West Midlands skills performance falters

The Observatory has published this year’s review of West Midlands skills performance .

Our summary skills index based on a range of measures (such as GVA per employee, investment in training, and qualification attainment amongst young people and adults) reveals the West Midlands skills performance has begun to widen again, from 1.1 points in 2007 to 2.3 points in 2009. As a result the West Midlands has dropped from 5th to 6th place in the league table of regions.

Skills performance index for West Midlands and England between 2005 and 2009

Productivity and earnings

Labour productivity within businesses, as measured by GVA per employee, has also lagged behind. A figure of just over £40,000 in 2008 was 86% of the England average of nearly £47,000, down from 87% in 2004.

At the same time the West Midlands workforce is characterised by lower levels of earnings than in many other parts of the country. Average weekly earnings of £456 in 2009 were more than 5% below the England average of £482.


Qualification attainment also lags behind other regions. For example, only 49% of 15 year olds attained five or more GCSEs at A*-C including English and Maths in 2008-09, two percentage points below the England average.

Among 19 year olds, 75% were qualified to level 2 or above in 2008 and 47% were qualified to level 3 or above.

Only 28% of adults in the West Midlands were qualified to degree level or above in 2009 – five percentage points below the England average.

Investment in training

Encouragingly, the proportion of private sector businesses investing in training has continued to rise strongly. An increase of two percentage points from 64% to 66% in 2009 was the fourth highest in the country.

However, there’s concern this investment is not sufficiently targeted at the higher level skills needed to strengthen the West Midlands’ knowledge economy.

Our report, Review of West Midlands skills performance – key headlines was published on 6 September 2010 and is available on our website:

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