Local Enterprise Partnerships need to act to reinvigorate the private sector

Distilling machine CERAM Stoke-on-Tent

Weaknesses in the structure of the West Midlands economy mean that it was hit particularly hard by the recent recession and is likely to see further job losses over the next five years.

Our latest briefing paper (pdf, 408kb), produced as part of our West Midlands Skills Assessment 2010, reveals that the West Midlands has a weaker private sector than other parts of the country. The West Midlands has poorer representation of higher value added activities and high growth firms with the potential to create new, skilled jobs.

As a result the West Midlands has seen its share of jobs in the public sector rise more rapidly than anywhere else in the country. It is particularly vulnerable to job losses from the spending cuts announced by the government.

We forecast that West Midlands Gross Value Added (GVA) will grow by only 8% (£8.8 billion) between 2010 and 2015 and there will be a net fall in employment of more than 38,000 people.

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State of the West Midlands 2010 report published

State of the West Midlands 2010

The State of the West Midlands 2010 report is now available, accessible through this interactive website or as a pdf download (1.74 Mb).

The report sets out the evidence about some of the key challenges facing the West Midlands and its localities. Since the general election earlier in the year, much has changed in the way that the West Midlands is governed, but the big issues that it faces remain. Issues such as the growing economic output gap, high levels of worklessness, skills levels, the ageing population, the consequences of climate change and the poor image of the West Midlands.

This year, for the first time, we have published the report in an interactive web version (as well as a pdf -1.74Mb). This will allow you to provide comments on the report, as well as providing easy access to the issues that are of most interest to you.

New Fit for the Future articles published: what’s your vision of a low carbon future?

Fit for the Future: what's your vision of a low carbon future? Join in the debate.

We’ve launched a new website as part of our Fit for the Future project. Earlier this year we asked:

In your view, what would a successful low carbon economy look like and how should the West Midlands transform its economy to meet that vision?

The new website presents five articles given in response, written by contributors working in manufacturing, local government, education, public and voluntary sectors.

We want the articles to stimulate a debate so, this year, we decided to present the articles in an online commentable form. Please do visit the website, have a read and add your comments to the articles.

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State of the Region – image and identity of the West Midlands

West Bromwich at nightLast week, we started a new State of the Region dialogue on the image and identity of the West Midlands.

The future of the region will be determined by the decisions that individuals make – decisions such as whether to locate in the region, to invest in business or property, to study at one of our universities or to visit the region for business or leisure.

All of these decisions will be influenced by people’s view of the region’s image and identity.

A range of information is already collected, locally, regionally and nationally, about how people view the region and how it compares with other places.

There is also more general research, looking at what drives and changes image and identity. The workshop brought together different sources of evidence to determine the story they tell us about the West Midlands, summarised in the three presentations available below.

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What makes a sustainable community?

Ludlow ButtercrossCan we use a mix of  indicators to show which of our communities are sustainable?

That’s the question the Observatory is aiming to answer as we continue our State of the Region dialogue on sustainable communities.

We published What makes a community sustainable? (pdf, 457kb) in October 2009. This report built on a workshop held in April 2009.

In the report we took the starting point that a successful West Midlands must be made up of communities where people want to live and work, now and in the future. The work then tried to understand the factors which make communities sustainable in this way.

The next stage of the work is to look at how we can identify which of our current communities are sustainable and which need action to help them to change.

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Skills needed to kick start the West Midlands economic recovery

While there are tentative signs of an upturn in the labour market, with more firms looking to recruit new staff and invest in training, the economic recovery is expected to be weak and protracted.

Headline regional GVA is not expected to begin to rise until 2010 and an upturn in employment is not expected until 2012:

Chart showing annual percentage change in employment and GVA forecast for the West Midlands 2007-2016

Chart: Base forecast: West Midlands trends in employment and value added. Source: Observatory Integrated Policy Model. View full size chart (png, 18kb).

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Sustainable Cities Index: analysis for the West Midlands

Cover of Sustainable Cities Index 2009

Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton are the three cities from the West Midlands included in the Sustainable Cities Index (pdf, 4.3mb) published recently by Forum for the Future.

This is the third year that the index has been published, which tracks sustainability progress achieved in Britain’s 20 largest cities. The index is designed to give a snapshot of sustainability in each city, aiming to encourage healthy competition, stimulating discussion and suggesting new ways of thinking about cities.

This post provides a short analysis of findings for the West Midlands cities and also highlights the similarities that this work has with our State of the Region dialogue on sustainable communities.

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