Local enterprise partnership proposals announced

56 proposals for local enterprise partnerships across the country have been submitted, the government has confirmed, following the closing day for submissions.

There are seven proposals from the West Midlands:

Three distinct responses in respect to cross boundary working arrangements have also been received from Peak District, South East England and West Leicestershire and Northern Warwickshire.

Here’s the full list of proposals.

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Speed dating: bringing the Regional Data & Intelligence Network together

Attendees at all-group networking eventLast Friday, for the first time in its history, we brought together all the groups associated with the Regional Data and Intelligence Network. Members of the Economy & Labour Force, Population & Society, Environment and Geographical Information groups met, with the aim of drawing the network closer together and identifying common areas of work.

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Interactive maps – beyond election results

Media coverage of yesterday’s general elections has included many interactive online maps. Voters have been able to explore the election votes in different ways, seeing who won what where, and how close the contests were.

Here at the Observatory, we use InstantAtlas software to produce this kind of map. We’ve produced a map of yesterday’s election results as an example, but in fact we have many other maps available covering a wide range of topics. For example, Jobseeker’s Allowance claims by ward or the results of the place survey, which asked residents how they felt about their local government.

Looking at these kinds of data geographically can often be illuminating; maps can often reveal patterns that the raw data alone wouldn’t reveal. At the Observatory, the spatial dimension is something we’re always considering – maps aren’t just for election time!

Open data in Warwickshire

Warwickshire County CouncilGuest blog post by Jim Morton, Applications Architect at Warwickshire County Council

Last week we launched the Warwickshire Open Data site at http://opendata.warwickshire.gov.uk, joining other authorities such as London, Lincoln, Lichfield and Kent who have already started opening up their data to the public.

We hope that it will provide a greater level of transparency about the work of the council, as well as stimulating the development of websites and applications that can make use of our data, to provide new benefits to our citizens and visitors to the area.

It is going to take a while to build the site up as the focal point for all of our public facing information but we have taken some positive steps to build the foundations of how we should work with data from now on.

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New report sheds more light on West Midlands geography

In the public sector, many of our policies, strategies and services follow administrative boundaries such as regions, local authorities, police force areas, primary care trusts or even wards.

But out there in the real world, people don’t live their lives as neatly as that. Many people live in one place and work, learn or shop in others. Businesses too have customers and suppliers from many different places.

Whilst every person, and every business is different, understanding the patterns in these kinds of links between places is important.

For example, when analysing the local labour market it is no good just looking at the people who live locally if many local workers come from elsewhere.

Understanding “functional geographies” has always been important but the issue’s profile has been raised in recent times as government has sought to devolve more responsibility for economic development to sub-regional and local areas.

Over the next year all upper tier and unitary local authorities will need to produce Local Economic Assessments. Government guidance says that these will need to “identify the economic linkages within the area assessed and between it and the wider economy.”

In preparation for this, the Observatory has just published a report looking at some of the key sub-regional links between places in the West Midlands.

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Regional Skills Assessment published

The Regional Skills Assessment for 2009 is now available. This extensive research gives an overview of the changing needs of the West Midlands’ labour market, along with a detailed exploration of key issues by sector, by sub-region and for key groups.

This year’s main report presents a few distinctive sections compared to previous years. It mainly focuses on recent trends, looking also at the impact of recession and prospects for recovery.

The main report is complemented by two reports identifying the main skills needs and issues in each of the region’s key sectors and clusters.

The Assessment also includes a series of six detailed sub-​regional skills profiles assessing recent trends and future prospects for both the demand for and supply of skills. The profiles highlight key issues to support, in particular, development of Local Economic Assessments by local authorities, the commissioning of 16-​19 learning provision and the work of sub-​regional Employment and Skills Boards. The sub-regional assessments cover:

  • Birmingham and Solihull
  • Black Country
  • Coventry and Warwickshire
  • Herefordshire and Worcestershire
  • Shropshire
  • Staffordshire

In addition, there’s an entire chapter dedicated to future prospects in the region’s labour market with forecasts covering both short-​medium term (2009 to 2014) and long term (to 2024), using the Observatory’s economic forecasting model.

View the Regional Skills Assessment 2009 pages on wmro.org

Key contact: Andy Phillips, Head of Skills Research

2011 Census Output Geography Consultation

Office for National StatisticsThe Office for National Statistics (ONS) are holding a consultation on the 2011 Census Output Geography policy.

Dr Ray Perrins from the South West Observatory has volunteered to respond on behalf of the Association of Regional Observatories.

There are three main topics:

  1. A new geography for improved reporting of business statistics and statistics relating to the workplace
  2. An upper layer of Super Output Areas (USOAs)
  3. A request for exceptional instances of current Output Areas and Super Output Areas, as designed for 2001, that do not fit present criteria for statistical zones

However, the consultation also provides an opportunity for you to comment on any aspect of the current 2011 Census Output Geography policy.

If you’re involved in the Regional Observatories and would like anything to be included in any response from the Association of Regional Observatories, please contact Dr Ray Perrins at the South West Observatory. Please get responses to Ray by Monday, 22nd March 2010.

However, the consultation is open to everyone, including members of the public. ONS suggest on their site that:

Government departments, unitary, county and district councils, metropolitan boroughs and other large census user organisations should discuss their requirements internally before making a joint submission.

How to make a submission and contact details are available on the ONS consultation page.