2009 Skills Assessment and regional skills policy

The productivity gap in the West Midlands regional economy appears to be widening, despite a narrowing skills gap.

This was one of the key issues arising at a dissemination event for the Observatory’s Regional Skills Assessment held last Friday at the Observatory.

A range of attendees, including higher education representatives and policy officers from organisations including Advantage West Midlands, Sector Skills Councils, the City Region Partnership and Jobcentre Plus, discussed the implications of the Regional Skills Assessment on policy in the West Midlands.

What the Assessment means for regional and sub-regional organisations

Andy Phillips, Head of Skills Research at the West Midlands Regional Observatory, summarised the Regional Skills Assessment and what it means for regional and sub-regional organisations:

Watch Andy’s presentation | Get PowerPoint slides (ppt, 649kb)

Some comments and questions arising from the presentation included:

  • It’s interesting that the region’s performance is still poor on higher level skills
  • If the skills gap is closing, why isn’t productivity? Does this mean that skills policy needs to be more integrated with policies to improve factors such as enterprise and innovation?

Using the Skills Assessment to inform regional policy

Geoff Fletcher from Advantage West Midlands looked at how the Regional Skills Assessment can be used to inform policy at a regional and sub-regional level:

Watch Geoff’s presentation | Get PowerPoint slides (ppt, 226kb)

Some of the questions raised during Geoff’s presentation included:

  • How do we maximise the impact of public spending on skills – which is set to reduce in the coming years?
  • Does investment in training need to be focused on key growth sectors of the future?

Questions and discussion

The event ended with a session for questions and discussion. Some of the actions coming out of the discussion included:

  • A need to update the Observatory’s skills performance index and develop new measures
  • Find out what it is about the West Midlands that makes graduates leave
  • Measure the impact of  public sector training more effectively
  • Examine whether there are specific parts of the New Industry, New Jobs that the West Midlands can take particular advantage of

Listen to the discussion:

A related event highlighting areas of the Regional Skills Assessment relevant to regional and sub-regional policy makers and researchers was held on 28th January 2010.

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