2009 Skills Assessment for local organisations and their sub-regions

Improving connections between local and regional evidence and policy will be crucial to the success of the forthcoming Regional Skills Strategy.

This was one message from delegates at yesterday’s dissemination event for the Observatory’s Regional Skills Assessment 2009.

A mix of Local Authority officers, higher education representatives and policy officers investigated how the extensive research undertaken by the Observatory can be used by local authorities and other organisations to plan major pieces of work such as Local Economic Assessments.

As the Skills Assessment will also inform work at regional level, including the forthcoming Regional Skills Strategy and Strategy for the West Midlands, the research can help forge links between the local and regional tiers of strategy and policy making.

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Electronic marketplaces: a way to tackle worklessness?

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation have just published a think-piece on electronic markets (pdf, 1.09mb) by Wingham Rowan, project director of Slivers-of-Time.

The underlying premise is simple: there are plenty of people who would like to work, but can’t commit to regular hours because of family commitments or recurring medical conditions.

There are also lots of businesses which could benefit from hiring people for an hour or two at a time at short notice, without all of the overheads associated with traditional recruitment agencies.

Slivers-of-Time working is designed to connect the two using online electronic marketplaces—a sort of ‘eBay for jobs’—in a way that could help ease workless people back into the workforce and supply businesses with a flexible pool of vouchsafed, accredited labour.

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Environmental technologies skills in the West Midlands seminar roundup

Two workers install solar panels on a red roof

The Observatory held an event on 20th January 2010 to present findings from their environmental technologies skills review, which determined:

  • The relative importance of these industries to the regional economy and the profile of the workforce by gender, ethnicity, age and qualification attainment
  • Key developments in the sector, potential market opportunities and drivers of skills change
  • Current and potential labour and skill needs and any gaps and shortages
  • Investment in training and up-skilling by employers
  • The use of publicly funded, private sector and internally run training and any gaps or weaknesses in provision
  • Recommendations and actions to address any issues identified

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Consultation on making Ordnance Survey mapping data freely available

Person from Ordnance Survey submitting geographic data on a handheld computer

Ian Austin, Regional Minister for the West Midlands and Communities Minister, outlined proposals at the end of December 2009 on how to make Ordnance  Survey mapping data freely available, so that the data can be re-used in innovative applications and products.

Communities and Local Government launched a consultation on 23 December 2009, Policy options for geographic information from Ordnance Survey, on which Ordnance Survey datasets can be made freely available to support digital innovation and democratic accountability.

You can view the consultation PDF here or use this online form to tell the government what you think.

The deadline for consultation responses is 17 March 2010.

OS data is used heavily here in the Observatory and by partner organisations. It’d be interesting to hear what you think and the issues you’re feeding back in the consultation. Do let us know in the comments.

Observatory map featured in top 10 government data visualisations and applications

An interactive map produced by the Observatory has been featured in The Guardian’s top 10 government data visualisations and applications.

Screenshot: interactive map showing Jobseeker's Allowance claimant rates in the West Midlands

This map shows the proportion of the working age population claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in each local authority in the West Midlands. You can also compare data for each local authority with the West Midlands and UK averages.

The map is based on the latest employment and unemployment data released monthly by the Office for National Statistics. The Observatory analyses this data as part of its work in monitoring the impact of the recession on the West Midlands.

As well as local authority, we also show the data in maps for:

The 10 data visualisations and applications were highlighted by the Guardian Datastore on the same day the government publicly launched the data.gov.uk site. This new site aims to unlock innovation and encourage data-led decisions by opening up public sector data for reuse in innovative applications and websites.

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Black Country Consortium seeks researchers and Head of Intelligence

Black Country see it in colourThe Black Country Consortium are currently advertising for a Head of Intelligence and two researchers to join their team.

The closing date for applications for both posts is 29th January 2010.

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Young people in Birmingham and West Midlands go for Creative & Media Diploma

Four students gathered around a laptop

Recent data released by the Department for Children, Schools and Families shows that learner participation in the new 14–19 Diplomas in the West Midlands is focused on the Creative & Media course so far.

The 14–19 Diploma is a new qualification which takes two years to complete. Young people can do it at school or college and it combines practical experience with class learning, and is focused on a specific vocational area.

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