Everyone’s heard of the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ but what about the part of the country between London and the north? In the summer of 2016 the UK government realised that they were missing a vital piece of their economic jigsaw and on a visit to Derby the then Chancellor George Osborne launched the concept of a ‘Midlands Engine for Growth’.
In December that year the Midlands Engine for Growth Prospectus was published which set out the Government’s high level objectives. Key components of the prospectus were:
- Development of a Midlands Engine Productivity Improvement Plan; with a focus on business investment, research and development, innovation, skills and connectivity improvements.
- Midlands Engine focussed trade missions and inward investment missions
- Commitment to a long term transport strategy, developed by Midlands Connect
- Creation of a £180m ‘fund of funds’ to support business growth
- Much greater collaboration across FE colleges and between colleges and industry to deliver the skills employers need and
- the establishment of Specialist Advanced Manufacturing Hubs, based on the concept of institutes of Technology.
The Midlands Engine Vision for Growth subsequently set out five priority areas of focus to ensure the Midlands drives the UK economy:
- Connecting the Midlands through maximising new technologies to deliver a radical transformation of the Midlands transport network
- Tackling the mismatch between business skills needs and the skill levels of Midlands residents
- Growing International Trade and Investment in existing and new markets
- Increasing Innovation and Enterprise, creating an environment where our science and innovation strengths can be maximised
- And, Shaping Great Places by promoting the Midlands as a great place to live, visit, learn and work.
The Rail Forum believes that our industry has a crucial part to play in making the Midlands Engine a reality and our current strategy includes a number of specific activities that support and align with both the Midlands Engine priorities and the Rail Supply Group’s strategic priorities. Over the coming weeks and months these will evolve to take account of the new Rail Sector Deal and the Midlands pilots outlined in the document.