As the much debated recovery gathers momentum – latest employment figures show 40,000 new jobs were created in the West Midlands in just three months to March – spare a thought for the plight of academia.
The region may be leading the way in job creation, but little of that would appear to be filtering down to the education sector.
That's hardly surprising following years of endlessly documented austerity cuts, but there's scant sign of any relief from the pain for staff.
Here in Birmingham, the latest job cuts to emerge in the higher education sector involve a total of 108 academics and support staff at the University of Birmingham thought to be at risk of redundancy.
It is, by common consent, the university's largest-scale redundancy programme in living memory, with a total of 49 staff in neuroscience and pharmacology at the medical school and 59 engineering staff said to be at risk.
The pain is not restricted to Selly Oak and its environs. At Aston, up to 100 workers are also said to be at risk of redundancy, including administrative roles at the business school, its school of languages and social sciences, the school of engineering and applied sciences, and other areas.
Meanwhile, up to 250 members of staff at Birmingham Metropolitan College, one of the largest of its type in the city following the merger of Matthew Boulton and Sutton College, have been targeted for potential redundancy. Andrew Cleaves, principal and chief executive, has spoken of the need to "reduce costs significantly".
Late last year, Bournville College announced that agency staff were being axed, while permanent staff were sought for voluntary redundancy. A spokeswoman said the £66 million college, which opened its doors just three years ago after relocating from Selly Oak to its new site in Longbridge, was suffering ‘financial challenges.'
And researchers, lecturers and support staff at the University of Warwick's Medical School and School of Life Sciences were warned last summer that their departments were under-performing financially, with sources suggesting the university was aiming to save £1.6 million.
That's just a few random examples of the difficulties facing some universities and colleges in the West Midlands at a time when the Government is still trying to balance the books and reduce the nation's budget deficit.
As ever, the key here is money, or lack of it to be precise. As Andrew Cleaves, of Birmingham Metropolitan College, said back in April: "Government funding has reduced by a third in recent years and greater competition in the sector, combined with demographic factors, has put pressure on student numbers.
"These conditions have highlighted the need to focus on efficiency, by reducing costs where we can and improving the way we do things."
But scratch the surface of the latest tale of apparent woes from the University of Birmingham – our most high-profile centre of learning – and a rather disturbing picture emerges.
The University and College Union says 108 staff have been placed at risk of redundancy at a time when the average annual salaries of senior academic managerial staff are a cool £154,000, compared to the UK average of £79,000.
The union says its members are under threat at a time when the university is spending more than £300 million on new buildings, including a new library and sports facilities.
Some of the staff at risk are said to be high-calibre scientists who have brought in millions of pounds of grant money. But it's not enough for the powers that be apparently.
I spoke to an insider, unconnected with the staff under threat or UCU, who talked of an oppressive regime headed by an elite determined to leave a monument for future generations, but at the expense of their workforce, or at least some of them.
That elite is, in the eyes of the informant, viewing highly-skilled academics, including some of professorial rank, purely through the prism of income generation.
"There is very little mention of teaching. Teaching is continually being devalued. They want to turn the University of Birmingham into a global-leading university, they want to deliver an elite university, and they are doing that at the expense of their staff."
As the UCU later said: "The members of staff placed at risk of redundancy, however, contributed substantially to teaching, have brought in more than £8 million grant money and have published more than 350 research papers over the last five years. We are at a loss to understand how this can be seen as inadequate performance. This creates an atmosphere of fear as no one can feel their jobs are safe any more."
A university spokesperson, pointing out the plans aim to focus investment in growth areas, said the actual number of redundancies would be "very small" adding it takes its responsibilities as an employer very seriously.
In a recent article, Heather Paver, the director of human resources at the University of Birmingham, talked of ‘unlocking the potential of a leading global university' and a Sustainable Excellence Strategy, fine words, if predictably couched in the usual dry as dust corporate speak.
Ms Paver added: "To remain sustainable, we aim to reduce our cost-base and increase income," clearly a potentially combustible combination for academics at the coalface.
Ms Paver and her fellow bigwigs at the University of Birmingham may yet achieve their dream, and catapult the campus into the global stratosphere of higher education.
But any educational regime which favours research income over academic excellence, and threatens skilled lecturers with the sack if they are not delivering the financial goods, may yet live to regret its lofty ambitions, even in these times of ongoing austerity.