The official formation of the West Midlands Combined Authority has been welcomed by three of the region’s universities.
Birmingham City University, Coventry University and the University of Wolverhampton joined forces in May to launch the West Midlands Combined Universities (WMCU) initiative to meet the demands of devolution.
The partnership brings together the institutions’ applied research and training expertise to develop skills and foster innovation across the region and it has welcomed the official launch and first Annual General Meeting of the West Midlands Combined Authority.
The authority has announced the portfolios for lead members and this week started the consultation on the function of an elected mayor.
The link-up of three like-minded universities will provide the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) with a powerful resource with which it can meet ambitious objectives around skills, employment opportunities and productivity – including the creation of over 500,000 jobs by 2030 and a targeted rate of growth to match that of the London economy.
The WMCU will also support the devolved body’s stated priority of tackling a significant shortage of lower and higher end skills – particularly in the health and advanced manufacturing sectors – in a renewed effort to address the high level of unemployment (9.3%) across the region’s seven metropolitan authorities.
Cliff Allan, Vice-Chancellor at Birmingham City University, said: “The Combined Authority represents a unique opportunity for the West Midlands to really punch its weight on a national level and we are all extremely pleased to welcome this exciting new era for our region.
“Now the Combined Universities can start to press ahead with playing our part in the future of this region working with the Combined Authority and making sure we have the workforce and innovation we need to support continued growth in this part of the country.
“We look forward to working with the Combined Authority to help plug the skills gaps we face in key occupations like nursing and the automotive sector, which will really make a difference to those living and working in Birmingham, the Black Country, Coventry and beyond.”
Vice-Chancellor of Coventry University John Lathan said: “The launch of the West Midlands Combined Authority is a landmark moment in the realisation of the leading role this region can play in the UK’s economic development.
“We welcome its launch, and through our West Midlands Combined Universities initiative we look forward to working with the devolved authorities to tackle some of the skills and productivity challenges facing the region and the country.
“Our universities’ collective expertise in key sectors such as health, digital, and advanced manufacturing will underpin the support we will provide, and will ensure our contribution can focus on upskilling more local workforces and engaging more deeply with local employers to support innovation.”
Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wolverhampton, Geoff Layer said: “It’s really encouraging to see the West Midlands Combined Authority accelerating its ambition to put our region at the heart of economic growth and prosperity.
“Right across the West Midlands key regeneration programmes are improving our cities, towns and communities and, coupled with our long tradition of diversity, innovation and industry, our combined resources are ideally placed to support continuing growth whilst focusing efforts on providing the right kinds of skills that will make a valuable contribution to boosting the economy further.”
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Notes to editors
West Midlands Combined Universities (WMCU) website – www.wmcu.ac.uk
FACTS & FIGURES
- The West Midlands Combined Universities (WMCU) collectively span a region which encompasses three Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) areas and seven metropolitan councils – bodies which themselves make up the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).
- The devolved body WMCA covers:
- Birmingham City Council
- City of Wolverhampton Council
- Coventry City Council
- Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council
- Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council
- Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council
- Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council
- Black Country LEP
- Coventry and Warwickshire LEP
- Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP
- The area covered is home to over 4 million people and has an economy worth £80 billion a year (GVA) through its 130,000 businesses and the 7 million jobs it supports.
- The WMCU comprises three universities representing the three core cities of the West Midlands. Between these universities there is:
- a total combined revenue of over £600 million;
- to be around £1 billion of combined investment in the region by 2021;
- circa 70,000 students and 8,500 staff in total.