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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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Nexus seeks suppliers for Metro Futures project

Nexus is currently seeking to procure three contracts worth around £500m as part of the Nexus Fleet Replacement Programme on the Tyne and Wear Metro.

They are holding an event on Monday 8 October at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland. This event will give businesses the opportunity to meet bidders, listen to briefings from the Nexus team and potentially have an opportunity to pitch to the potential suppliers. The different contract opportunities, which are in construction, manufacture and maintenance, are described in detail below.

1. Manufacture and supply of a fleet of 42 new trains with opportunities for suppliers in the following areas:

  • Design, supply and assembly of systems, sub-systems, components and system software / firmware
  • Vehicle body design, manufacture, fabrication and assembly
  • Testing and commissioning services for vehicle systems
  • Transportation of new and existing fleet


2. Maintenance of the outgoing and the new fleet with opportunities for suppliers in the following areas:

  • Supply of systems, subsystems, components and consumables associated with the maintenance of existing and new fleet
  • Supply of plant, equipment and tools to serve fleet maintenance requirements
  • Disposal of current fleet


3. Construction of a new maintenance facility for the new fleet, with opportunities for suppliers in the following areas:

  • Demolition of an existing depot building
  • Decommissioning and removal of railway assets
  • Design, construction, testing and commissioning of new railway assets
  • Design and construction of a new depot building
  • Provision of plant and equipment to serve fleet maintenance activities
  • Provision of building maintenance services
  • The move brings huge opportunities for businesses to be part of a new supply chain working with the bidders

Register for the Nexus event here.

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In conversation with Andrew Hodgson: Brexit and the uncertainty of its impact.

Brexit and the uncertainty of its impact remains the dominant issue for regional business, with talks between the UK government and EU leaders about to enter their most crucial phase.

Brexit will bring disruption, but any disruption creates opportunities for new winners as well as risks to established businesses.

The North East LEP is determined to help companies capture the new opportunities as well as protect themselves from the inevitable changes they will face.

It is launching a comprehensive package of support to help businesses be as prepared as best they can for Brexit through access to expertise, resources and initiatives.

Worryingly, we know many companies are not readying themselves for Britain leaving the EU.

This represents a risk not just to their viability but to the North East economy as a whole.

The North East LEP is taking action now to help firms prepare, working with partners expert in guiding companies through the process of change.

Later this month we are launching ‘Supply Chain North East’. Its aims are simple – to help build more resilience into regional supply chains and the regional economy as a whole.

Businesses will be linked to sector experts able to help them better prepare for life outside the European Union.

The North East LEP has appointed two Growth Hub Connectors to go into firms, get under their skin and assess their Brexit readiness.

Ken Arnold and Karl McCracken both have experience of running companies and will use their professional knowledge to connect firms to the sector experts best placed to help.

RTC North, the North East Automotive Alliance, NEPIC and Generator are delivering the programme, offering a wealth of industry experience and a proven track record of transforming business growth and productivity.

This could be by diversifying income through different revenue opportunities domestically and internationally or by generating greater productivity through digitisation.

Resilience is key, and ‘Supply Chain North East’ has the knowledge and expertise to get companies ready and able to make the most of the change Brexit will bring.

Quite often supply chain companies are reliant on few customers for the vast majority of their work which doesn’t make good business sense.

Our team will be working with firms to examine their core competencies and look at ways to build greater resilience into their business – which could be as simple as continuing to do what they are doing but with new customers.

Sectors such as rail, the nuclear industry and offshore wind present new and exciting opportunities for businesses looking to diversify into different markets.Complementing ‘Supply Chain North East’ will be a new Brexit Preparation Fund being finalised now with NBSL, via their North East Business Support Fund, which will support companies to buy in professional expertise to look at exposure to risk and build greater resilience.

We are also unveiling a Brexit Tool Kit through the North East Growth Hub – the region’s online business support platform – bringing together in one place all the available business advice and support to prepare firms for leaving the EU.

The North East Growth Hub www.northeastgrowthhub.co.uk will be the access point for all the LEP’s latest package of Brexit support.














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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.

“We are pleased that today’s release shows that the numbers of people in the North East that are unemployed has fallen, with 17,000 fewer unemployed than a year ago,” she said.

“We are disappointed to see that the numbers employed in the North East region has also fallen. Until additional data comes through, it will be unclear whether this is a temporary fluctuation.

“With both unemployment and employment falling, we’ve seen growth in the number of people that are not actively participating in the labour market – a group known as the economically inactive.

“The most recent data on the economically inactive suggest there has been particularly strong growth over the last year in the number of people that are inactive because they are studying, which we would consider a positive trend.

“We will continue to monitor conditions in the labour market closely.

“The ambition of the North East Strategic Economic Plan is to deliver ‘more and better jobs’ for the region, creating opportunities for those living and working in the region. We will continue to work with our partners to deliver this ambition.”



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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.

“We are pleased to see the continued growth of employment in the North East region,” she said. “Today’s statistics show that the number of people in work has increased by 13,000 over the last quarter.

“Over this period, we have seen a particularly strong improvement in the employment rate for 16 to 64 year olds, with this having increased at more than four times the rate of England as a whole and the North East having the second highest increase in the country.

“We have also seen a decline in the number of people out of work, with 8,000 fewer people unemployed than in the last quarter.   This means the unemployment rate has decreased from 5.2% to 4.6%. This is the largest decrease of any region in the UK over this period.

“Both of these trends are a continuation of the good news we’ve had on the labour market over the last year.

“We will continue to work with our partners to build on this progress and deliver the North East Strategic Economic Plan’s ambition of ‘more and better jobs’ for the region.

“At a national level, the focus of discussion about today’s data has primarily been on wage levels. The data released does not provide a regional breakdown of wage growth. Improving the productivity of the North East’s businesses will help them deliver wage increases and the SEP’s programmes of activities on business growth, innovation, skills and infrastructure all contribute to strengthening regional productivity.”






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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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In conversation with Helen Golightly…. Programme leads sought to drive forward our digital and energy programmes

Opportunities with the North East LEP – Digital and Energy Programme Leads

The North East’s growing digital and energy sectors are two of the areas where we have huge potential to increase economic growth in the region. We have internationally recognised capabilities in these areas, leading research within our universities, and established clusters of ambitious, forward-thinking businesses.

Our digital and energy communities are a vital part of the region’s Strategic Economic Plan and now we’re looking for two individuals to join the team here at the North East LEP to take the lead in driving forward our digital and energy programmes – an Energy Programme Lead (2 year contract) and a Digital Programme Lead (3 year contract).

Our Programme Leads work closely with the business community, strengthening the profile of the North East nationally and internationally and working to secure investment and address opportunities and challenges in areas including innovation and skills.

These are innovative and exciting areas to work in and these two roles offer the opportunity to play a central part in driving growth and employment in these sectors.

We’re looking for people who have in depth knowledge of the sectors – not only the position now but their future direction – and the ability to work with representatives from industry, with business networks and research and education organisations of national and international standing.

It’s an opportunity to make a real difference to the future of the North East and to be a part of the small but brilliant team we have here at the North East LEP.

If you think you could be the person we’re looking for, we’d love to hear from you.

Find out more.

Helen Golightly, Executive Director, North East LEP

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Nashville success underpins North East Education Challenge

A second North East delegation is visiting schools in Nashville, Tennessee, this week to further learn how a pioneering approach to education in the US is transforming student attainment through industry links.

The Ford Next Generation Learning programme embeds industry knowledge into school curriculum across Nashville and other US cities, equipping students with the skills that modern industry demands.

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is leading the delegation to Nashville.

With partners, the LEP will deliver a UK pilot, initially in three North East schools – Excelsior Academy, Newcastle, Norham High and Churchill Community College, both North Tyneside – based on the best elements of the US model.

The North East pilot is in its development stage, ready to be implemented in schools in September. The Education Challenge will embed industry-led projects into lessons and equip young people with the skills employers look for. Its aim is to reduce the gap between the best and lowest performing secondary schools and improve social mobility.

The pilot will be rolled out to further schools and FE in early 2019 with a view to creating a scaleable and replicable model.

Education and industry representatives from Ford Next Generation Learning, USA visited the North East last year to share good practice and reciprocally how schools in our region are already at the forefront of Good Career Guidance, part of the North East’s Strategic Economic Plan

Neil Willis, Project Manager, Education Challenge at the North East LEP, said: “Ford Next Generation Learning informed our innovative approach in the North East

“We are working with regional, national and international partners, building effective relationships between employers and teachers, particularly developing teacher continuous professional development – with teachers spending time in industry co-designing provision.”

In Nashville when employers were effectively engaged within education,, those schools went from being some of the lowest performing schools in the US to some of the highest in terms of attainment and attendance.

Excelsior Academy is one of the first three North East schools working closely with the LEP to introduce the Education Challenge into its classrooms.

Craig Taylor, Excelsior Academy Executive Principal, said: “This could be a significant, potentially transformative project for Excelsior Academy.

“If we are going to continue trying to impact positively on our pupils’ lives, we need to look at what we offer and how we present it to them.”

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North East LEP to publish first, annual ‘Our Economy’ report

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP) will unveil its first annual ‘Our Economy’ report at Sage Gateshead on Tuesday 6 March 2018.

Presenting an overview of the North East economy and how it is changing over time, the new report will become an important resource for government, policymakers and businesses operating in the region.

Andrew Hodgson, Chair of the North East LEP said: “It’s important we track our progress and monitor our economic performance so we position the North East to take advantage of future developments, including those arising from the Government’s recently published Industrial Strategy.

“Our annual review of the North East economy will ensure we remain on track to deliver the refreshed Strategic Economic Plan and reach our aim of creating 100,000 more and better jobs by 2024.”

As well as providing a comprehensive look at the regional economy, ‘Our Economy’ will also look, in-depth, at a topical issue affecting the North East. In 2018 that topic will be ‘the North East in the global economy’.

Victoria Sutherland, Senior Economist at the North East LEP said: “We’re bringing an expert panel of speakers together from business, education and government to discuss the importance of international relations and what the North East needs to do to build stronger international links going forward.

“Our keynote speaker will be a North East business already trading internationally, and they will share how other regional businesses can follow in their footsteps.”

Our Economy 2018 – with insights into global connections, takes place at Sage Gateshead on Tuesday 6 March from 08:30-11:00. Places are free but must be booked in advance using the Eventbrite form