Give us a Twirl!

twirlThe Observatory’s resource catalogue continues to grow, giving policy and decision makers across the West Midlands improved access to data and research to support evidence-based decision making.

The development and growth of the catalogue has been achieved by working in partnership with West Midlands and sub-regional organisations to help share and publicise data and research about the West Midlands. Organisations such as Coventry City Council, Centro and Advantage West Midlands have all worked with us to share their intelligence through the catalogue.

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Future of the West Midlands

The future of the West Midlands reportAt the end of January, I attended and spoke at an interesting event to launch a new report The Future of the West Midlands (pdf, 361kb).

The Smith Institute, an independent social and economic research think tank based in London, organised the event.

The report aims to raise the level of debate about the future of the West Midlands and highlight what policy changes are needed to make a real and lasting difference to the region.

With the forthcoming reforms to regional and local government through the sub national review, this debate is very timely and gains an added significance.

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Use your intelligence!

ncvo-eventAndy Phillips (our Head of Skills Research) and I will be running a workshop at the forthcoming “Influencing Policy, Driving Change” conference on 26 February 2009, organised by Regional Action West Midlands in partnership with the National Council for Voluntary Organisations.

The event will help voluntary and community (VCS) organisations understand the policy environment and engage in local, regional and national decision-making so that their works brings about real change.

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New research on labour market and training experiences of older workers in the West Midlands

lsc-older-workers-reportResearch commissioned by the Learning and Skills Council shows that employers in the West Midlands are increasingly aware of the benefits of older job applicants when searching for recruits with personal qualities such as loyalty, experience and reliability.

Other perceived advantages include practical issues such as better retention, fewer training needs, and fewer family and childcare commitments.

There are nearly one million people aged over 50 still of normal working age in the West Midlands, out of a total population of more than five million.

The study, Labour Market and Training Experiences of Older Workers in the West Midlands (PDF, 800kb), aims to inform future learning and skills policy so that the regional economy derives maximum benefit from this age cohort and individuals in it have access to opportunities that enable them to continue to fulfil their potential.

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Jobseekers allowance claimant statistics give cause for concern in Birmingham

Four of Birmingham’s parliamentary constituencies are listed amongst the five worst in the UK in terms of the proportion of the resident working-age population claiming Jobseekers allowance, according to figures for December 2008 released by the Department for Work and Pensions.

The constituencies are Birmingham Ladywood (9.9% up 1% year-on-year), Birmingham Hodge Hill (8.3% up 1.5%), Birmingham Sparkbrook & Small Heath (8.1% up 0.9%), and Birmingham Erdington (7.4% up 1.8%).

The only constituency listed in the worst five not in Birmingham was Liverpool Walton, with a Jobseekers claimant rate of 7.4%. Wolverhampton South East was listed as having the sixth worst claimant rate of the 660 parliamentary constituencies at 7% (up 1.7%).

The BBC recession tracker provides a map of the UK illustrating these statistics, in which Birmingham can easily be seen as a Jobseekers allowance claimant ‘hot spot’.

Download the full list of statistics for all constituencies (XLS, 86kb).

Local Information Systems network event

Communities and Local GovernmentOn 29th January, Communities and Local Government hosted a network event on local information systems designed to enable colleagues to learn from one another’s experience and consider the future of local information systems.

The event was well attended by a range of organisations from across the country including the ONS, Communities and Local Government, the Environment Agency, the West Midlands Regional Observatory, the Black Country Observatory, a number of Local Authorities, in addition to several consultancies.

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