A region by region look at working in HR in the UK. This month we look at the North West
Inward investment on the rise as area adapts
The latest research paints a healthy picture for the North West. Employment is steadily growing, and unemployment has been shrinking fairly consistently since 2001.
In July 2003, the seasonally-adjusted employment rate was up by 1.7 per cent to 73.6 per cent, with unemployment down by 0.6 per cent to 4.9 per cent.
The gross domestic product for the area was £75.8bn in 1998, but this figure has declined per head against the national average and is now below most of the other regions.
Business start-ups are steadily increasing, and the DTI has published and funded a business strategy for the North West - Opportunity for all in a world of change - backed by a £913m Government investment to improve local transport and meet the needs of business.
The economy is swinging slightly towards high or medium technology and service roles, although manufacturing is still a major player.
Although many jobs have been lost in this sector, it is still a huge employer, and the Manufacturing Institute recently presented a business strategy to the Government.
Bryan Gray, chairman of the Northwest Development Agency, says: "Manufacturing is a key economic driver in the area, employing 430,000 people and accounting for 25 per cent of GDP, which is significantly more than the national average of 20 per cent."
Chris Gorton, North West Chair of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), has 20 years experience in the region, and says the area has never had a more diverse mix of firms.
"There is a strong economy around the M62 and M65 corridors, but manufacturing and chemicals have seen some major lay-offs," he says. "The food industry and service sector are particularly buoyant and are the real growth areas for employment."
Lynn Clarke, chair of the Manchester branch of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) , says the region is experiencing a huge upturn in investment.
"Manchester especially is really buoyant at the moment. There are lots of new buildings and companies, which means more opportunities. The regeneration that's taking place is having a knock-on effect on employment," she says.
Clarke, whose CIPD branch is one of the la