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.

Continue reading

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.

West Midlands particularly vulnerable to public sector job cuts

Public sector employment has grown significantly in recent years across the UK and has been the key driver of the economy’s expansion. But proposals announced by the government to make £83bn worth of cuts in public sector spending are forecast to lead to the loss of up to 600,000 public sector jobs across the UK over the next 6 years, according to a study1 by Oxford Economics.

The West Midlands economy is particularly vulnerable to the impact of the cuts. Between 1998 and 2008 (latest available figures), the West Midlands saw the most significant increase in dependence on public sector employment in the country2.

The share of jobs accounted for by the public sector increased from 22% in 1998 to 27% in 2008, a rise of 5 percentage points, bringing total public sector employment to some 637,000.

We forecast that between 2010 and 2016 there will be a net loss of nearly 50,000 jobs across the West Midlands and, based on the ratio of the number of private sector jobs dependent on public sector spending and the associated supply chain nationally, a further 310,000 jobs are at risk at private sector firms directly or indirectly reliant on public sector spending3.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Job opportunity: SCPnet

The Environment Agency are looking to second a suitable individual for a period of 3-6 months to help strengthen the SCPnet (Sustainable consumption and production network) and secure its long term future.

Continue reading

2009 Skills Assessment and regional skills policy

The productivity gap in the West Midlands regional economy appears to be widening, despite a narrowing skills gap.

This was one of the key issues arising at a dissemination event for the Observatory’s Regional Skills Assessment held last Friday at the Observatory.

A range of attendees, including higher education representatives and policy officers from organisations including Advantage West Midlands, Sector Skills Councils, the City Region Partnership and Jobcentre Plus, discussed the implications of the Regional Skills Assessment on policy in the West Midlands.

Continue reading

Black Country Consortium seeks researchers and Head of Intelligence

Black Country see it in colourThe Black Country Consortium are currently advertising for a Head of Intelligence and two researchers to join their team.

The closing date for applications for both posts is 29th January 2010.

Continue reading

West Midlands innovation fund delivers eleven-fold return on investment and brings jobs to region

Central Technology Belt - Birmingham - Worcestershire

An independent evaluation of the Technology Transfer Fund (TTF2) (pdf, 431kb) has underlined the value that the SME support fund has played in regional economic growth.

The fund was launched by Advantage West Midlands in 2005 to assist development of small and medium sized science and technology businesses within the Central Technology Belt, the high technology corridor that follows the A38 from Birmingham, through Worcester, to Malvern. TTF2 offered grants of up to £25,000 to more than 150 local companies.

The report (pdf, 431kb) produced by ekosgen on behalf of Advantage West Midlands found that the TTF2 realised more than £25 million of additional net turnover for the businesses it supported, and also created an additional 47 jobs during the two year project lifespan.

Continue reading

Latest labour market data shows slight improvements for the West Midlands

Office for National StatisticsThe latest labour market statistics released today by the Office for National Statistics are the most positive for many months.

In the West Midlands, the employment rate has increased slightly and unemployment and Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants have both fallen slightly.

The employment rate in the West Midlands is now 70.3% (August-October 2009) , up from 70% in the previous quarter.

There are 22,000 more people in employment than in the three months to July 2009.

Continue reading

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).

Continue reading

West Midlands employment rate stabilises

Office for National StatisticsLatest labour market data published today by the Office for National Statistics shows that the West Midlands’ employment rate has stabilised at 70.0%.

The region’s level of unemployment has fallen by 14,000. However, this seems to be due to people becoming economically inactive rather than entering employment. Previous quarters saw many people in the region moving from economic inactivity to unemployment, mainly due to many of those who were looking after the family or home beginning to look for work, so this could represent a reversal of that trend.

The region’s rate of unemployment has fallen by 0.4% to 10.0%, but is still substantially higher than the England unemployment rate of 7.9%.

The claimant count of those claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance has also stabilised at 186,100, with a slight increase of 800. Continue reading

Unemployment rates in Worcestershire: August 2009

Two people at entrance to Malvern Hills science parkWorcestershire County Council’s research and intelligence unit publish a monthly round-up of employment fact and figures.

These statistics are broken down by wards and districts, and also show the picture for the whole of Worcestershire in comparison to the West Midlands.

Highlights from the August 2009 summary (PDF, 713kb) include:
Continue reading

Secondment opportunity for research analyst at the Observatory

West Midlands Regional Observatory logoThe Observatory is currently looking for an experienced research analyst to provide maternity cover for one of our team.

The post is available as a part-time secondment, working with us for 2-3 days per week until next summer.

The Observatory will be able to cover salary and related costs for the postholder for the days they are working for us.

Here’s the job description (DOC, 52kb).

Continue reading

Mental ill-health is a growing cause of unemployment in the West Midlands

Mental health and employment report coverA new report, Mental Health and Employment in the West Midlands (PDF, 483kb) by the West Midlands Regional Observatory highlights the growing problem of mental ill-health in the region.

Following the Economic Inclusion Baseline Report for the West Midlands (PDF, 2.16mb) published in April 2009, which found mental ill-health to be one of the biggest causes of worklessness in the region, our new report focuses on the issue of mental health and employment.

The report provides information and statistics on the links between mental health problems and employment issues within the West Midlands, as well as reviewing recent research and policy options aimed at overcoming employment barriers.

Continue reading

Survey on destinations of graduates from higher education

Graduates at Birmingham UniversityThe Destinations of leavers from higher education longitudinal survey (PDF, 2.02mb) is a new report published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

The survey aims to examine what graduates are doing three years after graduation. Questionnaires were completed by graduates who left university in 2004/05 on a range of subjects including their activities during November 2008.

Continue reading