Megatrends in the West Midlands: Podcast Series

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What are megatrends? Megatrends are major movements, patterns or trends that have a transformative impact on the economy, business, society, cultures and personal lives.

In a series of podcasts, City-REDI / WMREDI, University of Birmingham examines the impacts of megatrends in the West Midlands, by speaking to a series of experts from the region. We also look at what actions we are taking as a region to adapt to them.

Urban responses to pandemics and economic shocks

In this episode, Liam O’Farrell, a researcher at the University of Sheffield, talks to Claire Spencer, Senior Programme Manager, Inclusive Growth, West Midlands Combined Authority. They discuss inequality in the West Midlands and its exacerbation by Covid-19, ‘left behind’ places, remote working and its impact on cities and finally, what kind of city Birmingham should aim to be.

Listen to the full podcast:

Business and operations

Alice Pugh, City-REDI / WMREDI Policy and Data Analyst talks to Henrietta Brealey, Chief Executive Officer, Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce about business and operations in the West Midlands. They discuss some of the megatrends accelerated by Covid-19, including:

  • Hybrid working and its impact on productivity, innovation and footfall in city centres. 
  • The need for city centres to adapt to the rise of online shopping. 
  • The impact of automation and digitisation on business and its workforce. 
  • Supply chains and the rise of online attacks. 
  • Climate change and the green agenda. 

Listen to the full podcast:

Future Mobility

Dr Magda Cepeda Zorrilla discusses future mobility in the West Midlands with Mike Water, Director of Policy, Strategy & Innovation, Transport for West Midlands (TFWM).

They discuss:

  • The rise in homeworking since the pandemic and its impact on regional transport.
  • How TFWM has responded to covid-19.
  • The 15-minute city and the 20-minute neighbourhood.
  • Funding for transport in the West Midlands and involving the public in how the funds are spent.
  • The electrification of transport and tackling congestion.
  • The move towards sustainable transportation and living in the West Midlands.

Listen to the full podcast:

Work and skills

Dr Abigail Taylor discusses work and skills in the West Midlands with Dr Fiona Aldridge, Head of Insight – Economic Delivery, Skills and Communities, WMCA.

Topics include:

  • The impact of digitisation and automation on work and learning.
  • Developing broader digital skills and confidence in using technology.
  • Digital exclusion.
  • What Covid-19 has revealed to us about priorities for upskilling and reskilling.
  • Policy priorities for the WMCA.
  • The importance of place when developing policies that address skills and employment challenges.
  • The role of universities in upskilling and reskilling.
  • The collaboration between regional partners and the national government.
  • Devolution.

Megatrends project

This podcast is part of a larger project looking at Megatrends in the West Midlands. Megatrends are major movements or patterns or trends that are having a transformative impact on business, economy, society, cultures and personal lives. The project examines some of these megatrends in a series of provocations, podcasts and a report.


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