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Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

The Only Way Is Up

As we are all aware, the West Midlands region is facing some incredibly tough years to come; but as Dave Pinwell, SUSTAiN’s Chief Executive Officer explains, the third sector potentially has an important role to play in aiding recovery.

I was at a meeting in Birmingham last week at which a chap from Advantage West Midlands spoke about ‘Recession in Recovery in Birmingham and Solihull’. It was not easy listening: 

  • The PMI (Purchasing Managers Index) Output Index (which measures business optimism from the manufacturer’s perspective) for the West Midlands is lowest of the 9 UK regions.
  • The West Midlands average growth in GVA (gross value added) per head (of population)  is the lowest of the 9 UK regions.
  • In the 12 months to September 2009, the West Midlands had the highest unemployment rate of the 9 UK regions.

The discussion that followed indicated that:

  • The unemployment situation is not going to improve any time soon
  • Skilled youngsters coming out of education will continue to struggle to get jobs without experience under their belt.
  • Older people will want to work longer because of changing economic conditions
  • The shift to the knowledge based economy will reduce demand for unskilled labour
  • Volunteering is going to become even more important for helping people into/back into employment and allowing people to give a valued contribution to the community whilst looking for work
  • Some jobs will remain unfilled because of a lack of people who match the skills/experience demands.

He concluded his talk by presenting what he saw as the four challenges facing the sub-region: 

  • To achieve a ‘rebalanced economy’
  • To create jobs for a growing workforce
  • To maintain momentum on regeneration and sustainable communities
  • To assist communities and individuals to adapt. 

None of the above is really eyebrow raising, rather it confirms what we already suspected or partly knew. It does, though, affirm the potential importance of our Sector in facing those ‘challenges’ effectively and how essential it is for us to work strategically in partnership with others to help our area respond.

When you at the bottom of the league table – the only way is up! Let’s be ambitious!!