefit significantly from existing and future low carbon legislation according to research from the West Midlands Regional Observatory.

The low carbon agenda is gaining pace as the West Midlands seeks a way out of recession, because of the range of opportunities that it provides.

In a low carbon economy businesses deliver products and services, while reducing their level of carbon emissions. We tend to link the low carbon economy with high-tech industry and high levels of innovation, technology and investment. However, the Observatory’s research has found that the opportunities stretch well beyond hydrogen cells, solar panels, electric cars and science parks. There are a number of opportunities for the rest of the region’s economy.

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Better Evidence… Better Funding Bids event roundup

The Observatory and Regional Action West Midlands jointly organised Better Evidence… Better Funding Bids, an event held in Birmingham on 19th March.

The aim of the event was to highlight the importance of evidence in funding applications. 50 delegates from a range of voluntary and public sector organisations attended the day.

This post rounds up videos, presentation slides, links and reaction to the event.

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Observatory website survey reponses now available

Thank you to everyone who completed the Observatory’s recent website satisfaction survey. We have taken all of your responses and comments on board and are now working on making our website more user friendly.

As part of our review of web services, we’re planning the following actions based on your responses:

  • Improve the profile of research gaps on wmro.org
  • Ensure all records in the Resource Catalogue have a metadata summary page
  • Remove the Directory of Specialists from the website, create a network group in LinkedIn and encourage users to relocate their profiles there.
  • Remove the organisations directory from wmro.org

Following more investigation with users, we’ll also review the future of the Register of Consultants.

We’ve decided to remove some of our website services (Directory of Specialists, organisations directory and possibly the Register of Consultants) based on the results of the survey.

The results showed that these areas are rarely used, are not valued and of limited importance.

This will allow us to concentrate our efforts on those areas of the website we know are of high importance to most users:

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Higher level skills can help boost the region’s economic recovery

It’s no secret that the West Midlands has been harder hit by the recession than any other UK region. Indeed economic growth has been slower than that of many other regions for a number of years. This reflects long standing structural problems which mean we have relatively few high growth businesses. As a result, economic recovery in the West Midlands is expected to be difficult and protracted. Although headline regional Gross Value Added (GVA) is expected to begin to rise this year, an upturn in employment is not expected until 2012 – and projections show that it could be well into the next decade before the region reaches the peak levels of employment seen in 2008.

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Regional Skills Assessment published

The Regional Skills Assessment for 2009 is now available. This extensive research gives an overview of the changing needs of the West Midlands’ labour market, along with a detailed exploration of key issues by sector, by sub-region and for key groups.

This year’s main report presents a few distinctive sections compared to previous years. It mainly focuses on recent trends, looking also at the impact of recession and prospects for recovery.

The main report is complemented by two reports identifying the main skills needs and issues in each of the region’s key sectors and clusters.

The Assessment also includes a series of six detailed sub-​regional skills profiles assessing recent trends and future prospects for both the demand for and supply of skills. The profiles highlight key issues to support, in particular, development of Local Economic Assessments by local authorities, the commissioning of 16-​19 learning provision and the work of sub-​regional Employment and Skills Boards. The sub-regional assessments cover:

  • Birmingham and Solihull
  • Black Country
  • Coventry and Warwickshire
  • Herefordshire and Worcestershire
  • Shropshire
  • Staffordshire

In addition, there’s an entire chapter dedicated to future prospects in the region’s labour market with forecasts covering both short-​medium term (2009 to 2014) and long term (to 2024), using the Observatory’s economic forecasting model.

View the Regional Skills Assessment 2009 pages on wmro.org

Key contact: Andy Phillips, Head of Skills Research

2009 Skills Assessment and regional skills policy

The productivity gap in the West Midlands regional economy appears to be widening, despite a narrowing skills gap.

This was one of the key issues arising at a dissemination event for the Observatory’s Regional Skills Assessment held last Friday at the Observatory.

A range of attendees, including higher education representatives and policy officers from organisations including Advantage West Midlands, Sector Skills Councils, the City Region Partnership and Jobcentre Plus, discussed the implications of the Regional Skills Assessment on policy in the West Midlands.

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Take part in Observatory website survey

We launched a survey this morning asking what you think of the West Midlands Regional Observatory website – and we would very much value your feedback.

The aim of the survey is to learn what users think of the website and how it can be improved.

The survey should only take 3 minutes to complete and will remain open for the next two weeks, closing 12th February.

Please go here to complete the survey.

Thanks in advance for taking part. Your responses will directly influence how the website is developed.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

Despite a positive performance in the last quarter of 2009, the Cultural Observatory’s latest recession snapshot (pdf, 311kb) suggests the West Midlands’ cultural sector is facing a period of ‘funding uncertainty’.

Evidence highlighted in the paper suggests that while many local cultural organisations remain optimistic about the short-term stability of core funding sources, perception of funding security is low compared to confidence levels pre-recession.

Spines of books on a shelf in a libraryIn the Cultural Observatory’s own economic survey with local cultural organisations, 72% of respondents stated that they were ‘less optimistic’ about the stability of core funding sources compared to 2007.

Against a backdrop of funding concerns, the research shows that the cultural sector continued to see increases in numbers of customers through the door in the last three months of 2009, building on the unusually high increase in footfall seen over the summer.

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Skills needed to kick start the West Midlands economic recovery

While there are tentative signs of an upturn in the labour market, with more firms looking to recruit new staff and invest in training, the economic recovery is expected to be weak and protracted.

Headline regional GVA is not expected to begin to rise until 2010 and an upturn in employment is not expected until 2012:

Chart showing annual percentage change in employment and GVA forecast for the West Midlands 2007-2016

Chart: Base forecast: West Midlands trends in employment and value added. Source: Observatory Integrated Policy Model. View full size chart (png, 18kb).

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What will be the key drivers for the West Midlands’ future? Notes from ‘Regional Drivers for the Future’ workshop at the Observatory’s 2009 conference

Chap-3_v1.0_image_ONThere was little disagreement from workshop participants with Gill Bentley‘s opening suggestion that ‘this recession is almost tantamount to war’ in terms of its impact on the region’s prosperity.

Dr Chris Upton‘s account, in chapter 1 of West Midlands: Fit for the Future? (PDF, 5.7mb), of the devastating impact that the 1790s war with France had on the region’s manufacturing industry served as a fitting backdrop for the workshop debate, which asked participants to address the question:

‘What will be the key drivers for the region’s future?’

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Presentations and speeches from Annual Conference

Rosie Paskins, Richard Hyde and Richard Woolhouse at the West Midlands Regional Observatory's Annual Conference 2009

Left to right: Rosie Paskins, Richard Hyde, Richard Woolhouse

We held our Annual Conference, titled ‘West Midlands: Fit for the Future?’, yesterday in Sutton Coldfield.

The focus of the conference was on the economic recovery of the West Midlands, rather than the recession, and how we best position the West Midlands for the economic recovery.

The conference followed on from the book West Midlands: Fit for the Future? we launched back in July 2009.

The speeches and workshop discussions generated a great deal of debate, challenges and ideas on steps for the region’s policy makers, and those supporting policy with evidence, to now take forward.

The workshops generated a lot of content, which we’ll share on this blog over the next few days (slides, questions, and ways forward).

Here are the presentations and audio from the four speakers in the main conference room:

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Live blogging the Observatory’s Annual Conference

West Midlands: Fit for the Future?Our 2009 Annual Conference, titled West Midlands: Fit for the Future?, takes place tomorrow in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham.

You can keep up-to-date with comments and tweets about the conference as it unfolds on the day using this CoverItLive liveblog (replay the liveblog here).

You can add comments directly in the liveblog itself or by sending a tweet containing the hashtag #wmroconf09.

All the content surrounding the conference—slides, photos, useful links, videos, blog posts, tweets, and so on—is being aggregated on this Pageflakes. Again, tag any content you want to share with wmroconf09.

The conference is on Tuesday, 20th October. The liveblog will open at 10am.

Feedback on Sharing Information Digitally event

Cutout figures connected by green light

We hosted an event on Sharing Information Digitally on 7th October 2009 at Millennium Point in Birmingham.

We tried a new structure for this event—part traditional presentations, part practical sessions—and thought we’d share some feedback on the event (from attendees and ourselves).

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Roundup from Sharing Information Digitally event

Cutout figures connected by green light

Yesterday’s event at Millennium Point looked at the whys and hows of making public data more accessible.

There were also some practical discussions looking at using social media and online tools to improve sharing data and information.

Richard Wilson, from Sandwell PCT and Chair of the Population & Society Group, chaired the day. You can listen to his introduction:


This post rounds up all the main speakers and resources from the event.

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