Studio boss challenges government to curb Lancashire skills drain

Paul Kendrick, the managing director of Accrington firm Studio, has written to all Lancashire MPs asking them to help reverse Lancashire's 'commuter outflow'.

The letter follows a study conducted by the Lancashire Institute for Economic and Business Research at University of Central Lancashire which found that the 800,000 commuters who work outside of the region could be taking some £4.3bn out of the economy each year.

Lancashire residents seeking jobs in Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Yorkshire and other parts of the North of England, due to a lack of high-skilled jobs at home, could be costing the Lancashire economy as much as  £7bn each year.

The study, which was commissioned in partnership with Studio, looked at the consequences of seven key factors:

  1. 80,000 residents (1 in 7) commuting to work outside of Lancashire each year
  2. 360 workers moving outside of Lancashire
  3. a smaller, ageing workforce
  4. A 4 per cent gap in median earnings between Lancashire and the North West might induce around 2200 workers to find jobs in better paying area
  5. 130,000 workers unable to find jobs matched to their higher skill level
  6. Nearly 11,500 graduate students moving out of Lancashire
  7. 4.6% of workers would be most dissatisfied with their neighborhood and become potential movers

Professor Philip Whyman, co-author of the report, added: “The largest contributory factor, identified by our analysis, relates to skills mismatch, as more highly skilled individuals find it difficult to find suitable employment opportunities in the local area and either commute or relocate in search of greater opportunities and/or income.

By uncovering the true impact of this issue, we hope everyone with financial or emotional connection to Lancashire, will consider the steps they can take to minimise this drain.

"Reversing this trend will require action, by local policy makers and business leaders, to create more high skill jobs within Lancashire, through a combination of attracting high productivity firms, facilitating the growth of new industries and/or encouraging those existing SMEs with high growth (scale-up) potential."

Studio's Paul Kendrick said: “To think that this region is potentially losing out on billions of pounds is very disappointing. By uncovering the true impact of this issue, we hope everyone with financial or emotional connection to Lancashire, will consider the steps they can take to minimise this drain.

“As one of the largest employers in the region, we are committed to supporting and growing the workforce as our business grows. We know that there is a wealth of smart, savvy and ambitious people in the region and we want to keep them here. We believe it is the job of all employers to look at ways we can collaborate with business, local government, education providers and the Third Sector, to determine how we can reduce this economic drain and help Lancashire to flourish.”

Professor Philip Whyman added: "Leadership programmes to share best practice with business leaders, the creation of high-performance clusters in new rapidly expanding areas of the economy (such as digital, healthcare IT and/or renewable energy) and creative solutions to partner local businesses with higher education institutions to enhance retention of graduates within the local economy, can all make a difference.
"Skills investment is a necessary component of any growth strategy for the region, but by itself it is not sufficient without having created the kind of high skill, high performance economy that can make the most out of this enhanced skills base."
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