Cultural Research and Intelligence Network newsletter: call for information

Thumbnail of CRAIN newsletter

The next Cultural Research & Intelligence Network (CRAIN) newsletter is due out in October 2008.

If you have any information on recent research and intelligence in the arts, media, heritage, sports, play and/or tourism fields that you would like to share with the 120+ CRAIN members across the West Midlands region, please forward them to me ( by Friday 17th October 2008.

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WMRO contributes to national research on innovation index

Presenters at the workshop on measuring innovation, Birmingham City University, 4 September 2008Following the recent workshop on measuring innovation for successful delivery held at Birmingham City University, the Observatory’s Innovation and Enterprise team submitted a response to NESTA‘s call for ideas on the regional innovation index project.

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Regional Skills Assessment 2008: key issues for employers

We produce the Regional Skills Assessment each year, providing commentary on the changing labour market in the West Midlands to inform the work of a wide range of organisations. This post highlights key issues for employers arising from our skills assessment work this year.

Over the last five years there has been a significant shift in the balance of employment from manufacturing to services:

  • There has been significant new job creation in private sector services such as business & professional services, retail, hotels & catering and in public sector services such as health & social care, education and public administration. Continue reading

Regional Skills Assessment 2008: key issues for individuals and communities

Student common room at Aston UniversityWe produce the Regional Skills Assessment each year, providing commentary on the changing labour market to inform the work of a wide range of organisations.

In this article, I’m highlighting key issues for individuals and communities from our skills assessment work in 2008.

There have been significant local and sub-regional variations in skills and labour market trends and issues in recent years. In particular:

Some parts of the region have benefited significantly from employment growth in recent years. There have been notable benefits in:

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State of the Region dialogue on the knowledge economy

The new state of the region process aims to engage with the region’s policy and decision makers on a range of key issues.

One of these is the knowledge economy. While UK demand for higher level skills is mediocre by international standards (with 28% of the working age population qualified to level 4 or above the UK was 11th of the 30 OECD countries in 2006), this is even weaker in the West Midlands. Less than 24% of those working in private sector industries in the West Midlands region had higher level skills and qualifications, well below the England average of 28%.

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Wychavon the best council to work for say employees

Evesham Town Centre

Evesham Town Centre

Wychavon District Council has been nominated as the “Best Council to Work For” based on a survey supported by IDeA, Local Government Employers (LGE), Best Companies Ltd, and The Times newspaper.

It was also selected as the best council for training and developing its staff in the 2008 survey. Three other West Midlands councils were in the top 25: Malvern Hills (19), Warwick (22) and Stratford (25).

Last year Wychavon was runner-up to Vale Royal District Council. The survey aims to shine a spotlight on good council employers and what they do to get the best out of their people. It is voted for by those who work there.

For more information, visit the Best Councils to Work For 2008 website.

New and emerging challenges of population change

On 16th September 2008, we hosted a full day seminar at the Observatory on new and emerging challenges of population change. The presentations by each of the speakers are now available to download.

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Purchase of Information Project: a survey of lifestyle data [UPDATED – 23.09.08]

Purchase of Information Project – Have you considered, used or purchased ‘lifestyle’ customer insight information?

The Local Government Information House (LGIH) and the Improvement & Development Agency (IDeA) are launching a research project into the purchase and use of ‘lifestyle’ customer insight information in the public sector. They need your help!

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Public art think tank seek board members

ixia, the public art think tank, is looking to develop its board of directors/trustees to support its work.

ixia is a charity which aims to provide an independent and objective view of the factors that affect the quality of artists’ work in the public realm. They do this by undertaking research, enabling debate and effecting change at a strategic level.

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Have your say!

We at the Observatory aim to provide you with a first class information service on the region, and a website that makes this easy for you to do. Recently we have been thinking about what we could do to improve finding information on our website and how we could lay it out better for you.

To help me with this I would be very grateful if you could give me five minutes of your time to complete an online questionnaire about it.

Please use this link to access the questionnaire

Sponsorship opportunities at the WMRO Annual Conference 2008: an update

Sponsorship of our Annual Conference on Monday 13th October at the Royal Court Hotel, Coventry is continuing to be very successful with a wide range of sponsors now confirmed.

Exhibition stands from ESRI UK, Geowise, Renewal Magazine, Regional Action West Midlands, Advantage West Midlands and Care Services Improvement Partnership will be appearing in the entrance hall of the conference.

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Information on Joint Strategic Needs Assessments

Department of HealthThe Department of Health has produced a set of pages providing useful information on Joint Strategic Needs Assessments (JSNAs).

Local authorities and PCTs have been under a statutory duty to produce JSNAs since April 1 this year to inform Local Area Agreements and the Sustainable Communities Strategy as a result of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007.

The Department of Health site includes guidance, tools and resources, details of the core dataset and some useful links and news updates… pretty much everything you need to know about JSNAs!

Map competition for schools

We’re holding a competition for school children to make a map of their local area, being as creative as possible. Glitter, egg boxes, crayons, pens, felt and sticky back plastic; whatever you want!

Up for grabs in prizes are:

  • A digital camera, software and printer package for the winning class or school.
  • An atlas.
  • The winning artwork will feature on our website.

The competition is being held in association with ESRI UK to tie in with the West Midlands Geographical Information Day we’re currently planning for the 19 November 2008.

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