Westminster Business Forum

Next steps for the West Midlands Local Industrial Strategy - innovation, infrastructure and skills

Morning, Thursday, 27th June 2019

Central Birmingham


Timed to follow the publication of the West Midlands Local Industrial Strategy, expected later in Spring, this conference will bring together stakeholders to discuss the way forward for realising its aim of boosting productivity, earnings and wellbeing across the West Midlands.

Delegates will discuss priorities for supporting innovation and key clusters of industry, garnering inward investment, developing workforce skills and delivering the infrastructure that businesses and communities need.

The Strategy aims to put in place new platforms and programmes to support talent and innovation across the sectors.

Delegates will discuss what is needed from the Strategy to remove obstacles for businesses looking to drive forward innovation, such as access to finance and skills along with what is needed to stimulate new research and innovation activity, particularly in new forms of transport such as electric vehicles, driverless vehicles and battery manufacturing.

As the West Midlands is becoming a globally renowned advanced manufacturing and engineering centre, sessions will look at what needs to be done to build on this and ensure sustainable energy and clean growth.

Delegates will also consider priorities for helping businesses to keep up with technological developments, and what more can be done to support innovation start-ups.

With the number of West Midlands residents with degree-level qualifications well below the national average and the percentage without any formal qualifications being almost double the UK-wide figure, delegates will discuss how the Strategy can build on the West Midlands Skills Agreement and boost digital and technical skills, job opportunities and productivity across the region.

We expect discussion on what needs to be done to achieve this through apprenticeships, further investment in technical education and a more effective skills and careers system, to support more young people and adults into work as well as upskilling and retraining local people of all ages. 

Delegates will also discuss how the West Midlands Combined Authority and LEPs can support the development of management and leadership across businesses in the West Midlands and analyse the work of the West Midlands Mental Health Commission who are seeking ways to reduce incidences of mental health, improve services and increase the number of people able to work.

With the Transforming Cities Fund already committing £250m for local transport improvements in the West Midlands and the development of HS2, delegates will discuss how these existing plans are aligned with local housing needs and those of local business and what further plans are needed including reducing congestion and improving the tram network.

As the 2022 Commonwealth Games is expected to boost the economy in the West Midlands by around £1.5bn, the seminar will discuss what transport, housing and infrastructure needs to be in place and how this will be delivered on time for  the Games and provide the region with a lasting legacy.

Sessions will also examine what collaboration is needed between local government, industry, universities and skills providers to create ‘inclusive economic growth’ addressing imbalances in skills, investment, health outcomes and levels of deprivation across the region.

Keynote Speaker

Councillor Ian Ward

Leader, Birmingham City Council and Portfolio Lead, Growth, WMCA


Tim Pile

Chair, Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership

Councillor Celia Hibbert

Penn Ward, City of Wolverhampton Council

Zach Wilcox

Senior Consultant, City Economics, Arup

Professor John Bryson

Professor, Enterprise and Economic Geography, University of Birmingham

Senior speaker confirmed from the Cities and Local Growth Unit

Superintendent Sean Russell

Director, Implementation, West Midlands Mental Health Commission, WMCA

Laura Shoaf

Managing Director, Transport for West Midlands