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The Black Country is gearing itself up for global competitiveness. Black Country LEP Annual Conference builds confidence across the business

Over 150 guests from public and private sector organisations, professional bodies and businesses in the Black Country were presented with an up-date on the transformation of the Black Country economy at the Black Country LEP Annual Conference on Wednesday 11 May at West Bromwich Albion Football Club.

Hosted by ITV Central’s Sameena Ali-Khan, speakers included Dr Chris Handy, Ninder Johal, Keith Ireland and Lord Digby Jones. The Annual Conference focused on Black Country LEP progress and developments as well as up-dating on how the Black Country is playing its role as part of the West Midlands Combined Authority.

Following the release of key Black Country economic trends via a social media campaign ahead of the Conference, the Black Country Annual Economic Review was formally launched at the business event. Highlights for 2015 include:

Population Growth – The population continues to rise in the Black Country bringing the total to 1.16m, with the Black Country being the fourth highest LEP in terms of young people.

Jobs Growth – The Black Country workforce has reached a 4 year high with manufacturing jobs at their highest since 2010, with 900 new jobs created in the sector over the last year.

GVA Growth – The Black Country has seen an increase in GVA, with the total standing at £19.4bn with each resident generating an additional £300.

Wages Growth – Wages are up with the Black Country in the top two fastest growing LEPs in terms of resident wages.

Business Growth – The Black Country has 33,385 active businesses, a 10 year high for the area with business births continuing to increase with 4570 new businesses created in 2014 alone.

Improving Qualifications – More Black Country residents are educated to degree level or above whilst those with no qualifications is reducing. The proportion of Black Country 16 – 18 year olds not in education, employment or training has fallen.

Talking at the event Lord Digby Jones said: "I must applaud the Black Country’s commitment to its skills programme and congratulate the Black Country on its ambitious plans. It really is a place gearing itself up for global competitiveness.”

Dr Chris Handy OBE, Black Country LEP Board Member said: "The Black Country is making fantastic progress and the Annual Economic Review reports good news for employment and skills with a growing workforce and more residents gaining education and training as well as highlighting that the Black Country is the place for business with increases in active businesses and new businesses. The Black Country LEP will continue to move forward in 2016 working collaboratively to cement the Black County’s position as a prime location to live, work and invest in.”

The full Black Country Annual Economic Review is available to download from

Photo caption (L-R): Ninder Johal, Sameena Ali- Khan, Lord Digby Jones, Sarah Middleton, Dr Chris Handy OBE and Keith Ireland.

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