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Aston Martin chief to lead new skills push

Andy Palmer will head commission to advise the West Midlands Combined Authority on how to increase the region's skills and productivity

Andy Palmer, president and chief executive of Aston Martin (left) with Nick Page, chief executive of Solihull Council, launch the new West Midlands Combined Authority's Productivity and Skills Commission
Aston Martin chief executive Andy Palmer (left) and Solihull Council head Nick Page launch the WMCA's Productivity and Skills Commission

The head of luxury car maker Aston Martin is to lead a new body aimed at boosting the West Midlands' productivity and skills.

Andy Palmer has been named as chairman of the new independent 'Productivity and Skills Commission' which has been set up to provide support and advice to the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) as it seeks to reduce unemployment, improve people's job skills and secure better productivity.

Speaking at a launch event at the Birmingham offices of financial services firm PwC today, he issued a call for evidence and urged the business, education and public sectors to give their views.

He said: "Our goal as a region is to grow the economy beyond current projections and make our already world-class business base stronger and better still.

"It's no secret there has been a skills and productivity gap in the UK and the West Midlands is no different and, while there is no single cause for this, it's vital we tackle it.

"The commission will focus on identifying solutions to the region's productivity shortfall, looking to the future and not dwelling on the problems of the past.

"By sharing their experience and best practice, the people of this region can help deliver practical yet achievable growth plans.

"That's why we are issuing this call for evidence so we can harness that knowledge and use it to help drive the West Midlands economy, equip people with the skills required by the employers of today and tomorrow and ultimately improve the region's quality of life."

A sub-group of the commission, called the Productivity Leadership Group and also led by Mr Palmer, will bring together business leaders from the region's three local enterprise partnerships to work to ensure plans to drive productivity are designed by and for local companies.

The group will be advised by experts from across the West Midlands and central government including senior figures in the productivity and skills system and leading academics from the region's universities.

Andrew Cleaves, board director at Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP and a member of the Productivity Leadership Group, said: "We welcome the aims of the commission to identify and understand the full extent of the productivity and skills challenges across the West Midlands.

"It is vital to explore this inter-relationship, particularly in key sectors and for local businesses, so we can create the necessary environment to create jobs and economic growth."

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