The commissioners who are conducting an in-depth investigation into boosting skills and employment in Wolverhampton have met for the first time.

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The inaugural meeting of the independent Wolverhampton Skills and Employment Commission took place at Molineux Stadium on Tuesday 6 January.

The commission is led by eminent academic Professor Tony Travers who is director of British government at the London School of Economics.

His fellow commissioners are:

Stewart Towe CBE - chairman of the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership and group chairman and managing director of Hadley Industries Holdings Ltd.

Professor Anne Green - from Warwick University's Institute for Employment Research.

Jas Bains MBE - Executive Director with the Accord Housing Group, also representing the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Samantha Bagshaw - HR manager for Sainsbury's.

Simon Fennell - International recruitment manager at Carillion.

Nigel Moorhouse - General manager (Wolverhampton) UTC Aerospace Systems, Actuation & Propeller Systems.

The commission has been created after Councillor Roger Lawrence, leader of Wolverhampton City Council, said that tackling unemployment and skills shortages were a key priority.

It will work completely independently to bring together businesses, education and training providers as well as the council to find solutions aimed at improving the city's prospects for sustainable, long term economic growth and prosperity.

Initial findings are due in March and a final report is due to be completed in the summer.

The Type=links;Linkid=4875;Title=Wolverhampton Skills and Employment Commission;Target=_blank; website was launched last month giving businesses, education providers and other interested organisations the opportunity to have their say on the issues.

Commission chairman Professor Tony Travers said: "The City of Wolverhampton faces real challenges in terms of raising skills and employment opportunities and better paid jobs.

"The city's economy is changing - as are the types of jobs being created. All of the organisations we will be calling on evidence from recognise this and the need to bridge the skills gap in the long term.

"The commission will act independently and will need local businesses, schools, colleges and the university to be fully engaged to be successful. We will also consider national and regional research and review what is already in place to address skills shortages and what is needed. This will enable us to determine how different organisations will play a part in shaping skills development across the city.

"This will not be a quick fix - it is about strengthening the city and raising its economic output at the same time as improving people's prospects and quality of life. It will be a challenge; but there is great determination and commitment by everyone involved to succeed."

Councillor Roger Lawrence said: "There's no doubt this is going to be a challenge for all of us as we know we have higher unemployment and lower skills levels than other areas. However, we're determined to tackle this and I'm convinced that, by working and pulling together, the city can be confident and optimistic about the future.

"We are moving in the right direction. The city is attracting high end manufacturers with i54 being a prime example. However there is a long way to go - while employment opportunities grow we must make sure there is a local workforce here able to take advantage."

  • released: Thursday 8 January, 2015