Midlands Engine: Time for The Region To Take The Driving Seat
The arrival of last week’s Midlands Engine Strategy follows on the heels of the Industrial Strategy Green Paper, which we covered in an earlier blog. The strategy outlines the Government’s framework to drive growth across the LEP economies in the Midlands. It sets the Midlands Engine Partnership a clear task of developing an action plan over the coming months to work with businesses, local authorities, academic institutions, and LEPs to tackle the productivity gap. In 1997, the productivity gap between the Midlands and the UK average was about 10%. By 2015, it had grown to about 15%.
The strategy pinpoints three important issues holding the region back:
1. Shortage of skilled workers
2. Fragmented and segmented areas
3. Low levels of entrepreneurship and dynamism
Five objectives are set out: improving connectivity, strengthening skills, supporting enterprise and innovation, promoting the Midlands, and enhancing quality of life. Regeneris recently worked with the Midlands Engine team and partners across the East and West Midlands to facilitate a series of workshop discussions on some of these topics, which have now fed into the Midlands Engine Strategy. Although much work remains to be done, the £392m of growth deal investment announced at the same time marks as a start to collaborate investment across LEP boundaries.
Regeneris is particularly pleased to see that some of our past work is beginning to bear fruit. We helped the D2N2 LEP and the Stoke & Staffordshire LEP to develop their Growth Deal proposals, which underpins the Government’s commitment outlined in the strategy. We have also supported the Marches LEP and Black Country LEP with evidence bases to support their plans. Our team is now working with the Leicester & Leicestershire LEP and Stoke & Staffordshire LEP to refresh their economic plans and to better reflect the Midlands Engine’s priorities. Regeneris also worked closely with Herefordshire Council to develop the case for an £8m investment in a new engineering university for Hereford (NMITE).