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Last update: November 2008

Investing in the West Midlands

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About the West Midlands

The West Midlands has an internationally competitive features, such as:

  • Central location with excellent access across the UK and to many mainland European locations with a presence of an international airport.
  • Proximity to London. West Midlands firms are well positioned to compete for regional business
  • High calibre, well-trained staff in many disciplines
  • Major cost advantages in comparison with London and the South-east
  • Leading universities working in close partnership with industry
  • An economic infrastructure which has already attracted in excess of 2,300 foreign-owned companies to the region
  • Internationally recognised exhibition and conference facilities, e.g. NEC and ICC.
(Source: Advantage West Midlands)

Labour Environment

The West Midlands labour force of 2.6 million is projected to grow to 2.7 million by 2006. 74.6% (England average 75%) of all working age people in the region were employed in 2005, up from 69.6%in 1992, and 30% of the region's workforce is under 34 years old.

In Spring 2005 the West Midlands had the fifth lowest regional economic inactivity (neither employed nor actively looking for work) for males (15.9%, England average 16.1%), third highest for females (27.7%, England average 26.6%), and fourth lowest overall (21.5%, England average 21.2%). (Source: Advantage West Midlands)

Source: Annual Business Inquiry 2003, based on SIC 2003 (latest)

  Workplaces Employees
Agriculture & Fishing 588 4,269
Energy & Water 342 14,554
Manufacturing 20,129 418,347
Construction 17,552 100,804
Distribution, Hotels & Restaurants 58,103 553,293
Transport & Communications 9,410 129,596
Banking, Finance & Insurance 49,456 382,889
Public Administration, Education & Health 15,892 594,948
Other Services 15,170 110,861
Source: Annual Business Inquiry 2003, based on SIC 2003 (latest)


Foreign Direct Investment

The West Midlands is a major exporting region, accounting for approximately 8% of the national total by value. It has also proved successful in attracting foreign direct investment - attracting nearly 2000 overseas companies to set up facilities here, with the main centres being Birmingham, Coventry and Telford.

The leading foreign investor countries in the West Midlands are USA, Germany, France, Netherlands, Japan, Switzerland, and Sweden. (Source: Government Office of the West Midlands)

Global Overview

Manufacturing now accounts for 22% of total employment - the second highest in the UK - with the service sector employing 68% of the region's population. The automotive and components industries, metals, food and drink, ceramics, agriculture and high-tech businesses are all key employers. New industries, such as tourism, particularly business tourism, are also increasingly significant. (Source: Advantage West Midlands)

Automotive

The West Midlands is generally regarded as the UK 'centre of gravity' of the automotive industry, with 30% of all cars produced in the UK which are manufactured here. There is a strong presence of volume premium brands: Peugeot, Land Rover and Jaguar all have their UK headquarters and major vehicle assembly facilities in the region There is estimated to be at least 1500 dedicated automotive suppliers in the region, 18 of the top 20 automotive component suppliers in the world have a base in the region. (Source: Advantage West Midlands and The West Midlands Region)

Building Technologies

Building technologies remains at the heart of the regional economy, the West Midlands aim to make the connection between a heritage of manufacturing excellence and the future demands of high technologies creating a thriving and innovative sector. Building Technologies companies in the West Midlands generate a turnover of 6.7 billion per annum and employ over 260,000 people in the region.

Business Services

The Business & Professional Services sector, in the West Midlands Region, is not only the fastest growing sector within the region itself, it has also enjoyed such significant growth over the past five years, that it is now be rated as the UK's leading business and professional services centre outside London.

Birmingham, the region's capital city, is the focus of the regional capability in this sector. Birmingham, home to 200 law firms, boasts a wealth of highly talented banking specialists, many top accountants, 50 major property services and one of Europe's largest insurance markets. (Source: The West Midlands Region)

The sector currently employs around 150,000 in the region. In Birmingham alone the sector currently employs over 90,000 people, and is projected to increase by over 20,000 jobs by 2012. (Source: BEIC Economic Review 2002). Based on the results of the West Midlands Employer Skills Survey 2003, there are an estimated 28,400 establishments within the West Midlands, accounting for 15.5% of all regional establishments. (Source: Advantage West Midlands)

Environmental Technology and Renewable Energy

The environmental industry in the West Midlands is a strong and growing sector, which represents a mainstream part of the region's economy. The sector employs around 29,000 people in the West Midlands Region, with a forecast growth of 5% per annum to 2010.

The sector strengths are fuel cell technologies, biomass technologies, wind energy, and resource recovery. (Source: The West Midlands Region)

Food and Drink

The West Midlands is recognised the world over as a premier location for food and drink manufacture thanks, in part, to the global success of local-born brands such as Cadbury and Bass. The region is also the location of choice for many of this sectors leading brands such as, Muller , Florette , Groupe Danone, Sun Valley, Heinz, Nestle and PepsiCo . (Source: The West Midlands region)

Attracted by a unique central location, ideal for food logistics and distribution, all major food retailers also have distribution centres operating out of the region. The region is rated at 6th out of 11 for output improvement between 1996 and 2002 and has an excellent inward investment track record, with 5 of the last 7 new foreign-owned businesses setting up here. (Source: Advantage West Midlands)

The West Midland's food and drink sector includes some 2,600 regional businesses and employs approximately 66,000 people directly; with a further 100,000 or more in the wider supply chain. Food and drink employment in the West Midlands is forecast to grow by approximately 2.5% until 2012.

These suppliers, producers and farmers are responsible for around 9% of food and drink output for the country. The region is a nationally recognised centre for the manufacture of dairy products, leaders in secondary meat processing operations, fruit processing and bakery processors. (Source: The West Midlands Region)

High Value Consumer Products

The West Midlands' reputation is as a world-renowned centre for the creation of unique consumer products. This is due to the sector's design-led ethic and imaginative ambition. The region provides a fertile business environment that both encourages and stimulates the genius of individuals and businesses in this sector.

Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter, the largest of its type in UK, has skilled goldsmiths and jewellery makers who manufacture 70% of all jewellery in the UK. Walsall is home to the British saddle with over 80 equestrian industry companies based here. There is also a strong concentration of the regions glass companies in Stourbridge. The clothing industry, based around the Black Country, Birmingham and Coventry, consists of 600 companies employing 11,000 people and there are 2,100 furniture companies production employing some 22,000 people throughout the region

Manufacturing

The West Midlands is the heart of UK manufacturing. Despite a recent decline, manufacturing is, and will continue to be, of huge significance to the West Midlands economy. It remains an important element in the economy, accounting for 20.4% of all regional employment. The service sector has expanded increasing by over 250,000 jobs and now represents nearly 70% of the region's employment. (Source: Government Office for the West Midlands)

By 2015, the West Midlands manufacturing is expected to contribute 20% of the regions Gross Value Added (GVA), the highest of any other UK region. It makes a larger contribution to the economy in the West Midlands than in any other UK region.

The sector accounts for nearly 25% of West Midlands GDP compared to 19% nationally. In addition, the region directly exports over 29% of its manufactured goods, from around 29% of its manufacturing base. (Source: Advantage West Midlands)

Information and Communication technologies

ICT sector, currently growing at a rate of 20% per annum, is the recognised centre of the UK software industry. This vibrant high growth business base includes international renowned players such as Fujitsu, IBM and Cap Gemini, emerging regional software pioneers such as Silver Lining Solutions and expanding European enterprises such as Telsey Tele-communications. (Source: The West Midlands Region)

The sector employs some 53,000 people in over 8,000 firms, the majority of which are located in the south east of the region, delivering 4 billion turnover. This marks an increase of 45 % in ICT companies and 40% increase in employees since 2001. (Source: Annual Business Inquiry Employee Analysis, ONS Crown Copyright Reserved 2005)

Medical and Healthcare Technologies

The West Midlands is fast becoming a focal point for specialised medical technology companies and has become the location of choice for many world-renowned companies in this field, such as Kimal, Sunrise Medical, Microtek, Salts Healthcare, Sterilox and Warwick Sasco.

Supported by the knowledge that fourteen research departments, within the region's leading universities, have attained '5' or '5 star' excellence ratings. That there is a unique integration of academia, research bodies and NHS Trusts taking place in the West Midlands.

The sector employs some 16,000 people in over 700 firms. Many of whom benefit from the West Midlands NHS Collaborative Procurement Hub being the largest in the country, with a spend of c3.5 billion per annum. (Source: The West Midlands Region)

Tourism and Leisure

The capital city, Birmingham, is an international meeting place, with world class sporting, conference and exhibition venues, luxury hotels, and restaurants as well as Europe's leading shopping centre, the BullRing (with more than 36 million visitors to date).

The region has world-class conference and exhibition venues, such as the National Exhibition Centre the busiest in Europe in terms of number of exhibitions, International Convention Centre, National Indoor Arena, Telford International Centre, Coventry Arena, Stoneleigh Park and Warwick University. Birmingham International Airport was voted 'Best Business Terminus' in the Business Travel World magazine awards 2003. Alton Towers Theme Park in North Staffordshire is the UK's most visited paid-for attraction. It has also won Meetings and Incentive Travel's "Best UK Unusual Venue" for the past three years. (Source: The West Midlands Region)

Strong Infrastructure

Located at the heart of the UK's transport networks, the region's central location means that it is the gateway to national, European and global markets. The West Midlands has more motorways than any other UK region. At the centre of the UK's rail network, Birmingham New Street Station is the country's main national rail interchange, boasting 88 daily rail journeys to and from London every 30 minutes.

Birmingham International Airport is the UK's 5th largest airport offering daily, direct scheduled flights to 65 destinations in Europe, North America, Asia and the Middle East. Coventry Airport runs low cost scheduled flights to 13 destinations throughout Europe, including Amsterdam, Barcelona and Paris. The Channel Tunnel freight terminal at Hams Hall provides direct access to the mainland European rail network. (Source: The West Midlands Region)

Communication

The West Midlands has one of the most advanced telecommunications network in Europe. Innovative information and communications technology is the lifeblood of the region and the backbone to its entrepreneurial success. The same inventive spirit that confirmed the West Midlands as the heart of manufacturing has now established the region as home to communications excellence.

There are over 100 companies either involved in the manufacture of telecoms equipment or engaged in the provision of voice and/or data communications. Service providers in the region include BT, Cable & Wireless, Telewest, NTL, Thus, Norweb Telecom, Energis. (Source: The West Midlands Region)

 

Last update: November 2008

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