Belfast is a Partner City in the Centre for Cities research programme ‘Unlocking City Potential and Sustaining City Growth’. The programme works closely with a small group of cities to inform economic development strategies and improve economic performance. This report sets out policy analysis and recommendations in response to two principal questions:
- What can Belfast do to tackle concentrations of worklessness within the city?
- How can Belfast build on a decade of growth to encourage private enterprise in the city economy?
The two questions are interrelated – residents’ long-term employment and progression prospects will only be improved by creating the conditions for sustainable growth of key sectors.
Belfast City Council needs to strengthen the position of Greater Belfast as the driver of growth in the Northern Ireland economy, with closer cross-boundary collaboration across Greater Belfast. In particular:
- Belfast City Council should pilot a City Strategy approach to worklessness across Greater Belfast, including an Employment and Skills Board, in order to better coordinate policies so that residents in deprived areas are not bypassed by growth.
- To rebalance the private and public sectors, Belfast City Council and Invest Northern Ireland need to streamline business support and enterprise offers to encourage a more dynamic private sector in the city.
- Belfast City Council and Invest Northern Ireland need to develop growth strategies for key sectors that provide real growth opportunities for the economy – such as software – and that provide potential for jobs growth – such as tourism.