New business chief welcomes growth figures

18,600 additional private sector jobs created in the region in 2015.

The thousands of new jobs created in the region last year is due to the growing confidence in the local economy, supported by investment in infrastructure, business support and skills, according to the new chair of the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership.

Latest figures have revealed that between 2014 and 2015 an additional 18,600 private sector jobs were created in the LEP region, a £40 billion economic area which covers a population of around two million from North Worcestershire to East Staffordshire.

The largest increase in private sector jobs last year came in Solihull, which saw a seven per cent growth (6,700 jobs), with the number of jobs increasing by 10 per cent, (4,100 jobs) in Lichfield. Redditch and Tamworth also demonstrated strong growth rates, with a six per cent (2,000 jobs) and five per cent (1,400) increase in jobs respectively.

The numbers mean that the GBSLEP has now created 104,100 of its target 119,000 private sector jobs to be delivered by 2020, helped by the success of Birmingham’s Enterprise Zone, strong levels of inward investment and Local Growth Fund projects such as the Kingswood Lakeside land remediationproject in Cannock. In addition to this, improved access to finance, including the award winning Business Growth Programme and small business support through the GBSLEP’s Growth Hub have also been instrumental drivers.

New GBSLEP chair Steve Hollis, former chair at KPMG in Birmingham, who has served as deputy at the LEP from May 2011, said the strong employment numbers were underpinned by a spirit of collaboration in the region between the public, private and education sectors to create the conditions to foster private sector confidence to invest in the region.

Hollis, who recently took over the reins at the GBSLEP, following former chair Andy Street’s departure to run for West Midlands Mayor in 2017, said: “This really positive increase in private sector jobs is part of a wider story – the desire to drive a tangible difference in the lives of people living in this region.

“It is this passion for positive change that has seen this region capitalise on the exciting economic advantages which have come – and will continue to come – our way.

“Greater Birmingham will play a pivotal role in the future success of the UK economy post Brexit. We are the only region with a trade surplus with China and we are ideally placed to play our full part in the Government’s emerging Industrial Strategy. This is our time and we have a responsibility to deliver on our potential for the benefit of those who live in our region and for the UK.”

Hollis added: “While there were still many areas for improvement, particularly around increasing skills – the boost in private sector jobs was hugely positive.

“It’s an exciting time to be here – there are large infrastructure projects such as Curzon, HS2 and Paradise that are attracting major investment, there are more powers over our own destiny being passed from central Government. It’s our mission at the GBSLEP to make sure that everyone feels that benefit and to take advantage of all the opportunities they can bring.”

The GBSLEP area has seen a 9.5 per cent increase in employment numbers from 2010 to 2015 – taking its total to over 880,000. Between 2010 and 2015, the GBSLEP saw a 16 per cent growth, outperforming all other core city regions as well as the national growth picture of 13 per cent during that period.