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North East LEP ONS Regional Labour Market Statistics Reaction – October 2018

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

“We are pleased to see that unemployment in the North East continues to fall. There are 18,000 fewer people unemployed than a year ago and 4,000 fewer than last quarter.

“Over the year, the North East’s unemployment rate has fallen from 5.8% to 4.5%, the largest decline of all UK regions and nations. This is good news for the North East’s residents.

“Over the last quarter, we have also seen an increase in employment of 6,000. This is positive news as earlier in the year we experienced some falls in employment. Such short term movements highlight the uncertainty and challenges in the global economy and we are likely to see more of these in the coming months.

“Looking at the year to June, there has been growth in employment across a number of different sectors including professional, scientific and technical activities (which includes activities in law, accountancy, consultancy, architecture and engineering amongst others) and transport and storage.

“As well as those in employment and those that are unemployed, there is a third group that is comprised of those who do not have a job but are not actively seeking work.

“The number of working age people (aged 16 to 64) in this group has increased over the quarter and the year. Whilst this may initially look like a negative trend, further analysis shows that this has been driven by an increase in people who are inactive and do not want a job (for example, because they are in education or they are looking after family or home).

“The North East LEP will continue to work with its partners to deliver the Strategic Economic Plan’s ambition of more and better jobs.”



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Education Secretary Damian Hinds challenges employers and universities to seek out all the talent in the North East.

As the Education Secretary today, (8 October 2018), launches a £24 million programme to increase opportunity for communities in the North East of England, Andrew Hodgson, Chair, North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP),  said:

‘The North East LEP is committed to reducing the gap between our best and lowest performing secondary schools and to improving social mobility for our young people.

“While we have the second highest proportion of outstanding schools, we also have the second highest number of schools rated less than good after Yorkshire and the Humber. It’s this disparity that we are tackling by supporting teachers, governors, schools and leaders. Ensuring the next generation has a clear pathway to achieving their full potential is a fundamental part of our Strategic Economic Plan.

“I am delighted with today’s investment announcement and recognition by the government of our ambition to drive up student attainment levels.  This funding will allow us to accelerate and build on our existing activity in this area and make a real difference to the lives of each and every young person in the North East.”

Read the full details of the funding announcement.

To learn more about Education Challenge, the North East LEP’s goal to reduce the gap between our best and lowest performing schools and to reach a target of all schools achieving a ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ OFSTED rating, email: [email protected]



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Single Market access essential to protect North East economy after Brexit

The UK must ensure that it retains access to the Single Market, has an open trading regime and maintains a stable regulatory framework with the European Union to minimise the impact of Brexit on the North East economy. This is the key conclusion of ‘Leaving the European Union’, a report by a powerful regional economic group says today.

The North East Brexit Group was formed to provide a collective voice for the region in order to contribute to the ongoing national dialogue around the UK leaving the European Union. It includes networks representing businesses, education, trade unions, local authorities and voluntary organisations.

The group has compiled evidence from a wide range of government, academic and business sources to develop a clearer understanding of issues, challenges and opportunities which businesses and other economic partners believe need to be addressed to support the regional economy as the UK’s exit draws closer.

The ‘Leaving the European Union’ report looks at economic forecasts as well as specific issues of concern, and opportunities identified, for each of the key North East business sectors.

The common finding throughout the range of economic studies collated is that lower levels of economic activity are forecast in the region over different timescales as a result of the decision to leave the EU.

Drawing together the findings, a series of recommendations are made in the report to Government about measures to protect the North East economy, as it concludes negotiations and develops new national policy. They are:

  • Continued access to the European Single Market
  • An open trade and investment environment with frictionless and tariff free flow of goods across the EU/UK border to create a level playing field for competition and ensure the stability of established supply chains
  • Continued access to skilled individuals from the EU to tackle projected North East future skills shortages due to an ageing workforce and lack of skilled workers
  • New policies to replace EU funding streams to the North East and to ensure that financial regulation can boost growth and skills
  • A national Government communications campaign with clear and consistent advice and messages about Brexit, encouraging firms to prepare for legislative changes well in advance of leaving the EU.

In addition to the need to deliver a positive outcome to the discussion about the single market, trading regime and regulatory framework, another key finding is that more advice and support is needed for businesses to help them to prepare for the range of changes which could lie ahead.

Andrew Hodgson, North East LEP Chair, said: “This is a helpful report by the North East Brexit group, which identifies the economic opportunities and challenges of Brexit for the North East’s economy and businesses. The North East LEP will continue to deliver the ambitions of the Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) and adapt activities to maximise the economic opportunities, but also address the challenges, of Brexit in the North East.”

Jonathan Walker, head of policy and campaigns, North East England Chamber of Commerce said: “We communicate daily with our members on Brexit, hold regular consultations on trade policy and facilitate the shipment of millions of pounds’ worth of goods overseas every month.

“We do not believe Government should pursue a Brexit strategy that could cause any harm to our status as a strong exporting region and we’re delighted to contribute to any work which makes this point.”

Alistair Westwood, Deputy Regional Director at the CBI spokesperson said: “Businesses in the North East welcome the progress that’s been made so far, but this is no time to sit back and rest on our laurels. There is so much more to do.

“We leave the EU in less than one year and this must concentrate the minds of those on both sides. The global economy is growing, but the UK is already lagging behind.

“This means putting the big, unresolved issues under the microscope to find the right answers on Ireland, customs, regulation and access to people – for starters.

“Evidence is our best guide to good decisions about what comes next.”

Beth Farhat, TUC Northern Regional Secretary, said: “We welcome the report and are pleased to be able to work with others to highlight this evidence. 140,000 North East jobs depend on EU trade, and paid holidays, fairness for part-time workers and parental leave are guaranteed by the EU. The best way to keep the good jobs and rights at work that the single market provides is to be part of it.”

The report also identifies opportunities from Brexit. Businesses could build on sterling devaluation to boost exports, and there may be opportunities to secure more local supply chain activity given relatively cheaper capital costs.

The group’s report adds that some North East exporters, such as medicines manufacturers, have seen uplift in trade volume with businesses benefitting from the devaluation of sterling.

However, the overall balance of trade value has reversed to put the North East in a net importing position for the first time in many years.

Business confidence in digital and transport sectors has been affected with some decisions made to locate investment in Europe rather than in the North East.

Alongside manufacturing, a particular UK wide impact of Brexit is expected in places hosting knowledge intensive services. In the North East these are concentrated in Newcastle, Gateshead and North Tyneside.

Some businesses are planning ahead, in the absence of clarity and some are planning for a perceived worst case scenario of reverting to World Trade Organisation (WTO) trade arrangements. The majority of North East businesses have yet to start to plan as the implications of Brexit for them are not yet clear.

The full report can be read here


Notes to Editors:

The North East Brexit Group is an informal group of participants from the following organisations: CBI North East, North East Chamber of Commerce, North East Federation of Small Businesses, Entrepreneurs Forum, North East EEF, Northern TUC, North East Local Enterprise Partnership, North East Combined Authority, representatives from Northumbria, Sunderland, Newcastle and Durham universities and Voluntary Organisations Network North East (VONNE).



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Our Plan for Higher Education – Diverse, Employment-focused, Value for Money

New independent report points the way forward for Higher Education

We welcome the publication of the Edge Foundation’s Plan for Higher Education which sets out how greater diversity of provision, more employer engagement and a keen focus on value for money can ensure that HE helps to close the skills gap.

Here, Olly Newton, Director of Policy and Research at The Edge Foundation sets out his thoughts on Higher Education Diversification

New polling data commissioned by Edge for the report raises some significant questions about perceptions of value for money amongst graduates. The percentage who felt they received good value for money for their degree has fallen steadily from 93% of those who graduated before 1980 to just 58% amongst recent graduates. Meanwhile, the majority of graduates from the last five decades (52%) would choose not to go to university in the current funding regime.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. The report highlights some amazing programmes here and abroad that are helping to ensure excellent employment outcomes for students. This includes a diversification of provision to include accelerated, part-time and sandwich courses and a reinvigoration of L4 and L5 qualifications to give us the technicians we need to power industry in the North East. It also includes high quality careers services and employer engagement, which many of the universities in our region pride themselves on.

The report also points to two ambitious international models to provide inspiration for the future. DHBW in Stuttgart is a University entirely made up of degree apprentices studying whilst employed with leading firms and their supply chains. The Minerva Schools based in California is an international university with no campus that achieves excellent results at a fraction of the cost of traditional tuition through innovative online seminars.

We are blessed in the North East with fantastic Higher Education partners and we are keen to learn from the best models nationally and internationally to help them continue to be a powerhouse for skills and growth in the region.

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North East LEP ONS Regional Labour Market statistics reaction

North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Senior Economist Victoria Sutherland gives her reaction to today’s Regional Labour Market statistics.

“Today’s statistics are positive for the North East.

“Employment in the region has increased by 17,000 over the past quarter and by 28,000 over the year. And while unemployment levels have remained steady over the quarter, they have reduced over the year, with 7,000 fewer people unemployed than a year ago.

“Over the last quarter and year, the North East has seen the greatest improvement in the proportion of its population aged 16 to 64 that are in employment of all the regions and nations in the UK. The region has also seen the largest increase in its economic activity rate, suggesting that increasing employment opportunities in the North East are bringing more people into the labour market.

“These improvements also mean the gap is closing between the North East and elsewhere, a key objective of the North East Strategic Economic Plan.

“The increase of 28,000 more people in work reflects the hard work and ambition of businesses in the region.

“However, whilst the region has made significant progress, levels of unemployment in the North East are still among the highest of the UK regions.

“The North East Strategic Economic Plan sets out a range of actions that aim to deliver more and better jobs for the region and to support residents to access these. Given that we are entering a period of economic uncertainty, the North East LEP will continue to work with partners to help businesses scale and to create more and better jobs.”



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2017 Budget reaction

Andrew Hodgson, Chair of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), today gave his reaction to the Budget delivered by Chancellor Phillip Hammond.

“This is a Budget that recognises that we face a range of challenges but is focussed on preparing the economy for the future.

“The Chancellor has prioritised actions which can strengthen the UK’s competitiveness through innovation, skills and investment in housing and infrastructure.

“I fully support devolution to the North East and welcome today’s announcement by the Chancellor, with details that the three North of the Tyne local authorities have struck a devolution deal with Government.

“The business community in the North East wants devolution of finance and powers from central Government to the North East and would like these devolved funds to cover as much of the North East as possible. Decision-making by locally elected politicians for local people is important.

“However, the door must be left open for all of the other local authorities in the North East who may decide in the future that they would also like to be part of a devolution deal.

“Any deal for the North East region should have the delivery of the Strategic Economic Plan at its heart and be focused on boosting economic growth and creating more and better jobs in the North East.”
“We welcome the £337m investment in the Tyne and Wear Metro system. I personally wrote to the Chancellor ahead of the Budget to call for this funding.

“The strategic importance of the Tyne and Wear Metro to the local economy of the North East of England cannot be over-stated. It carries up to 40 million passengers each year, two thirds of whom are travelling for work or education and is a significant employer in its own right.

“The Transforming Cities Fund, which will invest £1.7bn into transport infrastructure and the commitments to develop the next generation of 5G technologies, were also positive. The North East can play a key role in testing and delivering 5G for the UK.

I also welcome the £20m to help further education colleges prepare for the new T levels.

“I was encouraged that the OBR has confirmed we can expect to see ongoing jobs growth across the UK. The North East Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) has set an ambition of generating more and better jobs for the North East and we hope today’s Budget will create opportunities to support that.

View a fuller budget overview from the North East LEP here.




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Region’s schools and colleges pledge their support for North East Ambition

More than 280 people representing schools, colleges and education institutions across the region joined the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) on Friday 14 July to pledge their commitment to improve careers education for each and every student in the North East.

The launch of North East Ambition saw more than 130 schools and colleges sign up to adopt, implement and achieve the Good Career Guidance benchmarks eight clearly defined benchmarks for high quality careers education that improve students’ transition from school to work by identifying routes to a successful working life.

Andrew Hodgson, Chair of the North East LEP said: “Following the success of the Good Career Guidance benchmarks pilot led by the North East LEP, it’s fantastic to see commitment from schools and colleges across the region that more young people will have access to life-changing careers education.

“The attendance at the event demonstrates the overwhelming commitment from those in education, business and other areas of industry to support North East Ambition and improve opportunities for our region’s young people. The North East LEP has worked hard to bring the sectors together in what is a unique collaboration that covers the entire region.

“Ensuring our future workforce is work ready is key to the economic success of our region. Improving skills is at the heart of our strategic economic plan and supporting schools and colleges to implement the Good Career Guidance benchmarks will help us achieve this.

“We’re well on our way to achieving our aim of 100,000 more and better jobs by 2024 and the launch of North East Ambition reinforces that ambition.”

David Baldwin Executive Headteacher at Churchill Community College and Norham High School said:

“We, as educators, all have a responsibility to ensure that we can help children become an effective part of society. The Benchmarks provide an effective framework for careers education, information, advice and guidance that allows us to do this.

“Leadership is crucial to making the Benchmarks work – I’d urge schools and colleges to ensure careers is represented on their senior leadership team and that there is resource in place, internally and through partnerships, to deliver the guidance.

“This isn’t about money, it’s about appropriate allocation of resource to help young people be ambitious, and achieve those ambitions. I’m delighted to see the Benchmarks being celebrated and look forward to them being adopted by more schools and colleges.”

North East Ambition builds on the success of the Good Career Guidance benchmarks pilot in the North East LEP region, which involved 16 schools and colleges. Recognised nationally as ‘transformational’, the pilot has gained significant national traction.

The 16 schools and colleges involved in the pilot attended the event, as did schools and business leaders enrolled in the North East LEP’s Enterprise Adviser network, which sees business people from some of the North East’s most successful industries work strategically with senior leaders in secondary schools to shape the quality of careers provision.

Michelle Rainbow, Skills Director at the North East LEP said: “We’ve seen what a positive impact the benchmarks can have on both schools and students.

“North East Ambition is about ensuring all young people, regardless of their starting points or backgrounds, have access to high quality careers advice that improves opportunities for them in their working lives.

“The initiative brings education, business and other stakeholders together to deliver effective and innovative careers education fit for the 21st Century.”

Schools and colleges attending the launch will be invited to a second event later in the year demonstrating how to put the Good Career Guidance benchmarks into practice. A North East Ambition toolkit is also available via the North East LEP website, www.nelep.co.uk

For more information about North East Ambition, visit www.nelep.co.uk/improving-skills(

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Welcoming the Northern Powerhouse Minister to the region

Andrew Hodgson, Chair of the LEP Board, welcomed the Northern Powerhouse Minister to the North East in his recent column for the Journal newspaper.

It was good to welcome Jake Berry, the new Northern Powerhouse Minister, to the North East this week.


Taking the time to meet with regional business leaders just days into his new role and learn about our world class subsea sector on a visit to North Tyneside, confirmed his commitment to the Northern Powerhouse programme.


As they say, actions speak louder than words and blocking out his diary to press the flesh in the North East and Cumbria resonated with businesses.


The minister was clear in his meeting with the North East LEP and its partners at The Sage that on his appointment, the Prime Minister Theresa May tasked him with reinvigorating the Northern Powerhouse.


He said she reaffirmed the Government’s support for the Northern Powerhouse which is viewed in Westminster as the key economic policy tool to rebalance the North-South divide.


Liverpool-born and a North West constituency MP, it was clear that the minister gets the North and has its best interests at heart.


His commitment is to help narrow the productivity gap which has blighted the North and stopped it contributing its full economic worth to the national economy.


No small task. But a cause with which he will find many allies across our region.


We took the time to emphasise to him the central role the North East plays in this economic rebalancing.


Our refreshed Strategic Economic Plan underpins all the economic activity in the region to help it reach its target of 100,000 new jobs in the decade to 2024.


The minister was encouraged to learn that we are ahead of schedule, creating 58,500 new jobs to date – with 60% of these posts in the ‘better jobs’ category of technical, managerial and professional roles.


A visit to Newcastle University’s new National Centre for Subsea and Offshore Engineering in Wallsend emphasised to the minister in the clearest possible way the region’s commitment to driving new economic growth through focussing on key   business sectors.


The LEP told the minister of the importance of subsea, offshore and energy technologies,   advanced manufacturing and engineering especially in automotive and medicines, life sciences, digital and financial, professional and business services to North East economic growth.


These areas of world class excellence are helping generate the wealth, new and skilled jobs and productivity fuelling record levels of employment and cutting the numbers of people out of work.


The fundamental role the North East has to play in the success of the economic rebalancing of the North of England economy was recognised in the recent Northern Powerhouse Independent Economic Review.


The evidence confirmed the importance of the North East and its growing economy in driving overall growth in the North of England.


Far from being on the periphery, our region is front and centre to the progress of the Northern Powerhouse.




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In conversation with Anne Casey, Regional Adviser at Academy Ambassadors

Thanks to Anne Casey, Regional Adviser, Academy Ambassadors for providing this blog about being part of a school leadership team:

Providing strong leadership is important for any organisation. It ensures stability, growth and a strategic plan for the future.

Schools demand the same, which is why we’re on a recruitment drive in the North East for non-executive directors to support the increasing number of Academy Schools opening in the region.

Academy Ambassadors is a non-profit organisation set up to bring inspirational educationalists together with talented business leaders to build better multi-academy trust boards.

We’re delighted to be working in partnership with the North East LEP to offer business leaders in the region the opportunity to support all established and future Academies.

We want to address the gap between the performance of schools in the North and South and we believe the business community can help us address that by providing strong leadership in our Academy Trusts, with business acumen, experience and strategic vision applied directly to academy boards through pro bono trustee roles.

We recruit from a range of different industries and disciplines including the corporate sector, HR, IT, marketing & PR and the financial services. It’s this range of skills that supports the work of CEOs and executive principals in Academies to provide the highest standard of education to our young people.

Academy Ambassadors has to date recruited more than 500 business leaders to non-executive directorship or trustee roles; around 134 of those are in the North of the country. Non-executive directors can sit on a trust board of a Multi Academy Trust (MAT) which can have anywhere from two to 65 or more academies, with budgets ranging from £10m for a small trust to £100m + for the largest. With the potential for such scale – and associated accountability – the need for experienced business leaders is evident.

Some of the North East businesses already working with Academy Ambassadors include BT, Lloyds Banking Group and PwC, however we are also working with SMEs across the region.

We’re committed to recruiting the right kind of people, which is why we look to the business community who can provide the right kind of strategic skills modern Academies demand. We need Boards with diverse skills, an aptitude for governance and an understanding of the local and regional context. Boards should be diverse and reflect their local communities, which is again something the business community can support.

Experience of working in education is not a pre-requisite to become an Academy Ambassadors-placed non-executive director. The ability to think strategically, hold people to account and deploy resources efficiently to make a real difference to young people’s futures are just some of the skills we’re looking for in non-executive directors or trustees.

Academies are experiencing a period of rapid growth, from 200 to 5,000 in just five years. They demand real business acumen and a range of skills that business leaders in the North East have in spades.

If you’d like to know more about the opportunities available at Academy Ambassadors, please visit our website – www.academyambassadors.org – or contact me direct via the email address [email protected]

Academy Ambassadors works closely with Inspiring Governance to share knowledge and help build relationships. Like Academy Ambassadors, Inspiring Governance is a free, national matchmaking service specialising in connecting volunteers with schools looking for governors and trustees, though its focus is on the Local Governing Body (LGB) level, providing school governors as well as trustees. More information is available at inspiringgovernance.org