Research vacancies in the West Midlands

NHS Institute for Innovation and ImprovementThe NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement is currently advertising for two posts in their Research and Evaluation team on a secondment and maternity cover basis.

The posts are both full time and based at the University of Warwick Campus in Coventry. For details on how to apply, job description and contacts, visit the NHS Institute website.

Staffordshire County CouncilAlso, Staffordshire County Council are seeking an experienced research officer to lead the corporate research team within the County Council’s Research Unit. More details on

Growth in West Midlands public sector employment highlighted by report

FTIn recent days, the findings of a report by the Financial Times into the distribution of employment between the Public and Private Sectors, with particular reference to the West Midlands, has been further commented on in reports by a number of other national papers.

The primary findings of the report were that between 1998 and 2006, 1.3 million of the 2.2 million jobs created in the UK (hence approximately 60%) were in the Public Sector.

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Observatory attends conference on credit crunch

coinsI was invited to join leading commentators and academics at a key conference at Cambridge University to examine the causes and possible cures of the current financial crisis.

The conference, The Big Crunch and the Big Bang was organised by the Cambridge Trust brought together delegates from universities across Europe, policy heads and businesses.

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West Midlands Rural Affairs Forum Conference 2008

Man pinning information to a notice boardDelegates gathered at the Holiday Inn in Bromsgrove on 12th November 2008 for the fifth West Midlands Rural Affairs Forum conference.

The Observatory was asked to present at the event and talk about the State of the Region with particular reference to some of the key challenges likely to be faced by the region’s rural communities.

The main challenges facing the rural West Midlands are not new ones—ageing population and housing affordability in particular—nor are the rural parts of the region immune to the effects of the credit crunch but these challenges can often mask opportunities.

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New report projects regional job losses of 180,000 – how was that calculated?

Jobs in newspaper imageA report prepared by researchers at Public and Corporate Economic Consultants on behalf of the Local Government Association projects the economic downturn could lead to a decline in employment across the region of 180,000. This was widely publicised in The Birmingham Post.

The Observatory undertakes a significant amount of economic research and so it is important that the method by which the headline figure, 180,000 is understood. This short posting is intended to explain how this headline projection was reached.

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Gender wage gap widening in the West Midlands

Office for National Statistics logoThe Office for National Statistics have just released the 2008 Annual Survey of Hours & Earnings data, which refers to the position in April 2008.

The statistics indicate that the median gross weekly earnings for full time employee jobs in the United Kingdom was £479, an increase of 4.6% year-​on-​year. Earnings grew more for men (up 4.6% to £521), than women (up 4.4% to £412), and hence the gender gap in full-time ​hourly earnings has increased from 12.5% in 2007, to 12.8% in the latest figures.

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Major new study on MG Rover by Birmingham University published

As reported by the Economy and Labour Force Bulletin in February, researchers at Birmingham University were undertaking a comprehensive study on the long term impacts of the closure of MG Rover.

The report has now been published and can be downloaded from the Work Foundation (PDF, 890kb).
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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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West Midlands’ economy continues to feel economic pain

Up and down arrowsThe prospects for the regional economy continue to worsen in the short term as new data further emphasises a deepening contraction of economic activity.

The CIPS/Markit Purchasing Managers Indices (PMI) for the West Midlands were released on 10 Novemember. The PMI is an important indicator of the short term economic prospects and it is widely used to inform policy

The PMI pointed to an acceleration of the downturn in October. The key headlines are:

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We’re recruiting for a Research Analyst

Logo of West Midlands Regional ObservatoryWe currently have a vacancy for a Research Analyst to join us at the West Midlands Regional Observatory. Further details about the role and how to apply are available from Advantage West Midlands.

For other information please contact our Recruitment Hotline on 0121 503 3444.

The closing date is 28 November 2008 for applications has now passed.

Changes to benefits system

Employment and Support Allowance - Working for a better lifeImportant changes were made to the benefits system in October 2008 which will have a major impact on claimants of incapacity benefits.

The aim is to simplify the system, and support claimants to return to work in line with the Government’s welfare to work policies and target of 80% employment rate.

Employment and Support Allowance is the new benefit that replaces Incapacity Benefit and Income Support (on incapacity grounds) for new customers from 27 October 2008.

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Questionnaire on benefits of local information systems

Chart showing upward trendThis questionnaire is part of a research project, commissioned by the Department for Communities and Local Government, to investigate the way users of local information systems benefit from the data and statistics the systems provide. The aim of the questionnaire is to obtain information about how you use the system and the way it helps you.

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Digital Mentors: invitation to tender

Communities and Local GovernmentThe Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) are inviting individual organisations and consortia to bid to co-ordinate the development of a network of ”Digital Mentors” to help people in deprived communities in England develop skills in using social and community media.

More details on the invitation to tender and the role of digital mentors—including an Expression of Interest form and workshop details for those interested in tendering—are available from Communities and Local Government (doc, 136kb).

There is also a discussion forum for further debate on the Digital Mentors initiative.