North East LEP welcomes Careers Strategy and celebrates Gatsby Career Benchmarks success

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has today welcomed the news that the Government’s new Careers Strategy will centre around the eight Gatsby Good Career Guidance Benchmarks piloted here in the North East.

In September 2015, sixteen schools and colleges within the North East LEP area became the first in the UK to test the benchmarks, designed to equip the next generation with the skills needed by employers.

Within a year the North East LEP’s groundbreaking work in rolling out this pilot had attracted national acclaim.

Andrew Hodgson, chair of the North East LEP, said: “Good career guidance is crucial for social mobility.  We are delighted to see the Good Career Guidance Benchmarks front and centre of the Government’s national careers strategy.

“After piloting this approach in the North East over the past two years, and with over 100 schools now working to achieve the Benchmarks, we are seeing the hugely positive impact they can make to each and every pupil in schools and colleges.”

Michelle Rainbow, Skills Director for the North East LEP said: “I’d like to thank Gatsby for trusting in us to deliver the pilot and for recognising the North East LEP’s ability to influence national education policy.

“I’d also like to thank those schools and colleges who were initially involved through the pilot and to those who have since shown their support by signing up. The scale of the project has been critical in demonstrating the transformative power of the eight Gatsby benchmarks.

“Finally it’s important to recognise the team at the North East LEP who have worked tirelessly to roll out this initiative. Through our collaborative approach we have been able to demonstrate the resounding success of the Gatsby Good Career Guidance Benchmarks on a national level and showcase the excellent practice taking place here in the region.”

The Careers Strategy is backed by £4m of funding and includes a dedicated careers leader in all schools and colleges in the country to ensure people have access to the best careers support, giving them the best possible start to their professional life.

Sir John Holman, senior advisor to the Gatsby Foundation and author of the Gatsby Career Benchmark report, said: “Good Career Guidance is the key to social mobility. For young people coming from a background of low socioeconomic aspirations, school career guidance is their best hope of charting the way to a rewarding future career.

“We now know, from our international study and from the work of career guidance experts, what makes for good career guidance: it is described by the eight Gatsby benchmarks which have been shown by the pilot in the North East of England to have such a powerful positive effect in schools and colleges.

“I am very pleased that the Department for Education has put these benchmarks at the heart of its strategy.”

The North East LEP’s national facilitator for the Career Benchmarks Pilot, Ryan Gibson, said: “Since the North East became the first UK region to pilot the Good Career Guidance Benchmarks, the approach has proved to be transformational for careers guidance in our schools and colleges.

“At the pilot’s start, no UK school was achieving more than five benchmarks and 50% of schools and colleges in this region weren’t achieving any at all. Now 88% of our schools and colleges are achieving six to eight, with every single one achieving a minimum of four – the benchmarks are a vital part of our plan to ensure that every young person in the North East can make a successful transition into their future career.”

More information on the new Careers Strategy can be found here:

Details of the eight Gatsby Career Benchmarks can be found here:

For more information about the North East LEP’s Skills programme, please visit



North East Economic Partners provide joint response to government’s report on immigration

As Brexit talks continue between the UK and European Union, North East economic partners including the CBI, North East Chamber of Commerce, Federation of Small Businesses, Entrepreneurs Forum, TUC, North East LEP and North East Combined Authority, continue to work together to advise government on important issues for the North East economy implied by the decision to leave the European Union.

One of those areas is the future shape of the labour market, and in particular the availability of the skills we need to enable the delivery of the strategic economic plan.

Immigration, the economic and social impacts of Brexit and how the UK’s immigration system should be aligned with a modern industrial strategy, are key issues under consideration by the Government. In July, Home Secretary Amber Rudd commissioned the independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to advise government on migration trends to and from the European Economic Area and the UK, their impact on current recruitment, training and skills practice in the UK and on the economic, social and fiscal impacts of EEA migration and the potential impacts of any changes in UK policy.

The North East Economic Partners – working on behalf of the wider business, education and industry sectors – have delivered a combined response reflecting the current and future labour supply in the area, the role of EEA migrants in the North East labour force and survey evidence and case studies of the experience and views of North East businesses.

The key findings and recommendations were:

It is important that the composition of immigration data in the North East is understood

Whilst numbers of migrants in the North East population are relatively small compared with other regions of the UK, there are a high number of students enrolled in our region’s four universities and these are included in the data. Immigration data from the EEA also includes large numbers of older UK citizens and forces personnel returning from parts of Europe.

The concentration of migration in specific places and roles and the skill levels of these posts

Within the North East, there is a high concentration of migrants in cities and urban centres, in particular around Newcastle. Migrants in the labour force have a relatively high skill profile; working in higher value industrial jobs and in professional, managerial and technical roles across the economy including universities and healthcare.

The important contribution migrants have made to overall population growth experienced in region

The North East has recently returned to population growth, but at the same time seen significant population ageing. Our labour market growth and balance across age groups has been supported by migration and the higher birth rates amongst migrant populations.

Looking forward, there will job opportunities from both new jobs, and significant ‘replacement demand’ as older workers leave the labour market. We will need to replace these valuable skills by ensuring that people in all parts of the region have the skills to fill the jobs in the North East economy and by attracting people to the region from other parts of the UK and internationally at all levels of the labour force.

Internationalisation of North East business

The North East has secured significant foreign direct investment over recent years with many investors regarding our region as an opportunity to access European markets and supply chains. Parts of the region have a significantly higher proportion of employment in foreign owned businesses compared with other parts of the UK. Whilst the number of businesses hosting high numbers of international workers is small, the common framework of regulation and employment policy and the opportunity to recruit has been an important factor in decision making. There is already concern about the tone of the discussion on migration.

Businesses and economic development agencies work hard to secure skills and invest in training

North East businesses and agencies work hard to secure the skills they need and have invested in training and apprenticeship schemes, as well as seeking skills overseas, especially for high level skills. There is more to do and the area of skills and labour market development is a key priority within the strategic economic plan.

A post-Brexit immigration policy needs to consider potential dynamic effects on the North East

North East based EEA migrants include a higher proportion of higher skilled staff than in other areas in occupations such as engineering, digital, education and healthcare. There is a concern that the overall numbers in these occupations are restricted. Areas with a ‘thicker’ jobs market, London for example, may draw EEA migrants away from the North East. North East partners encouraged the MAC to recognise the potential dynamic impact on the North East labour market of migration controls elsewhere in the UK.

Read the North East Economic Partners full response to the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) here.


North East LEP ONS Regional Labour Market Statistics Reaction

North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Senior Economist Victoria Sutherland gave her reaction to today’s regional labour market statistics.

“It is disappointing to see a decline in the number of people in work and a rise in the numbers unemployed over the last quarter. We’ve seen the numbers in employment decline by 11,000 and the number of 16-64 year olds unemployed increase by 7,000.

However, it is worth noting that the North East’s labour market performance across the year as a whole has been positive overall with more people in work than a year ago and fewer unemployed,” said Victoria.

“In particular, the decline in the North East’s unemployment rate over the last year – from 7.6% to 6.1% – is the largest decline of all regions.”

Victoria added: “Many other regions have also seen challenging results this quarter. We will continue to monitor the data to understand whether this is the beginning of a trend or a short-term fluctuation. Nevertheless the results underline the need for continued investment to drive growth at this time of economic uncertainty.

“The North East LEP will continue to work with its partners to deliver the Strategic Economic Plan and to make the case that the Government’s Industrial Strategy must deliver for the North East.”

North East LEP ONS Labour Market Statistics reaction 12 July 2017

Victoria Sutherland, North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Senior Economist, today welcomed positive news in relation to the North East’s labour market.

Today’s data shows real improvement in the labour market with more people employed and economically active and fewer people unemployed and inactive.

The improvement in the North East’s employment rate for 16-64s is better over the past quarter than any of the other regions or nations in the UK.

We are especially pleased to see strong growth in the information and communication sector, which includes many digital activities. Over the past 12 months, employment in this sector has increased by 11,000 or 38%.

Our Strategic Economic Plan highlights digital as one of the key areas of opportunity for the North East, and this employment growth is just one of a number of recent signs that this sector is prospering.

When we look more deeply into the data, we see that it’s not just the growth in employment that is encouraging, but the growth in the number of people in full-time employment, with fewer people in part-time or temporary employment because they are unable to secure full-time or permanent employment.

North East LEP ONS Labour Market Statistics reaction

Victoria Sutherland, North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Senior Economist, today welcomed the continuing employment performance of the regional economy.

“Today’s ONS statistics show sustained and continuing employment growth and falling unemployment,” she said.

“Over the past year, the number of people in work has increased by 26,000 and 25,000 fewer are unemployed. Women account for almost two-thirds of the increase in employment, with an additional 17,000 women in work compared to a year ago.

“Amongst the 16-64-year-old population, the unemployment rate is 5.5%, compared to 7.4% last year.

“The employment rate is now 72.2%, up from 70.5% a year ago.

“Importantly, the North East continues to close the employment rate gap with the national average. This is one of the key performance targets in the Strategic Economic Plan, with the aspiration for the North East region to provide more and better employment opportunities in the decade up to 2024.”


ONS Labour Market Statistics reaction

Victoria Sutherland, North East Local Enterprise Partnership Senior Economist, said:

Today’s labour market statistics for the North East are positive, showing that employment in the North East has grown over both the quarter and the year.

An additional 27,000 people are in work compared to a year ago. This change has been driven by a growth in full-time work, with a fall in part-time work and self employment.

In addition to this welcome news regarding employment, we have seen a decline in unemployment and the unemployment rate.

The 14,000 fall in unemployment in the North East over the three months up until March accounts for just over a quarter of the overall national decline in unemployment.

North East jobs figures confirm employment is getting back on track

Richard Baker, North East Local Enterprise Partnership Head of Strategy and Policy, said today’s Office for National Statistics employment data confirmed employment was growing again in the region.

Increasing employment, and falling numbers of people out of work in the North East revealed in the latest quarter’s statistics, matched the longer term national trend of a steady improvement in the jobs picture.

These are positive signs. These latest figures confirm our employment position getting back on track after a difficult final quarter in 2016.

The statistics also show that 29,000 more people are in full-time work across the North East region, with the number of people in part-time work falling by 10,000 over the same period to the end of last year.

Importantly, over the last year there has also been a drop in the number of people reporting that they are taking part-time employment because they can’t find a full-time job.

We recognise that for many people, part-time work is the ideal fit for their lifestyle and circumstances.

But to see more people who want full time work being able to find it is encouraging

Economic inactivity remains a stubborn problem for the North East economy affecting our employment rate. We identify this in the Strategic Economic Plan and are working hard to tackle with our partners by giving people the skills and confidence they need to enter or re-enter the jobs market.

North East LEP reaction to latest employment data

The North East economy is performing positively against a number of key indicators but the stubborn challenge of unemployment remains a concern, the North East Local Enterprise Partnership said today commenting on the latest ONS employment statistics.

Helen Golightly, North East LEP Chief Operating Officer, said that the rise in the number of people out of work between last November and January was concerning, but that deeper analysis of data revealed a more buoyant regional economic picture.

“The North East economy is performing positively with a strong base making us more resilient to the challenges posed by a rise in unemployment,” said Helen.

“The longer term picture shows that the number of people out of work a year ago was a full percentage point higher than it is now and we still have near record numbers of people in work.

“Over the past three years, the number of full-time workers in the North East has grown from 804,000 to 857,000 – in the past 12 months alone 16,000 more people found full-time work.

“We’ve seen a particularly healthy growth in the number of young people finding employment and amongst people aged 50 to 64 in the year up to last September.

“There has also been a 20% fall in the number of 16 to 24-year-olds unemployed and a 15% drop in the number of 25 to 34-year-olds out of work during that period.”


North East employment growth weakens at the end of 2016 after strong opening

An encouraging year of economic gains for the region was tempered by a slowdown at the end of 2016, the North East Local Enterprise Partnership said today.

Reacting to the latest ONS employment data, Richard Baker, North East LEP Head of Strategy and Policy, said:

The end of the calendar year saw our region lose some of the gains it made in the first six months, such as a falling number of people in work.

This should be seen against the backdrop of some uncertainty nationally and internationally which will impact on companies in the North East.

The number of people unemployed has continued to fall throughout the year which is positive news for the regional economy and its future resilience.

What is encouraging in today’s data is the number of people finding employment in ‘Better’ jobs –  managerial, professional and technical personnel – has grown and then held firm in the latter half of 2016.

The latest figures for the last quarter show that nearly two out of three of the new jobs being created in the North East are in those better job positions.

This number is ahead of the target set out in the LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan for the North East, and is key to helping raise our economic performance and long term competitiveness.