Colors: Purple Color

Over three-quarters of women working part-time in Birmingham Northfield earn less than the Living Wage – the highest proportion in West Midlands – according to new analysis published by the TUC to mark Part-time Equal Pay Day. Across the region, over two in five part-time women’s jobs pay less than the Living Wage. But TUC analysis of official figures shows that earning less than the Living Wage is the norm for women part-time workers in 13 of the West Midlands’ Parliamentary constituencies.

The research, of 250 small business owners, identified the top 3 sought advice topics that small business owners felt would help them to continue to grow and have a competitive edge over their larger competitors. Nearly a quarter of small businesses (24%) felt that advice on technology would give them a competitive advantage over similar companies and more importantly save them money on processes, long term.

The number one reason people leave their jobs is to seek out opportunities with a better work life balance, reveals new research. With unique access to employees when they leave a company via exit interviews, nearly a third (30%) of HR directors identified the attraction of a better work life balance is what really drives people to switch jobs.

Trading Standards in Sandwell are now using sniffer dogs to detect illegal tobacco. Raids by Sandwell Trading Standards have uncovered 160,000 cigarettes and 61kg of tobacco worth around £100,000.  The illegal products were seized at premises across Sandwell by officers working with highly trained tobacco detection dogs to sniff out illegal tobacco.

A grant scheme that helps businesses across the West Midlands invest in innovative new products has been hailed a success by an independent evaluation. Successfully managed by Birmingham City Council, the Business Innovation Programme (BIP) is an £8.7m programme of business support, part funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). It is expected to create and safeguard over 600 jobs, significantly over its target of 350.

The foremost organisation representing the timber trade in the UK has officially signed up to support WWF-UK’s Forest Campaign, allowing the campaign’s sustainability message to reach much of the UK’s timber industry. The 300 members of the Timber Trade Federation account for two thirds of the £8.9 billion UK timber industry. They range from sawmills to manufacturers, and from to distributors and retailers.

The International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) is deeply concerned about the trial of 2012 Courage in Journalism Award Winner, Azerbaijani journalist Khadija Ismayilova, in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku. After a month-long trial where journalists and independent observers were barred from the courtroom, prosecutors concluded their case against Ismayilova today and are planning to present their sentencing request on Friday, according to latest news reports.

An £8 million facelift to four high-rise blocks in West Bromwich is now complete. Tenants living in Beaconview, Broome, Stanton and Sheapecoate Houses on Charlemont Farm have seen their homes transformed over a two-year period. External improvements including new roofs, insulated cladding, windows and balcony doors have given the blocks a new lease of life. Internally each flat has new electrical rewiring, heating and ventilation systems and a new front door.

Birmingham will be the location for the highly anticipated National Franchise Exhibition this autumn, which is set to attract thousands of aspiring business owners. 2014 was a fantastic year for entrepreneurship in the UK which saw a total of 581,173 new businesses launched, with Birmingham leading the way. 18,337 new businesses were registered in Birmingham in 2014 making it the UK’s most entrepreneurial city outside London.

Nine budding entrepreneurs are turning ideas into reality thanks to funding from a council-backed scheme. The Sandwell Entrepreneur Programme offers financial help and general support to people who come up with business ideas that also tackle social issues. One of the winners Michael Sinclair is setting up a service of affordable sporting activities for residents, while Jayde Lewis will give support to isolated older people in hospital.

Matt Hammond has been appointed regional chairman of PwC in the Midlands, heading up over 2,000 staff in the firm’s Birmingham, Castle Donington and Milton Keynes offices. He takes over from Mark Smith as chairman of PwC’s Midlands practice and senior partner for the Birmingham office. Mark has led the regional practice, which has delivered record results under his leadership, for the last seven years.

The elite of British engineering have grabbed a ‘bank vault’ of medals and ‘done their nation proud’ - at the Skills ‘Olympics ‘WorldSkills 2015 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. In a stellar night for Semta’s engineering Team UK no less than 10 of the 12-person squad won medals – the highest in the competition’s history. Alex Elton, aged 21, from Nuneaton, picked up a coveted Medallion of Excellence – proving him to be among the very best CNC Turners in the World.