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.

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Upcoming event: multiple risk factors of worklessness

Cropped section of a chart showing different factors affecting individual's chances of being out of work

We’re hosting an event on 6th July to share the findings and implications of our recent research looking at how a person’s background and personal characteristics affect the individual’s chance of being out of work.

The report, Worklessness in the West Midlands: the impact of demographics and multiple risk factors (pdf, 545kb), looks in depth at the impact of several ‘risk factors’, in isolation and in combination with each other:

  • Being a young person (aged 16–24)
  • Being an older person (aged 55 to retirement)
  • Being from a black, Indian or Pakistani or ​Bangladeshi ethnic group
  • Having a long-​term health problem or disability
  • Being a lone parent
  • Having no qualifications

The analysis will help decision makers get a greater understanding of the complex interplay of issues behind the current high rate of worklessness across the West Midlands.

The event takes place at the West Midlands Regional Observatory offices (get directions), 8:45–11:00am, 6th July 2010.

It’s free to attend, though please register as places are limited.

  • Event agenda (pdf, 94kb)
  • Book online (requires registration)
  • Download a booking form (doc, 45kb)

New research shows targeted welfare to work provision is necessary to reduce worklessness

Welfare to work programmes aimed at getting people back into work should take a ‘whole person’ approach, rather than tackling factors such as age, ethnicity or disability in isolation, according to new research from the West Midlands Regional Observatory carried out on behalf of the West Midlands Economic Inclusion Panel.

The research findings confirm those of other studies by the Observatory, that the West Midlands has one of the highest rates of worklessness in England, with some disadvantaged groups experiencing much higher rates of worklessness than others.

The latest research provides insights into the major factors influencing a person’s chances of being in or out of work and shows that these 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.

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Observatory economic inclusion team update: May 2010

Here’s a roundup of recently published work from the Observatory’s economic inclusion team and upcoming research to look out for over the next month.

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New plan to harness £16 billion public spending for local benefit

A new plan that could help local people benefit from £16 billion of government spending in the West Midlands was launched by Regional Minister, Ian Austin, this week.

And he said government spending would be used to boost employment for people in the West Midlands and help access “local jobs for local people.”

The new West Midlands Procurement Framework for jobs and skills has been developed by the West Midlands Economic Inclusion Panel. This brings leaders from across the public, private and third sectors together to find ways to tackle the £3bn output gap ascribed to worklessness in the West Midlands.

Set up in 2008 to address the region’s worklessness challenge, the Economic Inclusion Panel  has focussed on developing a strategic approach to public procurement as a key driver in tackling worklessness. The Observatory’s economic inclusion team works closely with the Panel to provide evidence of the challenges facing the region.

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Electronic marketplaces: a way to tackle worklessness?

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation have just published a think-piece on electronic markets (pdf, 1.09mb) by Wingham Rowan, project director of Slivers-of-Time.

The underlying premise is simple: there are plenty of people who would like to work, but can’t commit to regular hours because of family commitments or recurring medical conditions.

There are also lots of businesses which could benefit from hiring people for an hour or two at a time at short notice, without all of the overheads associated with traditional recruitment agencies.

Slivers-of-Time working is designed to connect the two using online electronic marketplaces—a sort of ‘eBay for jobs’—in a way that could help ease workless people back into the workforce and supply businesses with a flexible pool of vouchsafed, accredited labour.

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How the Observatory is monitoring the recession

Up and down arrows on wood chippingsThese are difficult times for the West Midlands. The recession is having a major impact on our people and our businesses.

In response, we have been involved in a range of analysis of current conditions and trends to inform the West Midlands Taskforce and other regional partners.

At the moment, we are producing a series of regular monitoring reports. These include contributions to the monthly economic briefings for the Taskforce, quarterly bulletins on the impact of the recession on the region’s population, skills and the labour market and the cultural sector.

We’ve also started publishing a regional analysis of the latest monthly unemployment figures. Continue reading