Endorsement of our Economic Inclusion research

Here’s a short video featuring Trudi Elliott, Chair of the West Midlands Economic Inclusion Panel, endorsing our economic inclusion research:

Watch on viddler

The multiple risk factors of worklessness

By isolating the ‘risk factors’ and certain combinations of ‘risk factors’ associated with a person’s chance of being out of work, new analysis from the West Midlands Observatory can help decision makers get to grips with the complex interplay of issues behind the current high rate of worklessness across the West Midlands.

The research is already informing the Department for Work and Pensions in its review of welfare policy, as it provides insights into the major factors influencing a person’s chances of being in or out of work. It shows that these chances can vary greatly according to the individual’s background and personal characteristics. The research demonstrates how combinations of factors such as having no formal qualifications or a long-term health problem or disability, or being a lone parent, affect a person’s chance of being out of work.

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Research published on prospects for the West Midlands economy post recession

Report cover: The West Midlands economy post recessionAt the end of June, the Observatory published The West Midlands Economy Post Recession: Key Issues and Challenges (pdf, 844kb), a major piece of research exploring the changing needs of the region’s economy and labour market as it emerges from recession.

The research is informing the decisions of employers, individuals, providers and the skills system as they look to focus their investment in key areas to maximise impact.

Firstly, the research considers the region’s recent poor economic performance and the key factors that have contributed to this.

We detail the weaknesses within the region’s economic structure and, in particular, the dependence on public sector and lower value added private sector activities, in terms of GVA and jobs, and the limited representation of high value added, knowledge-based sectors.

We also highlight the low rates of productivity in many of the sectors that dominate the regional economy and assess the skill gaps and shortages businesses in the West Midlands face and the impact on productivity and performance.

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Recession impacted unemployment numbers but long-term issues around worklessness remain

Cover of Economic inclusion annual report 2010New research from the Observatory shows the recession has led to nearly 100,000 more unemployed people in the West Midlands but long-term issues around worklessness remain.

The economic inclusion annual report 2010 (pdf, 929kb) identifies how worklessness issues in the West Midlands have changed as a result of the recession, and to what extent long-term issues remain.

In this report we particularly look at the impact of the recession on employment and worklessness in the West Midlands, and which groups of people have been most affected.

The report updates the economic inclusion baseline report (pdf, 2.3mb) published by the Observatory in March 2009, in which we examined long-term issues around worklessness in the West Midlands.

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Upcoming event: multiple risk factors of worklessness

Cropped section of a chart showing different factors affecting individual's chances of being out of work

We’re hosting an event on 6th July to share the findings and implications of our recent research looking at how a person’s background and personal characteristics affect the individual’s chance of being out of work.

The report, Worklessness in the West Midlands: the impact of demographics and multiple risk factors (pdf, 545kb), looks in depth at the impact of several ‘risk factors’, in isolation and in combination with each other:

  • Being a young person (aged 16–24)
  • Being an older person (aged 55 to retirement)
  • Being from a black, Indian or Pakistani or ​Bangladeshi ethnic group
  • Having a long-​term health problem or disability
  • Being a lone parent
  • Having no qualifications

The analysis will help decision makers get a greater understanding of the complex interplay of issues behind the current high rate of worklessness across the West Midlands.

The event takes place at the West Midlands Regional Observatory offices (get directions), 8:45–11:00am, 6th July 2010.

It’s free to attend, though please register as places are limited.

  • Event agenda (pdf, 94kb)
  • Book online (requires registration)
  • Download a booking form (doc, 45kb)

New research shows targeted welfare to work provision is necessary to reduce worklessness

Welfare to work programmes aimed at getting people back into work should take a ‘whole person’ approach, rather than tackling factors such as age, ethnicity or disability in isolation, according to new research from the West Midlands Regional Observatory carried out on behalf of the West Midlands Economic Inclusion Panel.

The research findings confirm those of other studies by the Observatory, that the West Midlands has one of the highest rates of worklessness in England, with some disadvantaged groups experiencing much higher rates of worklessness than others.

The latest research provides insights into the major factors influencing a person’s chances of being in or out of work and shows that these can vary greatly according to the individual’s background and personal characteristics.  The research demonstrates how combinations of factors such as having no formal qualifications or a long-term health problem or disability, or being a lone parent, affect a person’s chance of being out of work.

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Birmingham wins national award for innovative health improvement programme

Birmingham’s innovative Be Active programme won a national award for health improvement this week.

The collaborative programme run by Birmingham City Council and the local Primary Care Trusts scooped the 2010 Local Government Association’s LGcomms Reputation Campaign Award for improving health.

The Be Active scheme is an extension of ‘Gym For Free’, a pilot project introduced by Heart of Birmingham Teaching NHS Trust and Birmingham City Council in 2008, which offered residents in the Ladywood area of Birmingham access to free gym sessions at council leisure centres. This recently won the national overall Best Public Services award at the Guardian Public Services Awards 2009. Commenting at the Guardian awards ceremony, BBC presenter Jeremy Vine said:

‘This is a fantastic example of a local authority and the NHS thinking imaginatively and working in partnership to make a real difference to people’s lives. The impact has been simply stunning.’

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Observatory economic inclusion team update: May 2010

Here’s a roundup of recently published work from the Observatory’s economic inclusion team and upcoming research to look out for over the next month.

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How is the Rural Regeneration Zone doing?

This post shares key findings from our annual monitoring report on the Rural Regeneration Zone (RRZ) carried out over 2009 and 2010.  The final report will be published shortly.

Impact of project work

Since the RRZ was set up, the area has improved in many ways.  So far 1,400 new jobs have been created and 800 existing jobs have been safeguarded.  More jobs are expected to be created (1,500) and safeguarded (200) by 2015.

RRZ investment in multi-use facilities has also improved access to services.  The main improvements have been around:

  • Childcare provision – 845 more places each week
  • Volunteering opportunities – 165 more places
  • Library services – 37,700 more library projects
  • Development of new services – 98 new or enhanced services in towns and villages

Projects such as Connections to Opportunities, Rethink and Care Farming are delivering further improvements in the RRZ.  More details are included in the report.

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Economy and Labour Force newsletter: April 2010 issue

Economy and labour force newsletter

We sent out a new issue of our Economy and Labour Force newsletter today.

The newsletter summarises recent articles, new research and commentary related to the economy, skills, employment and labour market in the West Midlands.

You can view the newsletter in your browser or in pdf.

Related links

Consultation on English Indices of Deprivation

Map of West Midlands illustrating performance against Indices of Deprivation 2007 at Lower Super Output AreaCommunities and Local Government launched a consultation on the Indices of Deprivation this week.

The consultation is seeking input on three key areas:

  • Need for an updated set of indices, the form they should take and comments on a longer term aim of whether specific indicators or domains should be comparable across the UK
  • Comments on the methodology used for the Indices of Deprivation 2007
  • Current availability of data sources if the Indices of Deprivation 2007 methodology is retained for an immediate update

Responses to the Indices of Deprivation 2007 suggested that a full scale review of the indices would be best held after the 2011 Census.

As such the consultation asks whether an update should be produced in 2010 based, as closely as possible, on the 2007 methodology with a subsequent detailed review to follow the next Census. The alternative is to postpone the update until after a full review is carried out.

The indices are used widely within public and third sectors to analyse patterns of deprivation, identify areas that would benefit from special initiatives or programmes and as a tool to determine eligibility for specific funding streams. As such, it’s a hugely important consultation and we would advise any interested parties to feed their views in through the CLG process.

Consultation papers are on the CLG website and responses need to be submitted by 10th May 2010.

New Deal for Communities has brought significant improvements to deprived neighbourhoods in West Midlands

A new report  published by Communities and Local Government, A New Deal for Communities Experience: A final assessment (pdf, 779kb), highlights how government investment has had a positive impact on the six New Deal for Communities (NDC) areas in the West Midlands.

The £2 billion flagship regeneration programme between 2001 and 2008 helped:

  • Reduce the proportion of working age residents in Walsall NDC area with no qualifications by 17 percentage points
  • Raised the satisfaction with housing to 91% in 2008
  • Reduced the proportion of residents in the Aston NDC area feeling unsafe in the dark from 20% to 17% in 2008
  • 81% of residents in Kings Norton NDC area feel they had good access to a doctor in 2008
  • 69% of residents in the Sandwell NDC area felt the NDC had improved their area

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New research on employment gap between white and BME communities in the West Midlands

Cover of briefing paper on employment and BME groups in the West MidlandsThere is a large gap between the employment rates of the white population and the black and minority ethnic (BME) population and this gap is bigger in the West Midlands than nationally.

74% of working age white people are in employment in the West Midlands (compared to 76% nationally), while 54% of working age BME people are in employment (compared to 60% nationally).

A new briefing paper (pdf, 761kb) from the Observatory’s economic inclusion research team explores the nature of this employment gap and other issues around minority ethnic groups and the labour market.

Download the briefing on employment and black and minority ethnic groups in the West Midlands (pdf , 761kb)

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Higher level skills can help boost the region’s economic recovery

It’s no secret that the West Midlands has been harder hit by the recession than any other UK region. Indeed economic growth has been slower than that of many other regions for a number of years. This reflects long standing structural problems which mean we have relatively few high growth businesses. As a result, economic recovery in the West Midlands is expected to be difficult and protracted. Although headline regional Gross Value Added (GVA) is expected to begin to rise this year, an upturn in employment is not expected until 2012 – and projections show that it could be well into the next decade before the region reaches the peak levels of employment seen in 2008.

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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