The economic downturn – impact on skills and the labour market

November 2008 economic downturn briefing paperOur November 2008 briefing paper on the Economic Downturn, produced by WMRO’s Skills team, examines how the current economic climate is affecting the West Midlands in terms of skills and the labour market as a whole.

Here are the key headlines for quarter 3 of 2008:

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West Midlands produced 3rd strongest regional growth in England, according to latest GVA per head figures

Land Rover production lineThe 2007 Regional and 2006 Sub-Regional Gross Value Added (GVA) data are released today by the Office for National Statistics. Indexed GVA per head (where UK=100) for the West Midlands in 2007 was 86.0, a marginal decrease from the revised 2006 index value of 86.1. GVA per head in the West Midlands rose from £16,300 in 2006 to £17,200 in 2007, an increase of 5.3% compared to a 5.3% increase in GVA per head across the UK, and a 5.4% increase in England.

In the latest data for 2007 the West Midlands in regards to GVA per head is ranked seventh amongst the nine English regions, where London is the strongest performer at £30,400 and the North East is the least strong at £15,700. In total, regional GVA for the West Midlands in 2007 was £92.4bn, an increase of £4.9bn on the revised figures for 2006.

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2008 Black Country education barometer published

Black Country Education BarometerThe Black Country Observatory has published the Black Country Education Barometer 2008 today.

The report indicates that Black Country schools are starting to close the gap with the national average GCSE performance.

There was a 6.6% increase in the percentage of Black Country pupils achieving 5+ A*-C GCSEs (compared to 4.2% nationally) and an 8% rise in pupils achieving 5+ A*-C GCSEs including English and Maths (compared to 2.6% nationally).

The Black Country must grow by 9.2% each year to reach the national average (in GCSE inc. Eng & Maths) by 2011.

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West Midlands population projected to grow by near 3% between 2007 and 2012

Office for National Statistics logoThe National Statistician’s annual article on the population has been published by the Office for National Statistics, covering the theme of aging and mortality, investigating the underlying demographic trends contributing to the UK’s population growth. The report also highlights key sub-national demographic statistics.

The UK’s population is projected to increase from 61 million in 2007 to 63.2 million in 2012 (3.7% growth), whereas over the same period in the West Midlands region the population is projected to increase from 5.4 million to 5.5 million (2.9% growth), the third lowest percentage increase of the nine English regions. The North East and North West are the only regions projected to record slower growth, whilst the East Midlands is forecast to experience the fastest with a population increase of 5.4%.

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Sharing intelligence from Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire

Yesterday, I attended the Coventry, Solihull and Wawickshire Researchers’ Forum to demonstrate the Observatory’s Resource Catalogue and show how the data and intelligence in the catalogue might support the work that they’re engaged in, and also to encourage further contributions to the catalogue from members of the forum to help share their data and intelligence across the region and sub-region.

The Resource Catalogue is available through the Observatory’s website and collects research, data and policy documents from across the West Midlands to create a fully searchable database for policy makers, decision makers, researchers and anyone else to access. There are contributions from organisations across the public, private and third sectors and what is particularly useful is that almost all are free and available immediately via a web-link.

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Heart of enterprise: West Midlands feature in the Guardian

guardian200812031Wednesday’s Guardian newspaper included a special supplement to the Society Guardian all about the West Midlands, Heart of enterprise. If you missed it, all of the articles are available online.

The supplement includes commentary by Ian Austin MP, who re-iterated points made during his inaugural speech as Regional Minister for the West Midlands at the Observatory’s annual conference back in October 2008.

There are also articles looking at how the region is being affected by the current economic situation and what steps are being taken to address the current challenges. Regeneration schemes in the Black Country, Birmingham and North Staffordshire are featured.

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Investment in skills critical to survive the downturn

Continued investment in training and skills is key for business survival in the current economic downturn, according to new research released by the West Midlands Regional Observatory .

The Regional Skills Assessment for 2008 reports that in the five year period from 2003 to 2007, increased investment in skills and training significantly reduced skills shortages in the region. This meant that employers could more easily access the skills they needed to develop and grow.BMW assembly line

Historically, the West Midlands has lagged behind the rest of England in terms of skills performance, but statistics show that from 2003 to 2007 the performance gap reduced from six percentage points to less than one per-cent.

Much of this improvement was due to a strong upturn in the number of employers investing in staff training, through apprenticeship programmes and initiatives such as the Learning & Skills Council’s Train to Gain service.
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