Continuing professional development company uses Regional Skills Assessments to inform their research

Recently, I interviewed Kim White, a member of our Economy & Labour Force topic group, about his use of the Regional Skills Assessment to direct the work of his organisation.

In October 2008, Kim, Chief Executive of Intelligent Career Development Limited (also known as i-CD) and was given the task by the Vice Chancellor of Wolverhampton University to set up a company specialising in Continuing Professional and Personal Development (CPPD).

i-CD is the result of a project conducted to identify the most effective way for the University to provide support to businesses in the area of CPPD. i-CD specifically works to develop courses and schedules which students and employers, in the workplace, find useful and relevant.

Kim used a variety of sources to help inform his research into the needs of employers and students, and to identify potential gaps within the CPPD marketplace.

The Regional Skills Assessment 2007 (pdf, 714kb), published by the West Midlands Regional Observatory, was one such source.

Kim said that the Regional Skills Assessment 2007 helped him to identify:

  • The need to train and upskill more employees to NVQ level 4 and above
  • The barriers to engagement in employment and learning (such as encouraging more students and graduates to remain in the West Midlands after graduation)

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Higher level skills can help boost the region’s economic recovery

It’s no secret that the West Midlands has been harder hit by the recession than any other UK region. Indeed economic growth has been slower than that of many other regions for a number of years. This reflects long standing structural problems which mean we have relatively few high growth businesses. As a result, economic recovery in the West Midlands is expected to be difficult and protracted. Although headline regional Gross Value Added (GVA) is expected to begin to rise this year, an upturn in employment is not expected until 2012 – and projections show that it could be well into the next decade before the region reaches the peak levels of employment seen in 2008.

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Regional Skills Assessment published

The Regional Skills Assessment for 2009 is now available. This extensive research gives an overview of the changing needs of the West Midlands’ labour market, along with a detailed exploration of key issues by sector, by sub-region and for key groups.

This year’s main report presents a few distinctive sections compared to previous years. It mainly focuses on recent trends, looking also at the impact of recession and prospects for recovery.

The main report is complemented by two reports identifying the main skills needs and issues in each of the region’s key sectors and clusters.

The Assessment also includes a series of six detailed sub-​regional skills profiles assessing recent trends and future prospects for both the demand for and supply of skills. The profiles highlight key issues to support, in particular, development of Local Economic Assessments by local authorities, the commissioning of 16-​19 learning provision and the work of sub-​regional Employment and Skills Boards. The sub-regional assessments cover:

  • Birmingham and Solihull
  • Black Country
  • Coventry and Warwickshire
  • Herefordshire and Worcestershire
  • Shropshire
  • Staffordshire

In addition, there’s an entire chapter dedicated to future prospects in the region’s labour market with forecasts covering both short-​medium term (2009 to 2014) and long term (to 2024), using the Observatory’s economic forecasting model.

View the Regional Skills Assessment 2009 pages on wmro.org

Key contact: Andy Phillips, Head of Skills Research

2009 Skills Assessment for local organisations and their sub-regions

Improving connections between local and regional evidence and policy will be crucial to the success of the forthcoming Regional Skills Strategy.

This was one message from delegates at yesterday’s dissemination event for the Observatory’s Regional Skills Assessment 2009.

A mix of Local Authority officers, higher education representatives and policy officers investigated how the extensive research undertaken by the Observatory can be used by local authorities and other organisations to plan major pieces of work such as Local Economic Assessments.

As the Skills Assessment will also inform work at regional level, including the forthcoming Regional Skills Strategy and Strategy for the West Midlands, the research can help forge links between the local and regional tiers of strategy and policy making.

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Seminars on the 2009 Regional Skills Assessment and the new Regional Skills Strategy

Person wiring cables at Stourbridge CollegeThe Government has published Skills for Growth, a new National Skills Strategy.

This highlights the fact that skilled people are one of the building blocks of successful businesses. Skilled workers can carry out more complex tasks, work more effectively and produce higher value products and services.

They are also better at adapting to changing working environments, enabling firms to respond better to changing global competition and technology. This tends to be particularly effective when businesses use these skills in combination with investment in innovation and technology.

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Roundup of workshop on skills for the emerging economy

Skills graphic from chapter 5 of Fit for the Future book‘Skills for the emerging economy’ was a lively and well-attended workshop held at the Observatory’s Annual Conference on 20th October 2009.

Steve Sawbridge, from the Association of Colleges, chaired the workshop, which featured presentations from Mike Beasley, Pat Jackson and Andy Phillips.

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Investment in skills critical to survive the downturn

Continued investment in training and skills is key for business survival in the current economic downturn, according to new research released by the West Midlands Regional Observatory .

The Regional Skills Assessment for 2008 reports that in the five year period from 2003 to 2007, increased investment in skills and training significantly reduced skills shortages in the region. This meant that employers could more easily access the skills they needed to develop and grow.BMW assembly line

Historically, the West Midlands has lagged behind the rest of England in terms of skills performance, but statistics show that from 2003 to 2007 the performance gap reduced from six percentage points to less than one per-cent.

Much of this improvement was due to a strong upturn in the number of employers investing in staff training, through apprenticeship programmes and initiatives such as the Learning & Skills Council’s Train to Gain service.
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