Making Birmingham THE skills city

Councillor Brett O’Reilly, cabinet member for jobs and skills, talks about how we can all Step Forward to improve skills in the city.       Brett OReilly waist up 1                              

Skills levels in the Birmingham city region will have a major impact on future economic growth and we are facing a significant challenge to increase skills levels of those both in and out of work, not just to provide economic growth, but to pursue inclusive growth, that reaches out all citizens in all parts of our city, and ensuring that nobody is left behind.

The figures are stark and make uncomfortable reading. Nine per cent of Birmingham residents have no qualifications, compared to a core city average of five per cent. Just 57 per cent of Birmingham residents are qualified to level 3+ (A and AS level and equivilent) compared to 62 per cent for core cities.

So in order to mirror the core cities average we will need to ensure 11,000 of our working residents gain qualifications; get over 21,000 more employed residents qualified at level 3+; and nearly 14,000 more employed residents qualified at level 4+ (from HNC and equivalent).

But behind these statistics lies the story of what we are already doing as a city to improve things – and I deliberately say ‘city’ rather than ‘city council’, as we can only do this together. Other than in schools and adult education, the local authority is not a direct provider, so we need everyone who delivers or invests in skills and training to invest in a shared city-wide vision.

Despite significant cuts, there is still a significant amount of money spent on skills in the city but it needs to be spent intelligently. Our Skills Investment Plan sets out a vision and aspiration, looking to create 70,000 new jobs by 2020, having an employment rate of 67 per cent and a reduction of 15,000 people claiming welfare benefits.

There are a number of initiatives that will drive this forward, including the Birmingham Jobs Fund and the Youth Promise Plus, and today I have been at a careers event talking about Step Forward, which is an initiative that will promote the benefits of skills development for our workforce, both economically and socially.

Working in partnership with the public, private and third sectors, as well as the LEP, we will be campaigning directly with employers to encourage the upskilling of the workforce, co-ordinating support and guidance available so people can choose the right qualifications for the career paths they want to take; whether it is future proofing with transferable skills, or training for the emerging industries of the future, we are calling on everyone to Step Forward and make Birmingham THE skills city.

Major Chinese deal to boost Birmingham economy

Country Garden signing

Council leader Cllr John Clancy declared ‘Birmingham is open for business’ after signing an agreement with Chinese property development company Country Garden worth up to £2 billion to the Birmingham economy.

Cllr Clancy is on a week-long trade mission to China and Hong Kong, where he is looking for big-money investors to build houses and create jobs across the city.

And the city council leader has today signed a Joint Statement of Investment Commitment with Country Garden that will initially see the Guangdong-based company:

  • Explore large scale investment opportunities in Birmingham city region area with particular focus on regeneration and investment options related to the HS2 project.
  • Work jointly to find areas of collaboration with regard to delivering significant new housing stock in Birmingham city and the surrounding area.

With Prime Minister Theresa May also visiting China this week for the G20 summit, the spotlight has fallen on the big potential for Chinese investment in major UK projects.

And Cllr Clancy said: “The landscape has inevitably changed post-Brexit and Birmingham is already out of the starting blocks. That’s why I’m here selling our city to many of China’s leading investors.

“This agreement is about bringing good jobs and quality homes to Birmingham. Country Garden have a proven track record of building homes at pace and scale. They have played a major role over the last 20 years, as housebuilders have met the massive demands of China’s rapidly expanding economy.

“Bringing this level of investment and experience to Birmingham would be a massive economic boost to the region’s businesses, skills base and families. It’s about bringing new, big capital spend to the city, quickly. This is about building houses, jobs and futures for young Brummies and families across the region.

“Country Garden understand the demands in Birmingham and are clearly excited at the prospect of investing in our young, growing city.”

Country Garden founder and chairman Mr Yang Guoqiang said: “I have been impressed with Birmingham’s ambition and huge potential and I am delighted to announce this investment commitment to support significant housing and infrastructure development in the city.

“We have a proven track record in delivering quality housing at a scale to match Birmingham’s ambitions and with major projects coming to the city, including the forthcoming High Speed two project, these are exciting times for Country Garden and Birmingham.”

The announcement has been welcomed by Paul Faulkner, chief executive of the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, who said: “Post-Brexit it’s more important than ever that our city works with global capital markets to bring in new money from large institutional investors. Bringing in £2 billion for housing and other projects will have a much larger economic impact across the region for Birmingham companies and construction supply chain. Importantly it cements a relationship with the all-important China market.”


About Country Garden

Founded in 1992, Country Garden Holdings Company (CG) Limited has been listed on the main Board of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange since April 2007 (stock code: 2007.HK).

CG are considered to be one of the leading real estate developers in East Asia with a focus on residential development and location making and they employ 70,000 people.

They were ranked the 5th largest property developer in China by sales revenue in 2015 and they quote a market capitalisation of £14.5 billion GBP as of 2015.

The company has developed over 300 high-end township developments, 54 five-star hotels (across China, Malaysia and Australia) and, to date, they’ve built and sold over 2.5 million properties.

Greater Birmingham facts

  • Over 90% of the UK market is within a four hour travel time of the region.
  • Europe’s largest infrastructural project, the £17 billion High Speed Rail 2 (HS2) project, will bring Birmingham within 38 minutes of the capital.
  • Birmingham New Street station is the busiest outside London, and the busiest interchange station in the UK, with a train leaving every 37 seconds.
  • The new M54 business hub motorway junction now directly serves the Black Country’s i54 enterprise zone.
  • Birmingham Airport serves 10 million people a year travelling with 50 airlines to 140 direct destinations.
  • Birmingham has the highest quality of life of any English city outside of London (Mercer 2016) .
  • 90 million visitors were attracted to Greater Birmingham in 2015.
  • In 2014/15, 86 foreign direct investment (fdi) projects were attracted to Greater Birmingham.
  • Exports from the wider West Midlands region are the third highest in the country.
  • Birmingham is number one in the uk for real estate investment prospects, and sixth in Europe (Urban Land Institute/PWC).
  • Major employers investing in the region include HSBC, Jaguar Land Rover, MG Motors, Changan, Genting UK, Hydraforce, Extraenergy and Deutsche Bank.
  • The region is capitalising on HS2. The Midlands HS2 growth strategy will deliver £14 billion GVA.
  • Solihull was voted as having the highest quality of life in England (uSwitch quality of life index, 2015).
  • Birmingham is the most popular conference and event destination in the UK outside London (BMEIS 2015/2016) .
  • Birmingham is the most popular destination for Londoners relocating from the capital (ONS 2014) .
  • Average house price of £121,672 compared to London’s £503,431 (Land Registry of England & Wales, 2015) .
  • There are six world-class universities in Greater Birmingham, producing 32,000 graduates every year.
  • Birmingham is the youngest major city in Europe, with under 25’s accounting for nearly 40% of its population.

Cllr John Clancy meets Dr Tony Xia

With the new football season now under way, council leader Cllr John Clancy had a meeting with Dr Tony Xia, who recently took ownership of Aston Villa.

Dr Xia enjoyed a tour of the Council House, followed by talks on investment in the city as well as his plans for the future of the club which is looking to bounce back to the Premier League after relegation last season.