Skills Needs of Business and Professional Services in the West Midlands

The Service and Enterpise Research Unit (SERU) has been commissioned by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) to undertake a sub-sectoral and sub-regional analysis of the skills needs of business and professional service (BPS) firms in the West Midlands. The work is funded by the European Social Fund and in particular its Action Plan Phase 2. This means that the study will focus on firms located within Objective 2 areas within the region; these incorporate areas covered by all six LSC sub-groups in the West Midlands.

An earlier study of Professional Services in Birmingham and The West Midlands: Strengths, Opportunities and Threats (Daniels and Bryson, 2002) highlighted demand-led labour force issues that were identified by more than half of the BPS surveyed. In order of priority, the most important were: shortages of skilled staff, shortages of graduate recruits, high cost of staff, and poor educational attainment and qualifications.

In summary, the research will facilitate the development and implementation of skills-based policies by the LSC's in the West Midlands by:

  • Identifying the needs of BPS operating in different sub-sectors and parts of the region
  • Providing demand-led research into the skills and training needs of BPS, and identifying practical solutions.
  • Identifying skills shortages and deficiencies that can be addressed by the intervention of local LSCs and local/regional training institutions.
  • Providing user-friendly outputs that will inform the development of the Region's skill base and related policies, as well as being a valuable tool for the development of new training courses and lobbying activities.

The comprehensive approach to exploring all of the major BPS sub-sectors in all six LSC sub-regions will allow each of them to benchmark the skill needs and performance of BPS in their region. This will facilitate careful targeting of skills policies within the West Midlands region, enabling resources to be directed to areas and BPS activities that are especially important for maintaining and enhancing the competitiveness of the Region's economy, including business formation and improved work opportunities.

For further information, please contact Peter Daniels (0121 414 5537) or John Bryson (0121 414 5549).