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Major conference focuses on jobs, skills and economic growth

Lord Adonis returns to the region to chart the North East’s progress.

The region’s progress towards achieving the recommendations of Lord Adonis’s Independent Economic Review and the next steps in accelerating growth and job creation are coming under the spotlight in a major one-day event on Friday, 6 September.

The Driving Forward Economic Growth Conference, organised by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), will examine how far the region has come since Lord Adonis’s Review was published in April.

The next steps, including creation of more and better jobs to drive the region’s role in the global economy, the North East’s Strategic Economic Plan and the 2014-2021 European Funding Strategy, will be at the heart of the discussions.

The conference, at the Centre for Life in Newcastle on September 6, will include keynote speeches, panel discussions and workshop sessions exploring issues highlighted in the Review from job creation to accessing finance and the region’s infrastructure.

Lord Adonis is returning to the North East to speak at the event and give an external view of the region’s progress towards his recommendations.

Keynote speakers include Chair of the Humber LEP Lord Christopher Haskins, who will discuss developing strategic relationships, and Gateshead Council leader and chair of the North East leadership board, Councillor Mick Henry. The panel discussions will focus on the region’s challenges and opportunities for economic growth.

Paul Woolston, chair of the North East LEP, said:
“We are delighted to welcome Lord Adonis and members of his review team back to the region to chart our progress on meeting the Review’s recommendations.

“The Driving Forward Economic Growth Conference will also give key stakeholders the opportunity to discuss the next steps towards achieving those aims and examine in detail how we can move forward, creating more jobs and prosperity for the region.

“Our response, centring on the North East Strategic Economic Plan and European Strategy, shows the significant impact the review has already achieved.”

Councillor Mick Henry, Chair of the North East Leadership Board, said:
“We are already making real progress in implementing the recommendations from Lord Adonis.

“The Adonis Review has had a catalytic effect in the region, accelerating productive collaboration between universities, private and voluntary sectors and local authorities, on a shared agenda for economic growth.
“The Review strongly supports the establishment of a Combined Authority across the North East LEP area and we expect this to be operational by April next year. This will place the North East at the vanguard of new arrangements, to enable more devolution for local decision-making.”

Since Lord Adonis’ Review was published, the North East LEP has made a number of notable strides towards its recommendations. In July, it was awarded £7.5m in European funding from the fourth round of the Regional Growth Fund to boost the resources available to support small and medium sized companies; a North East Combined Authority is being formed; Professor Roy Sandbach was appointed to head the LEP’s innovation strategy, and the LEP was one of just three in the UK chosen by the Government to pilot innovative new approaches to skills development funding.

Professor Roy Sandbach, the David Goldman visiting Professor of Innovation & Enterprise at Newcastle University Business School, has three decades’ experience of commercial innovation with Procter and Gamble under his belt. He will be part of the conference’s panel discussion on the role of partners in delivering economic growth.
He said: “Partnerships are central to my remit to drive recognition of the North East LEP area as an international centre for innovation growth. I will be looking at the challenges of building and mapping the region’s future innovation networks internationally and ensuring our businesses and universities engage with the big global players.”

Conference delegates have a choice of different workshop sessions in the afternoon tackling the practical issues of finding finance for growth, developing a skilled economy with more and better jobs, the region’s transport, housing and infrastructure, and creating productive and innovative businesses.

North East LEP board member Andrew Hodgson, who is responsible for skills development alongside Sunderland College’s Anne Isherwood, will lead the session on developing a skilled economy.

He said: “Lord Adonis’s Review focused on the necessity of matching the region’s skills with the demands of the labour market and tackling the shortfall. Since the recommendations were published, the Business Secretary Vince Cable has chosen the region to develop a new skills model, which gives the North East LEP more influence on how skills funding is targeted.

“We are working with the North East Leadership Board of seven councils and the Skills Funding Agency to develop this skills model, with input from employers, colleges and training providers.”

Northern MPs will discuss the North East Independent Economic Review in a parliamentary debate on September 5, the day before the Driving Forward Economic Growth Conference takes place. Attendance at the conference is by invitation only and there is now a waiting list for cancellation of tickets.

Further information from Christine Holland, Holland PR & Marketing Ltd. Tel 01670 790246 or 07711 698246.