Revitalising the North East

CIPD’s North East branch has played a vital role in the economic regeneration
of the region, providing solutions to develop the skills of the local workforce.  By Ross Wigham

north east of England has endured such a period of economic and social change
over the past few years that certain parts of the region are almost
unrecognisable from just a decade ago.

has been the watchword as the area struggled out of an industrial decline and a
moribund economic framework towards a more vibrant, modern and high skills

with other parts of Northern England the area is still in the midst of major
change but for the first time recently, the North East attracted more talent
than it exported – a feat not achieved for many years.

massive transformation requires careful management and from a people
perspective the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s (CIPD) North
East branch is one of the country’s busiest.

Rankin, the CIPD’s North East branch chair has played an important role in
shaping the region’s workforce, which is varied in terms of job type and spread
over a large geographical area.

last month’s AGM, Rankin was elected to serve a third year and, along with 20
committee members, will continue to head up one of the busiest and most
challenging branches in the country.

branch has around 2,500 members and because of the large number of universities
in the catchment area is also very popular with HR students.

meet on a monthly basis and we’ve had a very busy year. Every member receives a
monthly newsletter, access to two events every month and we’ve really tried to
encourage continuous personal development – that’s been a real drive for this
year," she said.

explained that the branch is taking an increasingly proactive role in the area’s
change process and although much has been achieved, there are still many
challenges ahead.

North East differs from many other parts of the country in at least two
respects. First, it’s a very complex area that contains vibrant and successful
commercial areas but also places of social deprivation and rural isolation,
where job opportunities and skills development can be limited.

still have the legacy of heavy engineering and manufacturing and therefore need
to attract and sustain new industries. The development and progression from
low, through medium, to high-level skills in all areas is crucial to the area’s
economic success," she said.

and high profile projects like the Sage music centre and the Millennium Bridge,
both part of the rebuilt Newcastle-Gateshead quayside, have been potent symbols
of the area’s rebirth, but rising employment levels and better quality jobs
have been of more substance.

believes her focus on skills is fundamental to future success when it comes to
attracting the best employers to the North East and ensuring they are properly
served by the local workforce.

were one of the first branches to develop a training and development group,
which helps our members network and share best practice and the latest
management thinking. The feedback from the profession has been really positive
and we’re hoping to do more work in this area," she adds.

to recent statistics, 28 per cent of people in the region suffer from numeracy problems,
compared with 24 per cent across the rest of the country, and the CIPD is keen
to tackle the issue, as it is widely thought to contribute to productivity

well as her branch chair role, Rankin is also an official skills champion for the
Get On North East Campaign, which is designed to help employers in the area
drive up numeracy and literacy levels. This involves spreading the word around
the HR community, promoting skills development and explaining the training
available through the campaign, which is paid for by the Learning and Skills

wants to continue this direct approach and believes that by working with other
government organisations HR can really contribute to the local skills agenda.

of the key challenges will be working with other government agencies such as
the LSC, the Government Office and Business Links to develop the skills of the
region’s workforce. We can do this as a branch by corresponding with our
members on skills issues," she said.

branch also hopes to establish a skills strategy group to work with major
employers on improved training and development. This would utilise the skills
of senior HR committee members within the group who are already members of
bodies such as the LSC, the engineering sector skills council and enterprise

joint campaign with the LSC, Young People Mean Business, is now in its second
year and is designed as an awards ceremony for employers that actively recruit
and develop youngsters in the region.

at the branch’s AGM, Frances Pett the CIPD’s branch development manager, said
other regions should follow the more pro-active approach. "The North East
is one of the busiest and most proactive branches we have. We want the branch
network to be of practical use to our members, really supporting people and
helping students through their qualifications," she said.

North East

The CIPD’s North East branch has 2,500 members

The branch covers the counties of Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, County Durham
and the Tees Valley

The area has a workforce of around 1.1 million

Unemployment is currently around 5. 3 per cent

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