Skills needed to beat ‘low economic activity’

By Gavin McEwan   |   Local Democracy Reporter   |
Thursday 17th February 2022 9:09 am
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Herefordshire “has one of the lowest levels of economic activity in the country”, local MP Jesse Norman has told an online policy debate.

Conservative think tank Policy Exchange held the event in response to the publishing of the Government’s Levelling Up White Paper last week.

The MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire said: “There simply isn’t enough capital in the county to deliver a sensible levelling up agenda.

“What we have done is try to build a long-term strategy based on skills-based higher education and put a new model of a university [NMITE] at the centre of that.

“There’s a kind of energy that’s created which is infectious in the Marches, and is potentially a model for elsewhere in the country.”

The MP has been a champion of Hereford’s NMITE, the New Model Institute for Technology and Engineering, since its inception five years ago. It took on its first cohort of about 40 students in September.

Mr Norman compared the institute’s role with that of the University of Lincoln, founded in the 1990s. “It really took off after 2010, and now it makes a contribution to the national economy of hundreds of millions of pounds a year,” he said.

“Skills are more correlated with growth (than infrastructure), and it’s skills that will drive long-term productivity,” he added.

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