Understanding and Addressing Skills Impacts and Needs

This project looks at pathways for young people through education and their prospects afterwards, impacts of addressing disadvantage, and future trends and vulnerabilities.

  1. The ‘static’ question of how skills supply and demand align in the West Midlands at present, and what this alignment may look like in the future. This will involve comparing further- and higher education provision to current job postings and future projections of demand, as well as spatial analysis of how well provision reaches those who need it.
  2. The ‘dynamic’ question of how individuals from different backgrounds progress through the education and skills system, and consequently at which stages the main bottlenecks and inequities arise. This problem will be approached by analysing longitudinal data to determine the relationships between academic attainment, subject studied, and institution attended on subsequent employment and earnings prospects, and comparing these relationships for people from deprived backgrounds to the bulk population.
  3. Skills for the future: consider how long-term trends and COVID impacts are perturbing employer’s skills needs, understand the mix of skills that future workers will need for resilience, and how further education, higher education, and apprenticeships may deliver this.
  4. Research policy, skills, and commercialisation barriers: foreground the role of skills in innovation, and link this to the role of institutions. Explore issues of recruitment and retention of workers with appropriate skills, including with reference to immigration policy.


Research Theme 1

Skills and Local Labour Markets


  1. Produce Local Skills Report Evidence Base for WMCA, which encapsulates the first phase of the research project and sets how well the West Midlands skills system is serving those who need it.
  2. Process school-level data for analysis of how deprivation and disadvantage, as well as type of school attended, influence prospects for school leavers. Quantify this in a regression analysis and look at geographical differences. Report progress and results in blog posts.
  3. Access and analyse individual student records data from the National Pupil Database, to understand impact of deprivation on subject of study and other subtleties of inequality. Produce a policy briefing setting out findings, and draft a journal article for submission in the summer.
  4. Contribute to WMCA-led workshops on future skills trends, risks, and opportunities for city centres and Business Improvement Districts. Produce a policy briefing outlining key findings from the discussions.
  5. Research policy and commercialisation barriers: produce blog posts, collaborative work with other projects (projects 1C, 4C, potentially some of themes 3 and 5.) This could also yield policy memos in support of the WMCA Strategic Economic Development board.


Research team

Professor Anne Green (Project Director)

Alex Smith (Project Manager)

Dr Abigail Taylor (Research Fellow)

Dr Deniz Sevinc (Research Fellow)

Contact details

Project lead contact details: 

Alex Smith

Project Support contact details: 

Matthew Patterson, Administrative Assistant, City-REDI / WM REDI 


Labour Market Disconnect in the West Midlands
City-REDI Blog, Juliane Schwarz, December 2021

A First Look at Quantifying Skills Pathways 
City-REDI Blog, Alex Smith,  November 2020

Perspectives on Skills and the Value of Training: Trends, Challenges and Priorities
City-REDI Blog, Anne Green, July 2020

Economic Resilience: The Multi-Dimensional Role of Skills
City-REDI Blog, Tasos Kitsos, May 2019

Mind the Gap! Qualification Shortages in the West Midlands 
City-REDI Blog, Deniz Sevinc, July 2018

Fuelling City-Regions, Why Skills Matter
City-REDI Blog, Anne Green, July 2017

Policy Briefings

Labour Market Disconnect in the West Midlands
Juliane Schwarz, Alice Pugh, Henriette Breukelaar, Anne Green and George Bramley, December 2021

WMREDI is funded by Research England and the WMREDI partnership

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