Office for National Statistics West Midlands newsletter July-August 2010

Office for National StatisticsThis newsletter contains information on statistical consultations together with recent and planned ONS publications that might be of interest to you.
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Oracle summer 2010 newsletter out now

Read our Oracle summer 2010 newsletter (pdf, 404kb)The summer edition of our Oracle newsletter (pdf, 404kb) is now available, rounding up our recent research.

Rosie Paskins, Chief Executive of the West Midlands Regional Observatory, introduces the newsletter with updates on how our research is being used and how we’re working hard to ensure local authorities, businesses and forthcoming Local Enterprise Partnerships can access and benefit from our research:

In what has been an interesting but rather unsettling few months for all those working in the public sector, the Observatory has continued to provide West Midlands decision makers with solid and reliable evidence on which they can base their decisions.

This summary of our work over the course of 2009-10 (pdf, 750kb) shows the many different ways in which Observatory research is being used.

Despite turbulence in local and regional government, the social and economic challenges facing the West Midlands remain. The Observatory continues to provide high quality research into the underlying causes of those challenges. In a recent survey of our users, partners told us that their satisfaction with the Observatory and its work is at a five year high, with nine out of ten users rating our research as independent and objective.

At present, we are working hard to ensure that local authorities, businesses and forthcoming Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) are able to access our research and benefit from it. LEPs will almost certainly inherit new responsibilities around economic development, worklessness, skills and low carbon. The Observatory has a wealth of expertise in each of those areas, and we are used to working across local authority boundaries. So in a world of Local Enterprise Partnerships, we can provide important insight and an objective assessment of the facts, to help decision makers take tough policy decisions with confidence.

I hope you enjoy reading about our recent research. As ever, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Rosie Paskins
Chief Executive

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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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Recently published research by the Observatory: June 2010

In our website survey back in February, respondents asked for more posts about what the Observatory teams are working on and what research reports had been published. This is the first post listing recently published reports. If you prefer to receive immediate updates when new research is published, subscribe to our RSS and email updates.
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Observatory low carbon team update: June 2010

Black and white illustration representing an environmently friendly economyOpportunities for businesses in the low carbon economy have been the main focus of the team in recent weeks. We’ve also been producing our annual raft of monitoring work looking at all aspects of sustainable development and climate change.

Low carbon economy

Back in March, we published our report into the opportunites for growth into a low carbon economy in the West Midlands.

The research suggested that, in the West Midlands, sectors with prospects for growth into the low carbon economy include automotive & transport equipment, construction and public services amongst others.

The report highlights a number of potential low carbon opportunities. The manufacture of products for low carbon buildings is one, through providing insulation products, technical tiles and ceramics, and prefabricated building elements for construction.

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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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Observatory enterprise and innovation team update: May 2010

This is the second post in a new series of weekly Observatory research updates; there will be one post from a different research team each week. We’re doing this in response to feedback we received in our recent website user survey. Please do get in touch with any feedback.

It’s rather a brief update from the Enterprise and Innovation team this month as during April and May we’ve been busy researching and compiling two interesting reports on different aspects of enterprise and employment in the West Midlands.

Aspirations of businesses in West Midlands

Our first piece of research is focused on uncovering emerging trends and issues related to aspirations of the region’s businesses and what is constraining their growth ambitions.

Our initial analysis is drawn from existing data following a scoping exercise to uncover what information sources were available on the topic. This proved particularly challenging; information regarding aspirations and barriers to growth is rather scarce. However, the report will outline a number of findings that we hope partners will find interesting.

Employment trends from Annual Business Inquiry data

Our second piece of research looks at trends in employment in the West Midlands using the latest Annual Business Inquiry data.

Initially reviewing the performance at a broad sector level, our report compares the trends of the West Midlands against the UK average and other regions.

The report also looks at the underlying drivers behind notable headline sector trends, providing in-depth analysis using the most detailed to Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes to fully examine what has been driving growth. Using predefined SIC groupings, the research looks at the recent trends in employment, the research looks at the recent trends in employment of high tech and knowledge intensive industries and Advantage West Midlands’ clusters. We also explore the breakdown of employment demographics.

We’ll publish these reports on the Observatory’s enterprise and innovation research pages in the coming weeks.