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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Sharing intelligence from Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire

Yesterday, I attended the Coventry, Solihull and Wawickshire Researchers’ Forum to demonstrate the Observatory’s Resource Catalogue and show how the data and intelligence in the catalogue might support the work that they’re engaged in, and also to encourage further contributions to the catalogue from members of the forum to help share their data and intelligence across the region and sub-region.

The Resource Catalogue is available through the Observatory’s website and collects research, data and policy documents from across the West Midlands to create a fully searchable database for policy makers, decision makers, researchers and anyone else to access. There are contributions from organisations across the public, private and third sectors and what is particularly useful is that almost all are free and available immediately via a web-link.

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Regional Skills Assessment 2008: key issues for employers

We produce the Regional Skills Assessment each year, providing commentary on the changing labour market in the West Midlands to inform the work of a wide range of organisations. This post highlights key issues for employers arising from our skills assessment work this year.

Over the last five years there has been a significant shift in the balance of employment from manufacturing to services:

  • There has been significant new job creation in private sector services such as business & professional services, retail, hotels & catering and in public sector services such as health & social care, education and public administration. Continue reading

NESTA Regional Innovation Index: call for ideas

The West Midlands Regional Observatory has begun a 3-year programme of research to support the work of the regional Innovation Technology Council.

One of our first contributions is to the call for ideas as part of the new Regional Innovation Index projects. Full details of the NESTA call for ideas are on www.innovationindex.org.uk or download the full paper (PDF, 134KB).

We would like to hear suggestions, will coordinate the responses and submit a synthesis of responses.

If you’d like to respond to all or some of the questions please either post your comments or alternatively email me at brian.macaulay@wmro.org.

The deadline for formal contributions is 5pm, Friday 12th September 2008. We’ll be collating regional responses in the days before, so contributions will need to be submitted to us by the end of Wednesday 10th September 2008.

Building a Register of Consultants

We’re developing a new directory for public agencies and the voluntary sector to use when searching for organisations to invite to tender for research projects.

Why are we doing this?

The Register of Consultants aims to solve two issues originally identified by the Economy & Labour Force Group:

  1. The same usual suspects are asked to carry out research within the West Midlands region.
  2. Public sector agencies and voluntary organisations would like to speak to previous clients who have used a research consultancy to learn if the consultancy is suitable to invite to tender.

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