Express & Star

Do you feel the Midlands is a thriving place to live and work?

The West Midlands has been ranked second worst of the nine English regions in a new study into thriving areas.

Is Wolverhampton and the wider West Midlands thriving?

The Thriving Places Index assesses how local authorities are doing in giving people chances to succeed.

The report by charity Happy City found the West Midlands was 'let down' by its education and learning opportunities - which scored lowest out of all the regions.

However, the Black Country and Staffordshire's 'strong communities' were hailed as a boost for the area.

Black Country LEP board member Ninder Johal said steps were being taken to improve education across the region.

He said: "While we are beginning to make strides towards improving our education and skills, challenges still lie ahead.

"In particular we need skills for a changing world.

"The supply chain between primary schools, secondary schools, further education and universities is broken.

"We have to make an attempt to make sure the education system is fit for the new century and new world that we live in.

"At a West Midlands Combined Authority and Black Country LEP level we're addressing this and are trying to have a dialogue with the DfE to ensure that there's a positive future for all generations that live within the West Midlands."

The survey saw data from 150 local authorities assessed against three main categories – local conditions, sustainability and equality – as well as other measurements including health, education and work.

The West Midlands generally achieved high scores for 'community cohesion' with Dudley, Sandwell, Staffordshire and Walsall all performing particularly well.

The region’s best performance overall was in the area of equality, where it was only beaten by the South West.

But Liz Zeidler, founding director of Happy City, said education was holding the West Midlands back.

Ms Zeidler said: “A thriving economy depends on thriving places. We carried out this analysis to show local authorities that they can learn from one another. "The West Midlands does well when it comes to equality and sustainability but appears to be let down by its education and learning opportunities.

“The analysis reveals patterns which are not shown by measuring just GDP.

"The Index is a practical tool, that can be used right now, to help leaders who want to ensure the sum of their efforts - in every sector - is a better quality of life for people now and in the future.”