A refreshed regional Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) reveals a confident region that is ahead of its ten-year target to create 100,000 new and better jobs by 2024.
The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has worked with the business community and partners across the region to refresh the SEP for 2017 – “to better reflect a changing business and political landscape dominated by Brexit and the challenges of globalisation”.
Presented to business leaders at a recent meeting in the NewcastleGateshead Hilton Hotel, it was an opportunity to hear about the progress of the regional economy since the original SEP was published in 2014, and the goals of the new document.
The SEP sets out how the region can build on its recent successes and continue to create more and better jobs for the region.
Keynote speakers Sarah Green (CBI director of member relations and regions and nations), John Cridland (chair of Transport for the North), and Professor Sir John Holman of the Gatsby Foundation, gave their support to the refreshed plan.
The highlights of the SEP are:
· The North East is ahead of schedule to reach its 100,000 more and better jobs target before 2024 – over 53,000 jobs have been created since 2014, with 63 per cent of these classed as higher skilled jobs
· Stretching targets to have 70 per cent of new jobs created over the next seven years in more skilled posts
· Digital technology, advanced manufacturing, healthcare innovation, energy, service sector and quality business space are the business sectors identified as underpinning a surge in new regional employment
· Job growth increased at a rate of 6.6 per cent over the past two years eclipsing the national rate of 5.4 per cent in England
· The North East is a £37bn economy, employing 865,000 people
However, key challenges remain – delivering higher regional productivity is essential as the gap widens with national performance, while economic exclusion remains a persistent concern in some parts of the region. And this of course is amid the uncertainties caused by Brexit.
Andrew Hodgson, North East LEP chair, welcomed the Government’s commitment to a strengthened Industrial Strategy, working to diversify the economic structure of the UK by focusing on economic development outside the South East.
He said that the refreshed SEP provides a solid foundation to ensure the North East is in a strong position to bid for new investment in future.
“As well as refreshing our delivery plan, we have also revised our key targets. Our aim will be to reach our target of 100,000 more and better jobs early and stretch that further. Given the need to address the productivity challenge, it is particularly encouraging that the percentage of better jobs created has reached 63 per cent, already ahead of our original target.”
Sarah Green said: “The North East business community has fully endorsed the refreshed SEP which drew heavily on business input during its consultation process. The CBI places huge importance on regional growth to fuel national economic performance.”