In the Third Annual Review of the economic performance and characteristics of the 39 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) areas, Worcestershire has been ranked top of the league for its firms’ product to market strategies.
The ranking is based on the extent to which businesses compete more on product and service quality, sophistication and market leadership rather than price. Worcestershire recorded the highest share of such firms when compared with other 38 LEP areas – a testament to their capability to create and maintain ‘value added’ products, services and jobs
Worcestershire was also identified as one of the top five LEP areas in terms of a number of performance indicators that measure competitiveness. For example, Worcestershire LEP area saw the 4th highest improvement in numbers of people employed in Level 4 (highly skilled) occupations and 3rd highest improvement in numbers of people in Level 1 (low skilled occupations). Another measure of competitiveness points to the fact that although Worcestershire has above average numbers of people employed in Level 4 occupations, it offers below-average workplace salaries. Although this could be seen as bad news for the employees themselves, it’s potentially good for attracting inward investment as higher-skilled workers can be recruited at a lower cost than in other areas.
Worcestershire ranks in the top ten both for the number of employees working in high and medium technology manufacturing industries and for the number employed in manufacturing per se. The county is ranked joint 7th for the proportion of residents employed in science and engineering – a positive indicator that Worcestershire has capacity and capability for research, development and innovation.
Finally, the county also fares well in terms of levels of unemployment with the 6th lowest rates of unemployment in the whole of England.
However, the report wasn’t all good news for Worcestershire. The county performs less well than others in terms of exports and inward investment. There are also significant concerns about the potential for the workforce to grow in the future as current population projections show a decline in the potential working age population to 2021.
Peter Pawsey, Executive Chair of the Worcestershire LEP, says: “We were heartened to read many of the statistics contained in this latest report from the LEP Network. There is some really good news here. It was a useful tool too for confirming several of the issues of which the LEP is already aware – particularly to do with international trade and demographics. Of major concern is the potential for a decline in our working population and we must increase inward and indigenous business investment as well as accelerating the provision of housing, infrastructure and amenities across the whole county in order to retain and attract more workers to avoid our economy stagnating. We are working with partners to address these concerns, particularly in Worcestershire’s Strategic Economic Plan recently submitted to Government”
The LEP Network Report ‘Building Local Advantage: Review of Local Enterprise Partnership area economies in 2014’ can be downloaded here.