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Boom time as Greater Birmingham on course to hit jobs target three years early

Boom time as Greater Birmingham on course to hit jobs target three years early

🕔13.Oct 2016

Greater Birmingham is within touching distance of hitting a challenging job creation target three years early with the region beginning to see the benefits of sustained economic recovery.

Record levels of foreign inward investment, fuelled in part by the success of Birmingham’s Enterprise Zone, mean that the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLP) has now created 104,100 of the 119,000 private sector jobs it promised to deliver by 2020.

The 119,000 target could be met or even overtaken next year, if the UK economy is not harmed by Brexit negotiations.

Latest figures have revealed that between 2014 and 2015 an additional 18,600 private sector jobs were created in the LEP region, a £40 billion economic area which covers a population of around two million from North Worcestershire to East Staffordshire.

The largest increase in private sector jobs last year came in Solihull, which saw a seven per cent growth (6,700 jobs), with the number of jobs increasing by 10 per cent, (4,100 jobs) in Lichfield. Redditch and Tamworth also demonstrated strong growth rates, with a six per cent (2,000 jobs) and five per cent (1,400) increase in jobs respectively.

New GBSLEP chair Steve Hollis, former Midlands chair at KPMG in Birmingham, who has served as deputy at the LEP from May 2011, said the strong employment numbers were underpinned by a spirit of collaboration in the region between the public, private and education sectors to create the conditions to foster private sector confidence to invest in the region.

Hollis, who recently took over the reins at the GBSLEP, following former chair Andy Street’s departure to run as the Conservative candidate for West Midlands Mayor in 2017, said:

This really positive increase in private sector jobs is part of a wider story – the desire to drive a tangible difference in the lives of people living in this region.

It is this passion for positive change that has seen this region capitalise on the exciting economic advantages which have come – and will continue to come – our way.

Greater Birmingham will play a pivotal role in the future success of the UK economy post Brexit. We are the only region with a trade surplus with China and we are ideally placed to play our full part in the Government’s emerging Industrial Strategy. This is our time and we have a responsibility to deliver on our potential for the benefit of those who live in our region and for the UK.

Mr Hollis also sounded a cautionary note. There were still many areas for improvement, particularly around increasing skills, although the boost in private sector jobs was “hugely positive”. He added:

It’s an exciting time to be here – there are large infrastructure projects such as Curzon, HS2 and Paradise that are attracting major investment, there are more powers over our own destiny being passed from central Government. It’s our mission at the GBSLEP to make sure that everyone feels that benefit and to take advantage of all the opportunities they can bring.

The GBSLEP area has seen a 9.5 per cent increase in employment numbers from 2010 to 2015 – taking its total to over 880,000. Between 2010 and 2015, the GBSLEP saw a 16 per cent growth, outperforming all other core city regions as well as the national growth picture of 13 per cent during that period.

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