The West Midlands has the worst skills shortage in the UK and media training may be key to its survival as manufacturing declines, the former head of the CBI will say today.
Sir Digby Jones, speaking at the launch of the West Midlands media literacy strategy, will say that the region's workforce needs to develop skills found in the creative sector if it was to compete internationally.
The strategy - which is the first of its kind in the UK - will look at how media training could be used to improve the region's poor literacy and numeracy rates and stop the 'digital divide' - where those without communication and IT skills are unable to compete for jobs.
Speaking before the event Sir Digby, who was appointed Skills Envoy by the government in December, said: "Britain's successful move to a value-added, innovative economy has no better exam-ple than the hugely dynamic growth of the media sector.
"So many different career opportunities are available to young people but not a single job will be on offer unless the people are skilled, firstly, with a general grounding of basic skills including communication, presentation and work ethic but also the added-value skills which will enable the sector to go from strength to strength."
According to to the National Employer Skills Survey by the Learning and Skills Council, the West Midlands has the worst skill shortages in the UK and is the main reason for employment difficulties in the region.
The LSC's Working Futures report also predicts that 90,000 new jobs will be created in the region by 2014.
Most of these will be at higher skilled - above NVQ level two - with the number of low skilled jobs expected to be slashed. Michael Ryan, media cluster manager for LSC in the West Midlands, said: "At the moment the West Midlands does not have the right skills to compete in a modern economy.
"We really have to up our game over the next few years if we are going to turn that around and media literacy is part of that.
"There are many people leaving school at 16 years old who do not have enough skills and you can't simply force them back into the education system they left.
"Many of these people react positively to the creativity of introductory media courses and, even if they do not get a job in the creative industries, they develop the IT and communication skills needed for employment elsewhere."
The strategy, to be launched at Birmingham's Orange Studios, hopes to promote training in further and higher education, as well as in schools. It hopes to develop the region as a world leader in media literacy.