Despite higher living costs, southern cities such as Oxford and Exeter lead the country on opportunities for people with low skills
• People with few or no qualifications less likely to be unemployed in southern cities
• High-skilled industries create more progression opportunities for low-skilled people
• Calls to devolve post-EU funding to cities to increase growth in urban areas dependent on low-skilled industries
Centre for Cities’ new research on low-skilled workers has found that employment opportunities are greater for people with few or no qualifications in southern English cities than those in the North or Midlands.
The report Opportunity Knocks? found that, despite higher living costs in cities in southern England, their stronger economies create significantly more jobs for people with fewer qualifications. For every 10 high-skilled jobs in a city, 17 further jobs for low-skilled people are created as a result, such as those in shops or restaurants.
This has three implications for lower-skilled people:
The tables below illustrate these trends:
|Cities with the lowest unemployment rate for low-skilled people|
|Rank||City||Low-skilled unemployment rate, 2011 (%)||Share of low-skilled workers in higher-skilled jobs, 2011 (%)||Total share of high-skilled jobs in the local economy, 2017 (%)|
|Cities with the highest unemployment rate for low-skilled people|
|Rank||City||Low-skilled unemployment rate (%)||Share of low-skilled workers in higher-skilled jobs, 2011 (%)||Total share of high-skilled jobs in the local economy, 2017 (%)|
The report sets out three areas of focus for policymakers to create sustainable, long-term and inclusive economic growth.
First, devolve control over the Shared Prosperity Fund to Britain’s city leaders to use their local knowledge to better direct spending according to local need.
Second, prioritise investment in education, particularly adult education. At a national level, this means better funding further education colleges, while at a local level there needs to be a drive to increase take-up of courses.
Third, improve low-skilled workers’ living standards in economically successful cities. The Government should continue its reform of the planning system to build more homes where they are least affordable. And cities should make use of the Transforming Cities Fund to improve public transport in their areas to better link people to jobs.
Commenting on the report, Centre for Cities’ Chief Executive Andrew Carter said:
“Politicians to the left and right of the political spectrum talk about supporting inclusive growth. The message of this report is clear: growing cities’ overall economies is a prerequisite for creating inclusive growth.
“This cannot be achieved with a one-size-fits-all approach. The Government should, therefore, entrust city leaders to spend money from Shared Prosperity Fund on economic interventions that best suit their local areas’ need – be it adult education, infrastructure or affordable homes.
“While the findings do indicate a North-South divide this is not uniform. In the north cities such as York, Preston and Warrington are also offering low-skill people a share in relative inclusive growth.”