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