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GBSLEP to take charge of skills as Government signals Midland devolution move

GBSLEP to take charge of skills as Government signals Midland devolution move

🕔12.Feb 2015

Every job vacancy in Birmingham and the West Midlands will be brought together in one place for the first time under a major new initiative to match workers with apprenticeships, training opportunities and skilled jobs.

The initiative will be led by Andy Street, chair of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership and is being sold by the Government as an important step forward in delivering economic growth for the region.

Chancellor George Osborne gave details of the scheme today while unveiling a six-point long-term economic plan to “make the Midlands an engine for growth”.

Mr Osborne said:

Andy Street has agreed to work with local businesses and bring all their vacancies together for the first time in one place.

This will make it to make it easier for local jobseekers at all levels, from school leavers, to middle managers and skilled engineers to find good jobs.

And to match these people to good jobs we will invest in 100 new job coaches to help them access the training and apprenticeships they need to get work.

It is a brilliant new idea from Andy and the Local Enterprise Partnership and we’re backing it.

The Chancellor also gave his backing to the Birmingham Baccalaureate, a joint initiative between the city council and the CBI to equip school leavers with the right skills to find work.

Mr Osborne said: “We are going to expand the Birmingham Baccalaureate. It is a fantastic scheme, championed by the CBI, where pupils work on projects designed by local large employers so we’re certain they’re acquiring the right skills. I want every secondary school in the city to be able to take advantage of it.”

He promised to put skills at the heart of economic revival for the Midlands, adding that the government was prepared to devolve power over skills, which is currently centred in Whitehall, to local authorities and local enterprise partnerships in the Midlands, “on the condition that different areas combine together to produce a strong joint plan”.

The Government’s aim is to raise economic output in the Midlands to at least the average for the UK. This would add an extra £34 billion to the Midlands economy in real terms by 2030, equivalent to over £3,000 per person.

Mr Osborne added:

Although the Midlands accounts for 16 per cent of the UK’s population, it only accounts for 13 per cent of the total economic output.

Only a small difference on paper, but over time this leads to a notable difference in prosperity

It’s driven by a gap in productivity. In other words, the ability to get the most out of this area’s transport, science, and above all, talented workforce.

The Chancellor’s plan, which consists largely of initiatives already announced over the past year dusted off for a pre-general election launch, promises to:

  • Create 300,000 extra jobs by backing the core strengths of the local economy including advanced manufacturing and engineering
  • Deliver £5.2 billion of investment into new transport infrastructure in the Midlands, upgrading motorways to four lanes, delivering faster north-south rail connections and east-west links, and making the most of the economic opportunities of HS2
  • Improve the quality of life by regenerating run-down estates, investing in the county towns, supporting the construction of 30,000 new homes and making improvements to education so 150,000 more pupils attend outstanding schools.

Work will begin on upgrading the M1 and M5 to four lanes in summer 2015, and a business case will be developed for electrifying the main rail lines between Bristol and Birmingham and Derby and Birmingham. The Chancellor will also back plans for a High Speed Rail Investment Summit in Birmingham.

Mr Osborne added that local leaders, universities and businesses would be invited to work together on building a strong case for new science investment in the Midlands, including looking at proposals for a new national hub for energy research.

Under a timetable for action Mr Osborne noted that the Birmingham Curzon Urban Regeneration Company will meet in March for the first time, and will produce a dedicated HS2 Growth Strategy by 30 April, setting out the jobs and growth that HS2 will unlock.

The new company will lead the development of over 140 hectares of land around Curzon Street where the new HS2 station will be located in the heart of Birmingham city centre.

The redevelopment could create 14,000 jobs, 600,000 square metres of new employment floor-space and 4,000 homes, contributing up to £1.3 billion a year to the local economy, according to the Government.

Similarly, Solihull will also produce by 30 April a HS2 Growth Strategy for the new HS2 interchange station near the NEC and Birmingham Airport setting out a vision for UK Central to maximise the potential of this major new rail gateway to the north. It will also establish its Local Delivery Body by the end of 2015.

Under the Midlands Connect initiative, a group of LEPs, will use Growth Deal funding to identify strategic road and rail interventions across the East and West Midlands required to become “HS2 ready”. To support this, the Transport Secretary will attend a conference to review how Government works with the LEPs in Midlands Connect to implement trans- LEP transport plans

The Government has committed support for the Future Skills Capital Programme for the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP  as part of a £21.4 million Growth Deal expansion which will support additional course provision at colleges including Employability & Enterprise, Maintaining Quality Provision and Advanced Life Sciences, delivering 3,000 – 5,000 skills outputs.

Part of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull £21.4 million Growth Deal expansion will support an extension to the existing Faraday Wharf incubator building at the Innovation Birmingham Campus to provide an additional 445m2 of state of the art enterprise space. This funding will enable local universities to collaborate with business start-ups, creating 1,800 jobs and supporting the Enterprise Zone.

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