From education to employment

New West of England Mayor must champion sustainable and inclusive recovery, says CBI

Covid crisis

Dynamism and green focus can create regional economy ‘to rival London’ (@CBItweets)

The incoming mayor for the West of England must show vision and ambition to spearhead the region’s Covid recovery and build sustainable, long-term prosperity which can match London’s economic strength, according to the CBI.

The nation’s leading business group has today launched its West of England Revival Plan, a blueprint for the region’s future which urges the winner of May 6’s ballot to champion the South West’s unique strengths in rebuilding.

Job creation, inclusivity and productivity growth are named by the CBI as being among the new mayor’s key priorities for a region hard-hit by the pandemic. Some 30% of the South West’s workforce has been furloughed, and more than 23,000 jobs lost, with strength sectors like aerospace, retail and hospitality heavily impacted.

However, a region rich in green industries, which boasts a strong skills base, high start-up rates and four prestigious universities fuelling research and innovation, is well-placed to bounce back.

Susan Davy, Chair of CBI South West, said:

“The next mayor of the West of England will be pivotal in helping this region recover from the pandemic. This plan from the CBI shows how business could work with the mayor to create high-skilled jobs, boost skills, and deliver long-term prosperity.”

Deborah Fraser, CBI South West Director, said:

“The new West of England mayor must set out a long-term economic vision for the combined authority focusing on regional dynamism, building infrastructure, and stimulating job creation. 

“Success requires prioritising hard-hit sectors such as aerospace and advanced manufacturing, in addition to those sectors that can deliver future growth and support a low carbon future. 

“New digital and physical infrastructure must be predicated upon creating more inclusive communities, employment opportunities and progression for all. Simultaneously, the mayor must champion jobs and re-skilling of the workforce so that it is responsive to changing patterns of employment.

“To realise this vision the mayor should work strategically with business, neighbouring authorities, and all parts of government to build a sustainable recovery and long-term prosperity.” 

The CBI’s manifesto has identified three key principles and a series of recommendations which outline how businesses and the newly-elected mayor can work in tandem to drive recovery and build long-term success. 

1) Champion regional dynamism and global competitiveness to raise living standards. 

  • Promote the region on a global stage, to attract and grow world-class businesses through a strong economic vision and a pro-business authority. 
  • Reinforce the region’s status as a global centre of innovation, particularly for strength and high-growth sectors such as advanced engineering and manufacturing, creative industries, and professional and financial services.
  • Take action to attract inward investment, improve regional and international connectivity, and champion the region as a tourist destination.

2) Transform digital and physical infrastructure on the race to net zero.

  • Ensure the region plays its part in meeting carbon reduction ambitions by utilising rich natural resources in evolving towns and cities. 
  • Lead a region which stands at the forefront of green technologies to become a national exemplar in the journey to net zero.
  • Drive job creation and housing improvement strategies, while championing investment in both physical and digital infrastructure in all parts of the region.

3) Stimulate job creation and secure an inclusive future workforce. 

  • Use the devolved adult education budget to aid the re-training and re-skilling agenda to target skills gaps and feed green industries.
  • Champion education and inclusivity to boost social mobility and ensure opportunity for younger generations and minority groups.
  • Engage with business and education providers to deliver a workforce for the future which leaves no communities behind.

Together, the CBI believes these actions can address inequalities and equip the South West with the infrastructure, talent and investment needed to thrive through post-pandemic recovery and beyond.

Related Articles