An £800,000 research project led by the University of Birmingham and Warwick University has been launched in the hope to reduce social inequality and improve productivity in the West Midlands

Final Year French and Spanish student. News Reporter for Redbrick and Chair of the Linguist magazine.
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Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) and Warwick Business School at the University of Warwick will partner with City-REDI from the University of Birmingham. Both institutions will analyse the constraints that threaten productivity and innovation levels of local companies.

The project will focus on the key areas of skill shortages, supply chains and foreign direct investment and their impact on industries in the region.

Investors in the study include big names in the private sector such as Jaguar Land Rover and Aston Martin, while regional shareholders will include the West Midlands Combined Authority, the Midlands Engine and five Local Enterprise Partnerships.

Professor Nigel Driffield, leader of the project from WBS at the University of Warwick, remarked: ‘The West Midlands is known as the manufacturing hub of the UK, but it needs to build on this reputation, attracting more investment and more jobs to the area, particularly with the threat of Brexit looming.’

Outside of the West Midlands, the research project will also work closely with the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the Chambers of Commerce, Trades Union Congress (TUC) and investment company Unite.

Redbrick spoke to a final year UoB student who said, ‘I think it’s really great the University is collaborating with Warwick, to ensure the West Midlands economy is stable for its future employees – especially those leaving university.’

Further to their investment in local industry strategy, researchers hope to reveal new methods of increasing productivity.

The ‘foci of the research’, according to Anne Green from City-REDI, will be on ‘skills and inclusive growth issues.’

Green reaffirms that the aims of the investigation are ‘in line with key concerns with regional policy makers,’ as understanding policies that improve productivity can reduce social inequalities across the region.

The project will also examine how such policies may be exacerbating the degree of inequality across the region, instead of resolving it.

Director of City-REDI, Professor Simon Collinson, who is leading the project on Birmingham’s side commented: ‘By contributing to a reduction in social inequality, alongside promoting economic growth, we are continuing the legacy of the University of Birmingham as a long-standing anchor institution in the Birmingham city-region.’