West Midlands Combined Universities welcomes launch of Productivity and Skills Commission

West Midlands Combined Universities has welcomed the launch of the Productivity and Skills Commission which will place skills and training at the centre of the regional economy. The Commission was today (Wednesday 5 April) formally launched by the West Midlands Combined Authority with a focus on boosting skills across the region to create jobs and support growth.

Leaders at Coventry University, Birmingham City University and the University of Wolverhampton – which make up West Midlands Combined Universities – believe the launch shows the right ambition and emphasis in tackling skills gaps and raising productivity.

John Latham, Vice-Chancellor of Coventry University, said: “Universities are perfectly positioned to support the combined authority deliver the high-skilled economy that will help the West Midlands to prosper. We are the places where academia, teaching and industry come together to foster skills, research, innovation and enterprise. And we are also here to help raise aspirations and create opportunities and growth within our region. But we’re not solely focussed on training the next generation of work-ready graduates – through of course that’s vital – we are also looking at ways to re-train the workforce already earning with flexible degree options and partnering with businesses in the development of Degree Apprenticeships. Developing skills is a natural fit for us so we are pleased to see the launch of the commission and are ready and willing to help deliver on its objectives.”

Professor Julian Beer, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Birmingham City University, said: “Placing skills at the centre of the regional economy has the ability to reduce unemployment across the West Midlands, ensure our workforce is equipped for the jobs of today and underpin the ongoing prosperity of our region. By launching the Skills Commission, The Combined Authority has demonstrated a commitment to cutting the skills gap and maximising the many benefits that come from education and training. As a university the employability of our students is integral to the work that we do, and we wholeheartedly welcome this news which will bring benefits for businesses and students across the West Midlands.”

Professor Geoff Layer, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Wolverhampton, said: “Our ambitious five year £250 million investment programme – Our Vision, Your Opportunity – aims to increase the skills base in the region, helping to create jobs and supporting economic and social transformation. “We operate in a number of areas with identified skills gaps and are working with partners using alternative degree and teaching methods, including Degree Apprenticeships, to ensure that businesses have access to the skills they require. By investing in new facilities, new courses, learning and teaching, research, skills and training, Universities will lead the way in transforming the life chances of people within our communities.  Underpinned by a keen focus on forging links with business and industry, our combined strength will enable us to make a significant contribution to the skills agenda, shaping economic growth whilst maximising individual potential.”

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