Universities, Skills and Regional Economic Strategies

This project aims to investigate the current and future role of skills initiatives in local and regional economic strategies.

It places particular emphasis on how university initiatives and partnerships can support the building of economic resilience within the West Midlands, and short-long term recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. It uses as its platform research undertaken by City-REDI researchers on local skills systems, their contributions to Local Industrial Strategies and work undertaken on ‘skills’ and ‘place’ with the Industrial Strategy Council. It also endeavours to build on skills research in West Midlands Combined Authority, the Office for Data Analytics and other WMREDI as well as work undertaken in the West Midlands on the LIPSIT project. It seeks to expand understanding by focusing on the role of universities within local economic recovery planning.



Research Theme 1

Skills and local labour Markets


Work Package 1 will advance existing learning about how universities have contributed to local industrial strategies (particularly in relation to skills needs in priority sectors), by considering the role of universities in resetting the region’s economic strategy as it seeks to respond to and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. It will produce case studies contrasting experiences in the three West Midlands Combined Authority LEP areas. Such an approach will enable comparison between the differing university models in the three LEP areas. Key research questions explored in this work package include:

  • What is the role of universities in local skills ecosystems?
  • What is the role of universities in relation to skills in immediate regional recovery plans in the West Midlands
  • How are universities seeking to address short-term skills issues (e.g. brokering opportunities for graduates in demand sectors, supporting training in demand sectors and helping industries that could be subject to decline – both in terms of support to firms and to workers at risk of unemployment, helping to identify skills issues)?
  • How have different types of universities (e.g. Russell group, post-1992) differed in their response and level of involvement in recovery planning? To what extent are they engaging with colleges?
  • What sorts of contributions from universities do/have policy makers value/d most in this space?
  • To what extent and how have universities worked together as part of response and recovery policy?
  • Are there new ways of working that should be maintained in future?

Research team

Professor Anne Green (Project Director)

Dr Abigail Taylor (Project Manager)

Dr Sara Hassan (Research Fellow)

Dr Charlotte Hoole (Research Fellow)

Dr Juliane Schwarz (Research Fellow)


Priorities for up-skilling and re-skilling: what role can and should universities play? - May 2021
Dr Abigail Taylor, Professor Anne Green and Dr Sara Hassan

Work Packages

The project is divided into two Work Packages (WPs):

  • WP1: seeks to investigate what universities are doing in to respond to Covid-19, while drawing on work undertaken to support the development of Local Industrial Strategies (LISs) and planning for economic recovery.
  • WP2: is concerned with developing understanding of what a future local skills system would ideally look in the short-/medium/long-term and the place of universities within it. 

Contact details

Project lead contact details: 

Dr Abigail Taylor

Project Support contact details: 

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

Policy Briefings

Priorities for up-skilling and re-skilling: what role can and should universities play? - Policy Briefing, May 2021
Dr Abigail Taylor, Professor Anne Green and Dr Sara Hassan

WMREDI is funded by Research England and the WMREDI partnership

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