Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and Mayoral Combined Authorities (MCAs) are leading on the sub-regional economic development agenda. They have been tasked with addressing the UK’s poor performance on productivity and skills. IER is supporting their work across a number of projects and activities, including work with the nine MCA’s Directors of Skills.
IER staff have also undertaken national and sub-regional work focusing on productivity, skills and inclusive growth, including the production of the WMCA’s Productivity and Skills Commission Annual Report 2019. The report brought together separate studies focusing on the five drivers of productivity (People, Place, Ideas, Infrastructure and Business Environment) and sectorally focused ‘deep dives’ (Business, Professional and Financial Services, Building & Construction Technologies, and Automotive). It provided recommendations and identified responsibilities for WMCA and the Commission to take forward.
Whilst there is a national focus on productivity, a growing number of LEPs and MCAs are focusing on prioritising inclusive growth. It is no use if areas achieve high levels of productivity through robots replacing many people’s jobs. Currently, IER is undertaking work with West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) and York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Enterprise Partnership to understand what is meant by inclusive growth. This work will also develop indicators through which inclusive is measured.
In July 2018, a workshop was held to bring together each of the nine MCA’s Directors of Skills who are working on similar issues and challenges but often in isolation. Held in London in July 2018, the workshop was chaired by Olly Newton of the Edge Foundation and included presentations by Jonathan Barr (OECD), as well as the Directors of Skills themselves. Such was the success of the workshop that a second event will be held in May 2019, hosted by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA). Findings from IER’s work on sub-regional skills strategies have also been presented to the national Research Review Group in February 2019. Peter Dickinson also sits on the WMCA’s Inclusive Growth Unit’s steering group.