Improving the quality of life for everyone

Addressing health and social challenges through the Local Industrial Strategy will help improve productivity, wellbeing and growth, says Roger Marsh OBE, Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, in his latest column for the Yorkshire Post

Improving the quality of life for everyone across Leeds City Region is fundamental to the work of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (the LEP) – it’s the thread that runs through everything we do. 

We want skilled, productive people, with access to training to take them on to the next step in their careers. Successful employers that provide good quality jobs and invest in their workforce. Modern infrastructure that makes it easy for communities to live and work in the region, and an environment that promotes healthy, active lifestyles and is fit for future generations to enjoy. These are real and tangible outcomes that we set out to achieve in the ambitious Local Industrial Strategy we are developing. 

Inclusivity is at the heart of our Local Industrial Strategy. Since beginning of the year, we have engaged with over 750 people at more than 50 events in person and online, working closely with partners from across the region. We’ve visited schools and community groups, met with SMEs and big business, debated with national experts and politicians, all in a bid to understand what matters to the people who should benefit from our work and where the Local Industrial Strategy can make a difference.

I feel strongly that young people should be involved in creating the Local Industrial Strategy. Those whom we have spoken to have strong views about the changing world of work, what they want from the place they call home, and they want to play a crucial part in any change that will impact on their future, whether that’s giving people more opportunities to be creative and innovate, or enhancing active travel as a viable alternative to cars on the roads. 

Working with our colleagues at the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Enterprise Partnership, we have brought together an independent expert panel to review our evidence and provide advice, as well as commissioning in-depth research to examine our productivity gap, how we can further promote innovation, clean and inclusive growth, and a detailed look at two of our key sectors: health technology and clean technology.

We are also participating in the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program (MIT REAP) to learn from international peers how new technology can help accelerate economic growth and social progress for the benefit of all.  

By engaging with this wide and diverse range of individuals and organisations, we’ve identified clear themes for the policies that that will make up the Local Industrial Strategy, with healthy lives as one of its central pillars. Our industrial heritage has created a legacy of health and social challenges we need to address, and doing so will be a driver of productivity, wellbeing and growth.

We want everyone to aspire to live healthy lives with greater earning power through better, more flexible skills and a fair, progressive employment market. Building on the work of the Future-Ready Skills Commission, supported by the LEP and West Yorkshire Combined Authority, we seek greater local powers over the education and skills systems so we can better direct resources where employers need them and help people to develop skills that benefit the local economy.

We also need to do more to increase productivity, competitiveness and spending on research and development among our region’s businesses. Our Local Industrial Strategy will make it easier and clearer for businesses to find the support they need, regardless of the route they take to find it. We will also do more to bring together our businesses and universities, and support businesses that have the potential to grow. These measures will help increase our contribution towards the national goal of spending 2.4% of GDP on research and development by 2027.

The region is in the unique position of being a world leader in healthcare technology, with four out of five NHS national offices, public- and private-sector healthcare data platforms, the UK’s largest concentration of medical device companies, and world-leading life sciences clusters. Harnessing these distinctive assets could address the health issues people in our region face, lead to new treatments, and help us play a full role in solving national and global challenges like the ageing population.

Over the coming weeks we will test these priorities with our partners and stakeholders. Businesses and residents will also have an opportunity to have their say on the contents of the Local Industrial Strategy during the autumn. We are on track to submit our strategy to Government by the end of the year, with the final strategy agreed and published in spring 2020. In doing so, the Local Industrial Strategy will be a transformational strategy delivered in partnership.

This article originally appeared on the Yorkshire Post