Birmingham can be at the forefront of “a scientific renaissance” as plans to create a life sciences hub start to be realised, says Education Minister Michael Gove.
The Secretary of State for Education backed the city’s plans to create thousands of well-paid, highly-skilled positions in life sciences, as it has untapped expertise in its universities.
The Post has reported in recent weeks that dozens of firms from around the country have expressed an interest in being based in the city on the back of millions invested in a life sciences quarter.
Speaking to the Post on a visit to a city school, Mr Gove said: “I had the opportunity to ask the students what they loved about Birmingham, they replied with diversity, culture, and that it has been a home of innovation and scientific creativity throughout its history.
“Birmingham has centres of excellence in its universities which will reflect the fact that it is at the front of a scientific renaissance which will bring jobs and growth to the city and the whole West Midlands.”
The West Midlands has over 500 medical technology companies, more than any other UK region, but Council Leader Sir Albert Bore said in a global marketplace it was vital to think ahead.
However, a new £6.8 million biomedical hub at the University of Birmingham and medical research campus to be built in Selly Oak indicate wider plans for the city.
Managing director of Skills for Birmingham, Rachel Maclean, who was also on the visit to the St Thomas Aquinas school in Kings Norton, agreed it was an area Birmingham could compete internationally in.
Ms Maclean, who is standing for the Conservative Party in Birmingham Northfield in the General Election, said: “We are a world leader in a number of fields with business investment in the new Life Sciences hub and Warwick University’s collaboration in the automotive industry. Businesses are saying we want to be in Birmingham, relocate here and move our staff here.
“It’s not just government investment but business investment and confidence that we are seeing in spades.”
Meanwhile, Mr Gove said the Government planned to introduce performance measures showing the destinations of pupils after leaving school.
This would show how many former pupils went on to university or further studying and also indicate how many were so-called Neets – not in education, employment or training.
Mr Gove has previously said he wanted such a measure to be part of school performance tables before the end of this Parliament.
He told the Post: “We’re introducing something called destination measures which means schools will be accountable for whether or not students get jobs and stay in jobs, get apprenticeships and stay in them or attend college.
“Because students have a wide range of talents and for some the real measure of success is finding a job, staying in that job and prospering and I think it’s a way of rewarding schools for making the right choices for individual students.”
He added that he was freeing up schools to be able to reward the best teachers with better pay.