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Worcestershire project set to be first in the UK
7:50pm Wednesday 9th October 2013 in News
CHILDREN and young people in Worcestershire can look forward to a brighter future thanks to a project which is believed to be the first of its kind in the UK.
Worcestershire Next Generation, a project set up by leaders from local businesses, voluntary, community and public sector organisations, aims to secure the county’s future prosperity, community and environment by 2040.
Although the county currently has high levels of employment, economic growth and life expectancies, the project recognises that Worcestershire will not stay so prosperous unless action is taken now.
Next Generation is looking to other community leaders to work together to deliver the project’s 25 commitments, aimed at preserving the quality of life to 2040 and beyond.
With local planning typically based on five-year cycles, it is this long-term vision that makes Worcestershire Next Generation a ground-breaking project.
But there are challenges ahead, driven by economic and environmental change as well as the changing nature of society.
Paul Walker, managing director of Malvern Instruments, said: “Worcestershire over the past 10 years has been a prosperous place to live and work.
"Fewer people are unemployed compared to the national average and more people are self-employed. People live longer in Worcestershire and we’re healthier too. But we won’t stay prosperous and have the quality of life we value today unless we act.
“Building a strong economy is our number one concern. Without new jobs and opportunities, our next generation may be forced to leave Worcestershire and search out those opportunities elsewhere, and we won’t have the money to invest in other things that make for the good life in Worcestershire – our community and environment.”
Worcestershire Next Generation aims to use the experience of thriving businesses like Malvern Instruments to attract more businesses to the county, securing its future prosperity and offering skilled work to future generations.
Founded in the early 1970s in Malvern, the business designs and manufactures scientific instruments which measure the physical and chemical properties of materials in a diverse range of industries.
Today, Malvern Instruments employs a workforce of about 300 at its global manufacturing and commercial headquarters in Malvern, and more than 700 people worldwide.
Worcestershire Next Generation also plans to build upon the already strong links between the University of Worcester and local businesses to offer the right sort of training and development so employers have ready access to skilled workers.
Project leaders have engaged with young people, including discussions with the Worcestershire Youth Cabinet, while Worcestershire’s Takeover Day in November saw young people take over the county’s top jobs for a day and provide input to how they saw the vision of the Next Generation.
Craig Bateman, aged 16, a member of the Worcestershire Youth Cabinet, said: “What makes Worcestershire different is that it has a lot of potential. I know this from my experience with Worcestershire Youth Cabinet since my election in March 2013.
“I also know that Worcestershire is full of people, from a whole range of backgrounds, fields and industries who are deeply passionate about where they live and want to create a sustainable future that is rewarding both for them and their families.
"That is why we at Worcestershire Youth Cabinet are delighted to be involved in Worcestershire Next Generation to ensure that today’s young people – the next generation – have good futures in Worcestershire where they enjoy working, living and engaging. But this challenge also lies in our, the ordinary citizens’ hands too.”
Councillor Adrian Hardman, leader of Worcestershire County Council, said: “What was clear from young people was that our economy, well-being and natural environment cannot be viewed independently but rather as part of a whole contributing to a good quality of life.
"They reflect the view of all age groups in valuing a sense of belonging to the area across our mix of rural areas, villages and town and across different groups too.”
Worcestershire Next Generation is now looking to other community leaders to work together to deliver the 25 commitments, and start an online conversation about which commitments are most important to them, what will change in their organisations as a result of the project and how others can help them contribute to these important changes.
Coun Hardman said: “The good news is that there are already lots of great things happening right now in Worcestershire that are part of our exciting future. No one organisation could make these things happen, but if all leaders act together we have the power to succeed.
"Examples of this include getting extra resources for our areas of great deprivation to opening the Hive; Europe’s first joint university and public library. These things would have been impossible to deliver individually.”
Leaders are being asked to log on to wearethenextgeneration.co.uk or search for ‘Worcestershire Next Generation’ on Facebook and Twitter.
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