Making the skills links for Environmental Technology

There has been a fair bit of media interest in the Environmental Technology sector over the past couple of weeks, particularly from the BBC and Radio WM. This was stimulated by our recent Review of Skills in Environmental Technologies (pdf, 476kb).

In the main, the interest has concentrated around how the sector has faired better than wider manufacturing through the recession, and the huge potential for future growth – for example in renewable energy and recycling.

This is good news for the West Midlands, as the industry has the potential to create jobs for Midlanders long in to the future.

But, to capitalise on the sector’s potential, our research (pdf, 476kb) shows that businesses need to be able to access the right people with the right skills; in some cases, very specific skills that are up to date with the latest technology.

We found that Environmental Technology companies are finding it difficult to find people with the right skills, and the report (pdf, 476kb) makes some recommendations on how to overcome the barriers.

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Call for focus on skills and innovation

Man circuit wiring at Digeprint, Warwick Science ParkThe new chairman of the Manufacturing Advisory Service West Midlands (MAS-WM), Colin Tivey, has called for a focus on skills and innovation to keep manufacturing enterprises going through the recession, and to ensure companies prosper when economic conditions improve again.

In an article published by the Birmingham Post, Mr Tivey outlined how MAS-WM is going to be providing support for the manufacturing industry in the West Midlands, with plans for immediate assistance to firms currently struggling as a result of the global downturn, and also looking to retain and develop skills and innovation for the future.
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Survey of West Midlands’ businesses indicates deepening economic downturn

Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and IndustryThe latest survey results from the region’s Chambers of Commerce point to a further worsening of the business environment.

The Quarterly Economic Survey results for the 3 months to December 2008 highlight the difficult trading conditions faced by businesses in the West Midlands.

The situation has deteriorated for both manufacturers and service providers. Key findings for the West Midlands are:
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West Midlands economy suffers further falls

The latest West Midlands Chamber of Commerce Quarterly Survey released today makes grim reading as it reports further declines in economic output and a worsening of prospects for the next quarter.

Manufacturing firms in the West Midlands reported significant falls in domestic orders and further worsening of exports. This is impacting on investment and confidence, with fewer firms reporting plans for capital investment as expectations of profitability and turnover decline.

In services the picture is mixed, with domestic orders falling but strong growth in exports. Employment growth, while positive, has slowed on the previous quarter and cashflow has deteriorated. In the light of the continuing uncertainty the survey reports business confidence levels falling.

Economic activity in the West Midlands continues to slow

Latest economic output data suggest that the regional economy continues to slow down.

The Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) is based on surveys undertaken by Markit Economics on behalf of the Royal Bank of Scotland. It is an important indicator of current market conditions.

The index is derived such that a level of 50 signals no change since the previous month, above 50 signals an increase (or improvement) and below 50 a decrease (or contraction). The greater the divergence from 50, the greater the rate of change signalled.

The latest data from the PMI West Midlands report (pdf, 232kb) signalled the fastest decline in business activity in the region in almost seven years in June, as new business fell for the eighth month running. Continue reading