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North East Local Enterprise Partnership reaction to ONS regional labour market statistics.

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s Strategy and Policy Director, Richard Baker, has commented on today’s regional labour market statistics, released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS)*.  

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s Strategy and Policy Director, Richard Baker, has commented on today’s regional labour market statistics, released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS)*.  

“As we move out of COVID-19 controls into a policy agenda focused on levelling up the national economy, today’s data supports the need for government to focus this agenda on a group of issues in the northern labour market.

“Today’s figures show furlough has been successful in containing the rise of unemployment amongst employees throughout the pandemic. Early commentators suggested the impact of COVID-19 could see North East regional unemployment exceed 10% but today it is around just half that at 5.1%.

“They also show a bounce back in employee numbers in the region. Between February and November 2020, payrolled employee numbers in the North East LEP area fell by almost 20,000 or 2.5%. However, between November 2020 and October 2021, numbers increased by almost 32,000, resulting in a figure 1.5% higher than it was pre-pandemic – which is good news. But there are also significant challenges.

“The region’s economic ambitions set out in our Strategic Economic Plan are that the North East has more people working, with fewer unemployed people (not in work but looking for work) and fewer being economically inactive (having left the labour market) compared with the rest of the country.

“Today, we can see that whilst we’ve had the largest decrease in the unemployment rate over the last year, this has not been accompanied by an increased employment rate. Instead, the economic inactivity rate has increased by more than in any other English region, with an additional 32,000 working age people being inactive compared to the same period of 2020. Recent increases in inactivity have been particularly large among older workers.

“There is more work to do to understand the detail behind these changes. However, we can see that the North East region has about 4,200 fewer employees in manufacturing than pre-Covid, with decreases in some service sectors too. Meanwhile there have been large increases in the number of employees in sectors such as health, science and education as our economy changes.

“Experimental data produced this month seems to confirm the trend we saw last month that we are seeing large numbers of older workers leaving the labour force, as well as continuing challenges for the very youngest.

“Both the North West and Yorkshire and the Humber have also experienced falling employment and rising inactivity, but this is not true elsewhere in England, highlighting the need for distinct employment policies for the North.

ENDS.

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North East businesses helping young people at risk of long-term unemployment into work

Employers in the North East are helping young people at risk of long term unemployment take their first steps into the workplace.

Businesses including Sunderland-based automotive manufacturer Unipres have signed up to the Kickstart Scheme, which provides funding to employers to create six month job placements for people aged between 16 and 24 who are receiving Universal Credit.

Unipres currently employs 35 Kickstart trainees and has plans to recruit five more in the next few weeks.

Rob Dodds, Apprentice Coordinator at Unipres, explained: “The reason we got involved is that it’s an ideal opportunity to give young people a chance to gain valuable experience in the workplace.

“They’re indispensable to the business as well – it’s another form of recruitment for us and these are the future stars. It’s a win-win situation for the business and for the trainees.”

The Kickstart Scheme offers funding to cover the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, plus the associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions. Funding is also available to support young people to develop new skills and to help them move into sustained employment after they have completed their Kickstart-funded job.

20-year-old Ehsan Izadi, who is working as part of the Quality Assurance team at Unipres, said: “I was working in a pizza shop but when COVID came around, the shop was closed. I was looking for a job and saw the opportunity with Unipres. It was easy to apply through the job centre and it was a big opportunity for me.

“I like learning and improving my CV – if you have six months experience at Unipres it’s really important for your CV.”

Another North East business taking part in the Kickstart scheme is Northumbrian Water. Kay Penney, Human Resources Director at Northumbrian Water, said: “When the Kickstart Scheme was announced by the Government, we jumped at the opportunity to support young people to increase their employment prospects.

“So many of our workforce have come to us as young people, taking their first steps in the world of work, or returning to employment after enforced breaks, and they have become valuable employees playing important roles in our business.

“The jobs market is a very competitive place at the moment, whatever experience you have, but we know many young people are really finding it hard to get a break. We hope that the experience, learning and qualification they get from coming to us through the Kickstart Scheme will give them a valuable step up.”

Michelle Rainbow, Skills Director at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, added: “Through Kickstart, businesses can help young people gain skills and experience that will help them to avoid long-term unemployment.

“And of course, support like this is especially important now, as so many young people have seen their plans affected by the pandemic. The fact that the North East business community has the opportunity to step up and help young people avoid unemployment is fantastic.”

Joanne Jobling, Service Leader for DWP in Northumberland, Tyne & Wear said:

“Kickstart has already made a remarkable difference to the lives of many young people – with the support of businesses, we want to maximise the impact of Kickstart in the North East, changing more lives for the better and supporting our economy now and in the future. We are working closely with the North East LEP and other key partners to encourage as many young people as possible to contact their local jobcentre to apply for the fantastic opportunities that are being created.”

Businesses in the North East can apply to join the Kickstart Scheme through the North East Growth Hub. Businesses can also register to join an online event by the IoD North East on 30 June, explaining more about Kickstart. Register for a free place here.

Kickstart vacancies in the North East will be advertised via northeastopportunities.co.uk.

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North East Local Enterprise Partnership reaction to ONS regional labour market statistics – June 2021.

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s (North East LEP) Strategy and Policy Director, Richard Baker, has commented on today’s regional labour market statistics, released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS)*.  

“The headline North East regional employment data confirms the progressive improvement of the economy as Covid-19 controls are released, but also shows clearly that there is a long way to go for our region. The latest employment total was 2,000 higher than in the previous quarter, while unemployment had decreased by 4,000.  

“Despite these improvements, the region had the lowest regional employment rate at 71.9%, compared to 75.5% across England and the unemployment rate (5.9% of the economically active) was the second highest in England. The North East also continues to have the highest percentage of working age people who are economically inactive (23.5%). 

“COVID-19 continues to have an impact on the working lives of many people in the North East region. About 4,500 workers experienced redundancy in the latest quarter, bringing the total to 29,000 in the latest 12 months. In addition, 48,000 self-employed workers in the region had claimed support in the first few weeks of the latest grant of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).  

“At the end of April, over 115,000 workers in the region were still furloughed and, although classified as employed in the official statistics, many were in an uncertain position about their futures. Over a quarter of these worked in food and accommodation services and 8% were in arts, entertainment and recreation. As we have heard from industry leaders this week, jobs in these sectors are particularly likely to be impacted by yesterday’s four-week extension of restrictions.  

“The latest job seekers claimant count data continues to highlight how the impact is uneven in different places with large variations in unemployment within the North East LEP area. There are 25 wards, spread across all seven local authorities, with a claimant count rate of 10 per cent or more, while 18 wards have rates of less than a quarter of that. This count also highlighted that one in five claimants in the North East LEP area were aged under 25. 

It is essential that Government continues to balance health risks and economic impacts ensuring that there is a steady and predictable pathway to removing controls for business and employers, and that decisions to slow progress are accompanied with ongoing support to the economy. 

Over the longer term, our Recovery Plan sets out proposals to drive forward our vision of a more sustainable, competitive and inclusive regional economy. The North East LEP will continue to work with Government and our partners to provide support to our economy over the next few months and seek investment into these proposals. 

*The official data released today includes employment information based on surveys in three month period February to April 2021 for the North East region, which includes the North East and Tees Valley LEP areas. It also includes experimental estimates of payrolled employee numbers and job seekers claimant count numbers for May 2021. 

Ends. 

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Emma Ward – Research, Evidence and Analysis Programme Manager – discusses the new Economic Analyst role at the North East LEP (applications close 17 June, 9am)

For the North East to grow a modern, diverse and entrepreneurial economy it’s essential we continue to understand the industrial structure of our region, the performance of the regional business community and the makeup of our workforce.

We do that by accessing data, research and insights, which we then translate for colleagues here at the LEP and partners across the region. It provides us the evidence base we need to make informed decisions to drive growth in the North East economy.  

Throughout the past eighteen months, the research and analysis team at the North East LEP has had an increasingly important role to play and we know that role is only going to become more prominent. The UK’s exit from the European Union and the coronavirus pandemic has seen high demand for accurate and timely data as will the strategy and policy work that informs our recovery

Because of this, we’re expanding our team to include an Economic Analyst. The new role within our team will ensure we can continue to provide our partners in business, government and academia with the insight to lead our region’s economic recovery.

As a small team, we’re looking for people that share our passion for building a stronger North East economy using a robust evidence base. We’re looking for someone who is naturally inquisitive and can identify areas for further exploration, for example opening up new data sources and exploring innovative datasets such as social listening.   

Communicating our evidence activities in a clear and accessible way is vital for them to be effective – especially as we work across a range of sectors and industries. We’d welcome applications from experienced analysts with an interest or background in data visualisation too.

The North East LEP is a collaborative organisation and we work very closely with colleagues and partners across the region. We are therefore looking for people that enjoy working as part of team and have experience of building relationships with internal and external partners. This is one of our four core values which are embedded into everything we do. These values are Think Bigger, Better Together, Do the Right Thing and Make a Difference.

We’d like to work alongside someone that can help bring data to life and really demonstrate how it impacts people living and working in our region.

More information about the role can be found here. Interested applicants should also visit northeastdatahub.co.uk to see some examples of the research and data we gather about the region.

This is an exciting time to join the North East LEP, particularly in the research and analysis team. The economic strategies and policies being developed to lead the region’s economic recovery are all underpinned by strong research, economic analysis and evaluation.

For an informal discussion about the role, feel free to contact me directly by emailing [email protected].

Find out more about the Economic Analyst role and apply here

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Reaction to ONS regional labour market statistics – May 2021.

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s (North East LEP) Strategy and Policy Director, Richard Baker, has commented on today’s (18 May 2021) regional labour market statistics, released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The official data released today includes employment information based on surveys in the first quarter of 2021 for the North East region, which includes the North East and Tees Valley LEP areas. It also includes experimental estimates of payrolled employee numbers and job seekers claimant count numbers for April 2021.

“The headline North East regional data released today is encouraging after the challenges of the last year with signs of improvement in the labour market in the first three months of 2021. Employment increased by 14,000 compared to the last quarter of 2020 and unemployment decreased by 13,000. 

“However, this is just the start of the recovery and there is much work to do. Despite these increases, the figures show that the region has the lowest working age employment rate at 72.2%, compared to 75.5% across England. It also has the third highest unemployment rate in England (5.4% of the economically active) and the highest proportion of working age people who are economically inactive (23.5%).

“Over the past year, Covid-19 has impacted on the lives of many people in the North East region. About 32,000 workers have been made redundant since the start of 2020 and the number of payrolled employees in April was about 18,000 lower than in February 2020. At the end of March, almost 140,000 workers in the region were still furloughed. This meant that they were classified as employed in the official statistics, but in an uncertain position about their futures. About 44% of these worked in either food and accommodation services or retail, which highlights how important the impact of the changes to the rules which are now happening will be to North East employment trends during 2021.

“The latest job seekers claimant count continues to highlight large variations in unemployment within the North East LEP area. More than 30 wards, spread across all seven local authorities, have a claimant count rate of over 10 per cent, while a similar number have rates of less than a third of that. This count also highlighted that one in five claimants in the North East LEP area were aged under 25.

“As the controls on the economy are unlocked, the North East LEP will continue to work with Government and our partners to drive forward our vision of a more sustainable, competitive and inclusive regional economy.

Ends.

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North East Local Enterprise Partnership reaction to ONS regional labour market statistics.

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s (North East LEP) Strategy and Policy Director, Richard Baker, has commented on today’s regional labour market statistics, released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

“This release provides official data to the end of 2020 and enables us to see the full picture about the impact COVID-19 had on the region’s labour market in 2020.

“Looking at the figures for the last quarter of 2020, the number of unemployed people seeking work in the North East region, including the North East LEP and the Tees Valley LEP areas, was 18 per cent higher than in the first quarter of the year. The North East employment rate is the lowest in England at 71.2 per cent and 29,000 people were made redundant in the region during 2020, the highest total since 2012.

“In the later months of 2020, the labour market was less volatile than earlier in the year, but the statistics do not yet include the full impact of the restrictions since Christmas.

“In the North East LEP area, the number of people claiming unemployment-related benefits has increased by over 30,000 since March 2020.

“It is important to look at the detail to understand where the biggest impact has been felt and to identify key future policy challenges. Overall, the impact has been highest in younger age groups and one in ten people are claiming unemployment-related benefits in some areas.

“Another striking feature is the different impact on men and women. Compared with the first quarter of the year, the number of unemployed women in the region has increased by 10,000 or 47 per cent, while male unemployment has grown by 2,000 (just over 4 per cent).

“Yesterday’s announcement from government gives a clear pathway out of lockdown and will offer hope for many people after a very difficult year. However, it remains an uncertain time for businesses as we move to cautiously lift the COVID-19 controls and continue to adapt to new processes following the Trade Deal with the European Union.

“Support for those businesses remaining under restrictions due to the pandemic needs to continue and strategic leadership and a strong partnership with government will be critical as we look to drive forward our regional economy and address some of the key challenges which COVID-19 has created in our region.”

Ends.

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Regional health innovation experts help Dräger UK secure multimillion-pound PPE deal

Blyth-based Dräger is due to begin a lucrative contract supplying the government with respiratory masks following support from three key regional organisations.

The Academic Health Science Network for the North East and North Cumbria (AHSN NENC), the Innovation SuperNetwork and the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP) worked in collaboration to provide expert guidance to help strengthen Dräger’s pitch to government to supply the NHS with respiratory protection masks in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was announced last month that the government has now placed a multimillion-pound order with Dräger to supply respiratory protection masks (FFP3) over the course of this year and next.

The deal will bring investment and jobs into the region as the company plans to set up a mask production operation based in Blyth, Northumberland, alongside four other production sites across the globe.

Alex Duthie, UK Sales Director, Dräger, said: “The AHSN NENC were invaluable to our bid for the PPE Government contract. They were able to get our name to the right people and assisted in building our profile as an existing and trusted supplier within the NHS. Whenever an opportunity arose, the AHSN NENC, Innovation SuperNetwork and North East LEP were advocates of ours, and we couldn’t have done it without them.”

The Innovation SuperNetwork contacted Dräger earlier this year after learning they were keen to open a PPE manufacturing plant in response to the growing demand for respiratory masks during the pandemic. The Innovation SuperNetwork then introduced the local Dräger team to the AHSN NENC, which is a key member of NHS England’s regional emergency response procurement cell.

The AHSN NENC worked closely with Dräger to develop a proposal around its manufacturing plans which was pitched to the regional and national leads involved in the NHS procurement cell.

In addition, the AHSN NENC also coordinated with NHS Trusts across the region to provide samples of Dräger’s products which received positive responses from the frontline.

Stephen Lynn, Business Manager at the AHSN NENC, said: “Gaining access to the NHS can be a difficult and daunting prospect for businesses. The AHSN NENC’s close links with the healthcare system allows us to act as a conduit to help open doors and speed up the process of innovations reaching the frontline.

“We are proud to have been able to support Dräger through this process and we’re delighted that the company is now in a position to expand its PPE manufacturing operation, which will bring vital investment and job opportunities into the region.

“This is a prime example of how by working collaboratively with partners across the region, we can quickly identify, develop and support businesses with innovations that have potential to make a real impact both within the health and care system and the regional economy.”

Steph Oxley, Innovation Manager at the Innovation SuperNetwork, initially supported Dräger and made the introduction to the AHSN NENC. She said: “The successful outcome for Dräger expanding their operation, after engaging with the NHS to understand the long term need for PPE, is a fantastic example of how collaboration across the innovation ecosystem can have immediate and long-term impact for businesses, industries and the local economy. The Innovation SuperNetwork works to embed innovation in key regional clusters, connecting industry with suppliers and enabling partnerships to further innovation and business growth. It’s great to see our intervention in this case led to such a positive result for all involved.”

Alan Welby, Director of Innovation at the North East LEP, said: “This is an excellent example of what can happen with strong leadership, a focus on collaboration and a determination to make things happen.

“It is fantastic to see Dräger secure this multimillion-pound PPE deal which will create many new jobs within the region – what a fantastic outcome from the crisis caused by COVID-19.”

Dräger’s order from the British government to deliver respiratory protection masks (FFP3) will start in 2020 and will stretch until the end of 2021. The expected net sales are roughly EUR 100 million.

A mask production facility will be set up in the UK, in the Blyth area of Northumberland. There, Dräger has had a development and production site for respiratory protection technology for firefighters and industry for over 50 years. This is in addition to the existing production network in Sweden and South Africa and the recently decided new production sites in France and the US. The investment in the expansion of production capacities across all five production sites will require a mid-double-digit million euro amount in the 2020 financial year.

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North East Local Enterprise Partnership reaction to ONS regional labour market statistics – January 2020

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP), has commented on today’s regional labour market statistics, released by the Office for National Statistics.

The data covers both the North East LEP and Tees Valley LEP areas and is for the August to October 2019 quarter.

In addition, Annual Population Survey data for the period October 2018 to September 2019 has also been released.  This dataset is available at the LEP-level and is used to measure progress against four of the North East LEP’s targets.

Senior Economist, Victoria Sutherland said, “Today’s labour market statistics show a mixed picture.

“Looking first at the regional labour market statistics, this shows that there has been a small decline in the number of people employed across the North East region over the last three months, with 2,000 fewer people in work in September to November than between June to August.”

“Over the same period, unemployment increased by 5,000, whilst the number of people that are outside the labour market – those who are not actively seeking work for a wide range of reasons, including full-time study, looking after family and home, disability and ill-health, and retirement – has decreased by 3,000.

“As we have previously highlighted, the last year has been characterised by a high degree of fluctuation with labour market conditions improving in some quarters and deteriorating in others. This fluctuation has been observed in all regions and nations of the UK, but the North East appears to have been particularly hard hit with the largest increase in unemployment rate over the last year. The North East is also one of only three English regions to have seen a decrease in its employment rate for 16 to 64-year olds.

“Looking at longer term trends, the North East LEP set itself a target of increasing the number of jobs in its area by 100,000 between 2014 and 2024, and for 70% of jobs created to be ‘better jobs’, defined as managerial, professional and technical roles. Today’s data covers the period October 2018 to September 2019 and shows that the number of jobs in the North East has increased by 73,100 since our baseline of April 2013 to March 2014. The increase in managerial, professional and technical roles has been 73,900 – meaning that all of the jobs growth has been in these ‘better jobs’ whilst there has been a small decrease in other jobs areas such as administrative and retail. There has been particularly strong growth in managerial, professional and technical jobs over the last year, with an increase of 24,500.

“The North East LEP will continue to work with its partners to deliver more and better jobs for the region through the Strategic Economic Plan. We will work to secure commitment from the new government to unlock investment to allow the region to create new opportunities for businesses and residents.”

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North East Local Enterprise Partnership reaction to ONS regional labour market statistics – December 2019

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), has commented on today’s regional labour market statistics, released by the Office for National Statistics.

The data covers both the North East LEP and Tees Valley LEP areas and is for the August to October 2019 quarter.

Senior Economist, Victoria Sutherland said, “Today’s labour market statistics for the North East region are a disappointing end to the year.

“The number of people in employment has declined by 10,000 compared to the previous quarter and by 14,000 over the year.

“Looking at the decline over the quarter in more detail, it’s notable that this decline has been driven by fewer men in employment – with 16,000 fewer in work – whilst the number of women in work has increased by 6,000.

“Unemployment has increased by 15,000 over the last three months and by 9,000 over the year. The unemployment rate is now 6.1% and is the highest of all UK regions.

“2019 has been characterised by slower employment growth across the whole of the UK than in previous years and by fluctuation and variation across the country. The North East has been affected by the uncertainty in the economy.”

Commenting on the statistics, Andrew Hodgson, Chair of the North East LEP, said: “2020 will be a key year for the North East. The North East LEP will continue to work with its partners to deliver more and better jobs for the region through the Strategic Economic Plan. We will work to secure commitment from the new government to unlock investment to allow the region to create new opportunities for businesses and residents.”