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 sets out the Government’s high level objectives. Key components of the prospectus are:
- 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, being 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 Rail Forum welcomes this important step and along with government we believe that our industry has a crucial part to play in making the Midlands Engine a reality. Working with the Rail Supply Group we have identified a number of priority areas to work on with our members to both support them with their local needs and to support the broader government agenda. / aspirations for the region.
The Rail Forum, under the banner of ‘Midlands Rail – Engineering for Growth’, has identified three priority areas for action:
- Delivering Technology and Innovation
- Growing People and Skills; and
- Supporting SMEs (through specific initiatives under the above two themes).
All these work streams are aligned with, and support, the Rail Supply Group (RSG).