Worcestershire awarded grant to promote intergenerational volunteering

FamilyWorcestershire has been awarded part of a £5.5 million grant as part of a cross-government scheme to promote intergenerational volunteering. The Generations Together campaign aims to encourage meaningful interaction between young and old generations across the region.

Over the next two years £386,800 will be available for Worcestershire’s transferable skills project. This project aims to provide more than 700 community project volunteers, both young and old, with additional skills to encourage greater understanding between generations, challenge negative stereotypes and increase interaction between different age groups.

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Place matters

UK mapA recent discussion between a panel of experts assembled by the Government Computing magazine and ESRI highlighted that the UK needs to make the most of  its location or geographical data.

Participants, including Brian Higgs from the Observatory’s Geographical Information group, believe that organisations need to encourage the sharing of location specific data in order to improve decision making processes.

Location information is perceived as a critical element of  the contingency planning  system and can be used to understand what or who is physically at risk, and to assess social and economic value.

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Inward investment: record high for West Midlands

In the period 2008 to 2009 the West Midlands region received 117 foreign direct investment (FDI) projects, a record high since records began in 1991 (shown by the blue line in the graph below).

Bar chart shows increase in foreign direct investment into the West Midlands between 1991 and 2009

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Places Handbook Pocket guide launched to enhance policy implementation

Government Office logoThe Government Offices for the English Regions has launched the Places Handbook Pocket guide, an online set of tools, to assist Government officers (GOs) in implementing  policies effectively and efficiently across Local Authorities.

A key component of the guide is the delivery cycle, which focuses on analysis, planning, delivery and performance and how to utilise these processes efficently to achieve  targets in Local Authorities.

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Observatory launches new book ‘West Midlands: Fit for the Future?’

Stack of West Midlands: Fit for the Future? booksA new book from the Observatory, West Midlands: Fit for the Future?, was launched yesterday.

The book aims to stimulate debate, promote discussion and influence policy on the future growth of the West Midlands region. The focus is on the future prosperity of the West Midlands, rather than on the effects of the recession, and exploring the region’s ability to maximise its potential as we move out of the downturn.

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Black Country Observatory seeks secondee to manage the team

Black Country see it in colourOur colleagues at the Black Country Observatory are currently advertising for a secondee to cover the maternity leave of the Observatory’s senior manager, Delma Dwight.

The secondment will be for six months, starting from 1st October 2009. The closing date for applications is Friday 31st July. Interviews will take place on Tuesday 11th August.

Get more details about the role and how to apply (DOC, 39kB).

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Rising unemployment: West Midlands is the worst affected region

Office for National Statistics logoThe West Midlands has been hardest hit by the recession, has seen the biggest rise in unemployment and is the first region in England where the unemployment rate has topped 10%.

New Labour Market Statistics (PDF, 328kb) released on 15th July 2009 by the Office for National Statistics show the unemployment rate in the West Midlands increased to 10.3% in the quarter to May 2009.

There are now more than a quarter of a million (276,000) people in the region out of work. Since the previous quarter, a further 52,000 people in the region have become unemployed.

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Building a low carbon country

Ed Miliband MP

Ed Miliband MP

The transition to a low-carbon economy will be one of the defining issues of the 21st century. This plan sets out a route-map for the UK’s transition from here to 2020.

Ed Miliband MP, 15 July 2009

Ed Miliband, Secretary of State of Energy and Climate Change, yesterday launched  a national strategy for climate and energy.

The UK Low Carbon Transition Plan is the government’s plan for how the UK will meet the cut in emissions set out in the budget of 34% on 1990 levels by 2020.

The government has placed transforming the country into a cleaner, greener and more prosperous place at the heart of its new economic plans. This document is their way of ensuring that the UK is ready to take advantage of the opportunities ahead.

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Tender for women’s enterprise research

Jewellery makingThe Women’s Enterprise Centre of Expertise has released a tender to conduct women’s enterprise research in the West Midlands.

The deadline for submissions is 21st July 2009.

Research rationale

There is currently a gap in regional women’s enterprise research which takes a strategic view of policy, documentary and research evidence, even though much has been done to promote the agenda across the region.

The absence of such a strategic view means that there is potential for women’s enterprise support to be divided into staged programmes (pre-start, start and growth as separate delivery systems).

The consequence of this division is that those programmes that cannot directly be seen to contribute to regional value-added, as they are too small or development, run the risk of losing budget or being stopped altogether because they cannot meet the strict evaluation criteria represented by Gross Value Added indicators.

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Modelling population change in the West Midlands: call for information

Crowd walking up and down stairsHow do you try to understand the changes that are happening in your populations? Have you developed a model to try to understand population change? If so, we would be interested to hear from you.

As part of our State of the Region dialogue on population change, we’re looking for regional examples of how people have modelled population change, particularly where they are not based on the Office for National Statistics’ population projections.

We know that there are several different models used across the West Midlands in different policy areas. In this year’s State of the Region report we will try to bring these together and summarise the various models that are used.
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Investment in higher level skills needed to kick start the region’s recovery

Person sat next to computer screens at Serious Games Institute, Coventry UniversityInvestment in higher level skills is vital to kick start the region’s recovery from recession but the proportion of the workforce qualified to degree level or above is well below the national average, particularly in the private sector.

New research (pdf, 258kb) by the West Midlands Regional Observatory shows that overall investment in skills and training is holding up despite the recession.

In the first quarter of 2009, three quarters of manufacturing firms and 80% of service sector firms were planning to either increase or maintain levels of spending on training despite the recession – in both cases the second highest proportion in England.

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Views of life sciences sector delivered to Government

Medilink West MidlandsFollowing the recent call to the the life sciences sector to gather views on what Government can do to help them, a proposal of crucial initiatives that the Government can implement to make an immediate impact on the prosperity of the sector was delivered to the Office of Life Sciences on Wednesday 1 July 2009.

It covers four main themes:

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ONS Regional Trends report puts regions under the spotlight

Office for National Statistics logoYoung people aged 16 and 17 in the West Midlands were more likely to not be in employment, education or training (NEET) than any other UK region in 2007.

This is just one of the findings of the latest annual ONS Regional Trends report.

Children and young people are the lead article in this year’s publication. There are also articles on women in business, statistical snapshots of the UK regions, and an in-depth profiling of selected English regions.

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Observatory issues invitation to tender to support integrated policy model

West Midlands Regional Observatory logoThe Observatory has released an Invitation to Tender (PDF, 320kb) today for provision of technical and analytical support for our Integrated Policy Model (IPM).

This is an exciting opportunity for external consultants to engage with the IPM, the first fully integrated spatial model developed to support regional, local and sub-regional organisations plan and monitor policies.

The IPM  is an interactive tool which allows policy makers and analysts to explore in detail the potential impacts of specific policy interventions. Before committing millions of pounds of investment, the potential impacts in different local areas can be simulated within the realistic regional environment of the model.

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Regional perceptions indicator for the West Midlands

Broadway Tower between treesEngland’s glory or England’s shame – what’s your opinion of the West Midlands?

We all have perceptions about places and they shape what we do, where we go and how we invest.

Because of this we are now running a research project to find out what perceptions people have about the West Midlands, and how it compares with the other regions of England.

Results are due in November 2009, but for now you can find out more on the Observatory’s website.