Transport infrastructure, education and innovation are the key to moving upmarket
Cities are helped – not hindered – by links with neighboring cities, according to our new report from the Northern Powerhouse Partnership.
He adds that the leveling of northern cities must aim to help local populations access skilled and well-paid jobs in order to increase wages and productivity, mainly through delegation to metro mayors to invest in them. transport infrastructure, education and skills, as well as government-backed innovation.
The report presents Siemens Mobility’s work at Goole as a great example of an upgrade, putting the rail in the center and showing its potential contribution.
After establishing a rail manufacturing plant in the city, Siemens Mobility worked to increase STEM engagement in immediate primary schools, invested in R&D, and created new jobs.
The report states that “this approach to developing a long-term talent pool is to be welcomed.”
Overall, the report looked at the economies of Bury in Greater Manchester, Goole on the Humber, and Blyth in the North East, three locations each with their own unique economic strengths and challenges.
Since the 2019 general election, there have been significant political discussions about how to improve the plight of so-called ‘left behind’ towns such as Workington. Much has focused on short-term, superficial changes that address the problems of these cities in isolation – rather than in the context of their larger urban region.
Transport connectivity, such as the Metrolink tram in Bury or Goole’s vantage point on the M62 corridor, has been shown to have played a critical role in connecting people to employment opportunities, while helping businesses tap into a larger talent pool.
The average weekly wage for someone working full-time in Bury was Â£ 532 in 2020, higher than the Â£ 491 earned by workers in the nearby town of Rochdale, but significantly lower than the Â£ 600 per week earned by those working in Manchester.
However, the picture changes when we look at those who live rather than work in these places. Full-time workers who live in Bury earn an average of Â£ 591 per week, compared to Â£ 509 for residents of Rochdale and Â£ 538 for residents of central Manchester, indicating that many residents of Bury commute out of the city, in many cases towards the center. Manchester, to higher productivity and better paying jobs.
Improving education and skill levels have also been found to be key to opening up opportunities for local people, both in their hometowns and in the wider city region.
Meanwhile, the green energy revolution represents a huge economic opportunity for Blyth – but it depends on the local population acquiring the skills to take on jobs in sectors such as offshore wind, as well as ‘greater investment in R&D and a better rail connection to Newcastle.
Bruntwood Chief Strategy Officer Jessica Bowles said, âUpgrading is as much about focusing on our left-behind cities as it is on our inner cities. It is only by mobilizing their combined strengths that we can reduce regional inequalities.
âThere is almost limitless potential in our cities waiting to be unlocked with the power of this agglomeration. It will involve pooling the existing strengths of the city with each other, developing them, and then better linking them to neighboring cities.
âCommunities within our cities also have a bigger role to play in their future. The pride and desire of people to see their cities prosper is a powerful tool that can be harnessed by strong local leadership.
âThis report provides an essential blueprint for achieving this vision. This is important work in the larger context of Leveling Up, and it shows that the North knows what is needed to solve its challenges. Now we just need Whitehall to listen.
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