26/06/2011 The Politics Show West Midlands


Jon Sopel and Patrick Burns are here with the top political stories of the week.

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In the Midlands, manufacturing Eagles economic recovery. Business


warns of a skills crisis. In Shropshire, they are seeing red


over green electricity. Powered over green electricity. Powered


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2516 seconds


Hello again from the Midlands. Teachers walkout on Thursday over


pensions, and Unison threatened mass action in October over pay


cuts. Where is the economic recovery led by us in the


industrial heartlands? Some companies are doing spectacularly


well. JCB diggers and Jaguar Land Rover are posting record profits.


But chronic structural weaknesses remain, not least what some


business leaders are calling a school crisis. It used to be that


the skills of the workforce was one of our proudest boasts of -- boasts.


So what has happened? We will be asking our guests. That is all


coming up later. First of all, the drive to up-skill and re-skill our


workforce for new jobs in new industries. I and 26 years old and


I am a budding entrepreneur. I and 22, by graduate this year, and I am


a fashion designer. I and 32 and I have set up my own fashion business.


Three students at Birmingham City University on the verge of starting


new businesses. It is not about education, education, education as


is his -- as it is skills, skills, skills. When you go back, you are


not just an academic, you are also employable. The University has


launched an employable universe -- student programme. They have been


working with businesses. My job is all about working with students to


make sure they are developing satisfying careers. Helping it all


is a former Midlands Business woman of the year. We are designing


courses to meet their needs. We are getting a good response from the


employers, and we are giving our youngsters the best chances of


getting jobs. For many, this type of collaboration cannot come soon


enough. Philip Oliver started this video-game company in his bedroom.


Now it is one of the biggest in the world, employing 200 people in


Leamington Spa. Everyone is screaming about the lack of IT


qualified people. This is a nationwide problem. He is just back


from Reed E3 Video Game Conference in Los Angeles, a showcase for the


industry which is worth �250 million to the West Midlands


economy. First, we have to inspire children to engage in IT.


Technology is changing at such a pace that it is difficult for


education to keep up with that. By the time they have written the


curriculum, the industry has moved on. The interest -- they have to be


more adaptable. Several businesses have taken part in a survey that


the chamber of commerce is calling a skills crisis. Many employers


said that they found jobs were difficult to fill. Particularly in


IT. There are still complaints about standards of Britain and


spoken English, and the key demand is for investment in training at


all levels. The skills shortages, for many businesses, is a real


crisis to them, and what the government should be doing, as it


ploughs billions of pounds into the education sector, is to ask the


education sector to be more adaptable to the needs of


businesses. We need to balance the demand side of the supply-side.


is the -- so here is the headline. UK suffers skill shortage. This


headline was from 2000. 11 years ago. Politicians are are under


renewed pressure to change it. Has the education system be paying up


to now? If you look in this area, I am told we have 200,000 people who


have no qualifications. Something has gone wrong. The government has


talked of a need for a skills revolution. What business is saying


is that the time for talking is Applications close this week for


the second wave of government enterprise zones after the ones in


Blackburn and Birmingham. -- in the Black Country. So to our guests.


The Labour MP for Dudley North, in Austin, chairs a new MPs' committee


to try and get our region competing effectively in this fast-changing


world. So too has Laurie Lee Burke, and Chris Kelly. Ian Austin, you


are one of a number of members of this committee who is going to be


meeting fines cable tomorrow. What are the sort of arguments are you


going to be making? As we saw in the film, we space major challenges


in this region. We have seen lots of people doing well, but we face


big talent is still. We have more at the end our fest Chef of


problems. We need better standards in schools and colleges and


universities. We need more apprentices, and we need more


investments. The West Midlands has seen a 75 % increase in


apprenticeships since the coalition came in. They are getting in where


your government failed to go. choose to be 60,000 apprentices.


Now we have four times that. We had the best performing apprentices


here in the West Midlands. I do not want to strike a party political


note. I want to see the new government do it as well. Are you


doing it? Yes, absolutely. We smashed our target on


apprenticeships. That is going great. What we need, I think, is a


closer relationship between business and our educational


providers to make sure that they are in tune with providing the


skills that we need to enable business to continue on its


trajectory. There was a suggestion that there was a disconnect between


what is coming out of the education system and what businesses want,


which may be seen as a sorry commentary on many years of


compulsory schooling to age 16. might be, but we have the local


enterprise partnerships working now. Their objective is to represent the


interests of business, and they will be consulted on all aspects of


educational policy, to make sure that we get the right people in the


right jobs. Are the enterprise partnerships working? There was a


lot of concern went your government round-up the investment agencies.


The Black Country is doing a fantastic job. They hit the ground


running. I think it is really working, and having business people


on board in a way that it was not achieved before his fallible for


the economy. Let me bring in what one of our tumours said. What are


the role - for what is the role of the university's? Wolverhampton


University in the Black Country has very good links with the programme.


They are the universities with other specialist areas. We have


technology and innovation centres as well which brings together the


technology we need to get the business together with the clever


brains of universities. Another duet says that science and


engineering departments should be funded to provide mentoring


services. We need more businesses coming through than that -- like


that can be -- computer games business. This is a serious issue.


If you are a struggling small business, you want to bring in


graduates. Universities and businesses should form big links,


and I am not sure MPs he, with the resources they have... There is


further funding coming for the schemes. Every area is well


represented and fully resourced. this scale crisis, what a terrible


irony it would be, if Jaguar Land Rover was to set a plant in the


Black Country. The test would be whether it sucked in people from


elsewhere. We should have an ambition for the mess with -- West


Midlands. We want to beat the West Midlands to be the biggest increase


in skills. In your government, we saw education, education, education.


Still we have under skilled people. We made a big improvement in


schools standards, but to be doing enough? No. We need to do more.


are working as one to make sure whatever policy we come up with is


going to be the best for growth in the West Midlands. Are you stack --


happy with standards of academia? Some of the employers have been


talking about basic English. thing I am most disappointed about


is the fundamentals. It is an absolutely vital first step to


taking on an apprenticeship. 200,000 people in the West Midlands


have no qualifications whatsoever. None at all. How worrying is that?


That is shocking. I think it underlines why we should set for


our Regent the addition to set the biggest increase in school


standards. Some good things are happening now. I have said in the


interaction the you are setting aside your party political


differences to do this. His is a nicety, of are you genuinely


meaningless? Are you really working together? Absolutely. We really do.


We have had meetings with pins cable, we really do, all of us, a


have our roots and the West Midlands background at the fore.


have concerns about some policies. But we have a different government.


We are in opposition. There are things that the government are


bringing forward, and I have to make sure that I get the best but I


can thought he will I represent. the West Midlands, the


Conservatives and Liberal Democrats won a majority of seats, so it it


is a our programme, but it is right that Labour have worked together


with us. Think you're very much indeed. -- thank you. You can join


As if delivering the economic recovery wasn't enough, the


government are coupling it to their green revolution. Lower carbon


emissions and greener energy. Plans for green electricity have made


some people in Shropshire see red. If controversial plans to see eight


Super will wind farms go ahead in Wales, National Grid would want to


connect them to their network via a series of pylons through Shropshire.


With our ageing generation of coal- fired power stations nearing the


end of their lives, how to reconcile the demand for renewable


sources with the desire to protect These are the unspoilt views in


Shropshire. Jim Murray has lived here for 25 years. They are now


worried that their rural idyll could be ruined for ever. There are


plans to build a high-voltage pylons through here. The reason


people live here, and big reason why people come to visit is the


fact that it is totally and utterly unspoiled, ancient countryside. We


have been guardians of this area for many other people. Many people


in the West Midlands use this place as their area where they come and


regenerate and feel at peace, and if we do not save it, it will not


be there for them. National Grid is looking at constructing a, to take


energy generated by wind farms in Wales through took their customers


in Oswestry and Shrewsbury. There are -- they are building a sub-


station in Cefn Coch or Abermule. It could mean miles and miles of 50


metre high pylons. Communities in Shropshire are united in their


opposition to their plans, but it will not be until late in the year


when the battle really gets under way. That is when the National Grid


will unveil their preferred sub- station and route through the


network. The worst-case scenario would be pylons. They would prefer


to see underground cables. National Grid has said that no decision has


been made as yet. Our estimates are 1.6 billion -- �1.6 million per,


tut. The estimate for -- �1.6 million per kilometre or. It is


considerably more with underground cables. Many people questioned


those figures. The cost of all this falls on the consumer, which is


every one of us. We all use electricity. I don't think that in


land wind farms are the solution. We need to take a big breath and


look at what is out there, and review the policy, and that is what


I hope will come out of this. is anger in Wales too. Now, the


Welsh First Minister wants to cap the number of developments would go


ahead. If we stick to the limits in Tan 8, it will limit the amount of


electricity they will produce. In Shropshire, that will solve a lot


of our worries. There's also worries about flooding and so forth.


It is a step in the right direction. Some of the county's politicians


will be meeting national grid in the next few weeks. But for now,


people in England and Wales face an It is ironic, isn't it, but in the


name of environmentally friendly electricity, but we do threaten the


lovely environment there? speaking -- speaking personally, I


think there's a certain beauty to wind farms, but by... Not everyone


agrees with you! There has been a chorus of protest. I am more


concerned about the pylons. They are ugly, they too stretched across


the countryside, and you do see them across our countryside. If


there were an alternative way to carry that electricity, I think


that would be good. Hearing Keith Barrow there, the Conservative


leader of Trott Chick Council, he says he is not can stir --


convinced about wind farms. He is crying out for a policy lead from


the government. We have been indicated that from our policy bill.


That is not a leader from the government. We are in parrying


position -- empowering people to make decisions for themselves.


Underground cabling is an expensive process to go through as well. When


money is tight, these expensive options may not be always possible.


I suppose, thinking back to our early conversation, we might get


West Midlands industries making the wind farms! There is a business in


our constituency making ball- bearings for the wind turbines. If


we get colleges and universities working with us, we can help.


will continue this conversation another time. Just a reminder as we


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