Agenda item

Staffordshire Means Back to Business

Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economy and Skills



Decision – That the oral report of the Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economy and Skills giving an update on “Staffordshire Means Back to Business” activity including the following matters be noted:? 


·       This month saw an increase of 430 claimants in Staffordshire, whilst at the same time we have seen increases both regionally and nationally. This reflects the challenging economic conditions businesses continue to operate in across the country The total number of claimants in the county now stands at 16,130 and the claimant rate has increased this month from 2.9% to 3.0% of the working age population However, it is important to note that the claimant count rate in Staffordshire continues to be one of the lowest in the West Midlands, far lower than the average for the region of 5.1%, and lower than the average for England of 4.0%.  


·       The youth claimant count in Staffordshire saw an increase of 100 claimants this month to a total of 3,100 young people. Increases were also seen regionally and nationally The proportion of young people in Staffordshire aged 18-24 that are claiming work-related Universal Credit has increased this month from 4.8% to 5.0% Staffordshire continues to be lower than the national rate of 5.3% and far lower than the regional rate of 7.2%.  


·       Supporting the creation of new, high-quality employment opportunities is the central aim of our Economic Strategy and the growth of the logistics industry has been one of our successes in recent years Since 2015, 7,000 new logistics jobs have been created within Staffordshire and our location at the centre of the country will mean that we will continue to be attractive to the industry Our aim has always been to ensure that we are supporting the creation of the type of jobs that we want within Staffordshire, and it is therefore really encouraging to see that recent logistics developments are increasingly creating jobs that require high-level skills, such as artificial intelligence and robotics expertise.   


·       Over the coming years, the West Midlands Interchange scheme in South Staffordshire will bring 8,500 new jobs to the county and we are proactively engaged with partners on the scheme’s delivery Our Jobs and Careers service is working with Winvic, the lead constructor for phase 1 of the site, to showcase the development and promote different careers and pathways into the construction industry with our residents As a rail-served logistics site, the West Midlands Interchange scheme will be a key part of the countries logistics network and it is estimated that once fully operational it will reduce HGV travel on the national road network by around 50 million km each year, making a significant contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 


·       Recently GRIDSERVE Electric Forecourt have been granted planning approval to develop an electric vehicle charging station at our flagship i54 South Staffordshire business park, with only one plot now remaining on the western extension of the site This will serve existing and future occupiers of the site, the wider area and users of the local road network and is the type of development that will be needed as we continue to move towards the greater use of electric vehicles.   


·       Burton and South Derbyshire College has recently opened its upgraded and revitalised facilities in Burton upon Trent’s town centre This has seen the creation of a range of innovative facilities including a Cyber Security Lab, Games Development Studio and Health Simulation Suite These facilities will be vital if we are to prepare students for evolving demands of employers, with such developments also being important in the regeneration of our town centres. 


·       Alongside working with our local skills providers, the County Council also continues to support the development of the skills of our residents through our Community Learning Service which provides services for around 2,500 adult learners across Staffordshire every year, helping residents to upskill, access further learning and ultimately secure good quality jobs The quality of the service has recently been recognised by achieving the international Matrix Standard, with the service being praised for helping people to understand their options, achieve their next steps and move towards further learning and employment.