From education to employment

Regional economic strategy to be launched in County Durham today

60,000 jobs and 18,000 businesses must be created in the North East by 2016 if the region is to increase economic productivity to 90% of the national average.

Furthermore, long-term unemployment must also be tackled in order to increase the region’s economic output.

Chief Executive of One NorthEast, Alan Clarke, will today outline ambitious plans to propel the region into the next decade, as he launches the new Regional Economic Strategy (RES).

“The region has made substantial progress over the past ten years in increasing the number of jobs and new businesses, but there is still a long way to go as we trail many other UK regions in economic productivity”, Mr Clarke said.

The new strategy will see One NorthEast, the Regional Development Agency (RDA) covering areas such as Tyne and Wear and Tees Valley, raise public and private investment in higher-level skills. A summary document released earlier this week states: “The region’s intermediate [equivalent to two “A” levels] and higher level skills are lower than the rest of the UK and our major competitors”.

The new strategy “seeks to raise the contribution of people to the regional economy by supporting the extension of work-based learning opportunities and skills, developing a 14-19 forum with regional schools and working with partners to remove barriers to employment”.

“Information, advice and guidance at all ages will reflect economic opportunities and support vocational and academic progression routes to give young people more choice in developing skills”, the summary document states.

One NorthEast Chairman Margaret Fay explains: “By 2016, we envisage an economic powerhouse located in Tyne and Wear and Tees Valley, complemented by a thriving rural economy and supported by an improved transport and ICT infrastructure”.

And in a nod to the diversity agenda, the document proclaims: “We”ll embed tolerance, diversity and equality at the heart of the North East, helping “diversity groups” to work with employers and public sector organisations for inclusive economic growth”.

“In addition, we”ll attract potential migrants to north east England, encouraging them to take up entrepreneurship and employment, and underpin thorough research into the benefits of equality and diversity and good practice in their promotion”.

Mr Clarke continued: “The new RES is ambitious but at the same time realistic – as it has to be if the North East is to raise its game and compete with the best performing regions of the UK”.

“The RES sets out a vision that we believe is both exciting and achievable and I call upon all of our public, private, voluntary and community sector partners to help put its aims into practice”.

Vijay Pattni.

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