Driving the local economy of Worcestershire is important, but it is not simple.

In 2010, the new government abolished the old regional development agencies, run by local authorities, and replaced them with local enterprise partnerships, run by businesses.

Here in Wyre Forest, we are members of two – the Worcestershire LEP, and the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP.

Both benefit us, with our local manufacturing base looking north to the car manufacturers (and others), whilst the rest of our economy looks to the rest of Worcestershire.

I met this week with the managers of the Worcestershire LEP. Their vision is both exciting and intelligent.

Key to our county’s attractiveness for future investment is our infrastructure. Whilst once looked at simply as road and rail, internet connectivity is now as important as transport.

We are already running a 5G pilot in Malvern, but it is vital that we prioritise the best quality internet connectivity across the whole country.

Similarly, there are proposals to improve the road network. Importantly for us in Wyre Forest, the proposals around the A38 at Bromsgrove will improve connectivity, including an upgraded rail station at Blakedown (not, it must be said, without local concern).

And with the improved rail stations in both Kidderminster and Blakedown will come better connectivity to Oxford and London with proposals for a faster direct link from Kidderminster to the capital on an improved Cotswolds line.

Indeed, across the county, similar proposals to boost the whole county’s prospects, including investments into town centres. Kidderminster is expected to be a significant beneficiary of the Future High Streets Fund.

However, where we need to think more imaginatively is delivering relevant skills to current and future employers. No matter how brilliant our local broadband, rail and road links are, without the necessary skills, businesses cannot thrive.

So, we are proposing to undertake a comprehensive review of skills needs and skills provisions across the whole county, seeking to find the gaps.

Meeting those skills needs of growing businesses is vital to their prosperity, whilst higher skilled workers benefit in their pay and prospects.

This research will be vital to our further education colleges, working to meet the demands of employers.

Worcestershire is a great county to live, work and bring up a family. But for it to thrive, we need to make sure it is fit to face the changes and challenges of the 21st century.