20 February 2018
A recent report published by ISG in partnership with research organisation, Centre for Cities, has revealed that urgent action is required in order to tackle the skills shortage in Birmingham.
The new report, which is entitled ‘Train, attract and retain: increasing Birmingham’s skilled workforce’, offers an in-depth analysis of the strength of Birmingham’s skills profile, and concludes that the city’s future economic success depends on policymakers taking wide-ranging action to address its skills gaps.
It reveals that Birmingham faces a number of significant skills challenges, which if left unaddressed will adversely affect the city’s economic growth, and the prosperity of people living and working within it.
The report’s key findings conclude that the city has the highest share of people with no qualifications of any city in the UK, with 16% of working-age residents possessing no formal qualifications, a figure which is twice as high as the national average (8%), and more than any other city in the country.
Birmingham’s schools are also found to be underperforming, but the report highlights that the city is performing better in terms of attracting and retaining students and graduates.
The report offers three key recommendations for policymakers:
• Focus on improving literacy and numeracy among school pupils and improve early-years support for young children in the city, particularly by encouraging greater uptake of the existing early education support for disadvantaged children.
• Give local leaders more power and resource to support residents to access training and gain qualifications.
• Continue to support infrastructure investment and developments to the city centre, to improve the quality of office space for high-skilled firms. This will both attract new highly skilled residents and businesses, and link in existing residents to these jobs.
Wayne Flannery, regional director at ISG, said: “As the UK’s second city, Birmingham has an immense amount to offer, but our wide-ranging report suggests that we aren’t maximising the potential that we have.
“While our universities are a significant pull factor for the city, our schools underperform and we need to urgently address why so many in our communities have no formal qualifications.
“This research is a clarion call for all relevant agencies and institutions to work together, to provide a more robust framework to upskill and retain the talented people that live and work in our city.
“The opportunities for growth and inward investment are self-evident, with major projects like the recently announced £135 million Lunar Rise development, but we need to ensure that we continue to attract the right skills and expertise up and down the supply chain to deliver such ambitious projects.”
Andrew Carter, chief executive of centre for cities, said: “Tackling skills gaps in the city will be crucial in ensuring that its economy can continue to grow, and that more people can share in its success. This should be a top priority for national and local leaders. That means taking steps to improve the performance of schools across the city, to give children and young people the skills they they need to thrive as they get older. It also means putting more focus on adult education and lifelong learning, to help people move into work and access better-paid jobs.
“Finally, the Government should give Mayor Andy Street and local leaders in Birmingham more powers and resources to tackle the city’s skills challenges. Doing so will be crucial in enabling Birmingham to realise its economic potential, which will help to increase prosperity for the millions of people living across the city, and for the country as a whole.”