Latest Public Sector News

12.07.12

Top and bottom cities today same as in 1901

The long-term economic wellbeing of cities is dependent on investment in citizens’ skills and professional qualifications, new research suggests.

The Centre for Cities think tank found that the places with the highest numbers of well-trained and educated residents in 1901 are among the best performing places today and vice versa.

This could have significant implications for policy decisions, the authors suggest, and they urge government investment in literacy, numeracy and IT to ensure our cities’ future success.

Seven out of eight of the best performing cities today, includingOxfordandLondon, had above average skills levels in 1901 and 80% of modern cities with struggling economies, such asMiddlesbroughand Stoke, were in the bottom 20 cities for skills levels in 1901.

The figures were collated using census data and national statistics. The health of economies was assessed in 2010 using a range of factors including economic output, growth in private sector jobs, unemployment and wages. Skills levels in 1901 were based on numbers in professional occupations such as banking, insurance, accountancy, as well as merchants, and commercial and business clerks.

Authors state that the research “illustrates that short-term cuts in expenditure on the policies that support cities to boost skills, from education to transport infrastructure, are likely to result in a big bill for government in the medium to longer term”.

Alexandra Jones, chief executive of Centre for Cities, said: “History tells us that failure to invest in city economies has long-term effects for theUKeconomy. The Government needs to preference the policies that support cities to grow – the research shows that skills and transport in particular can shape the economic health of a city.

“Ensuring the education system prepares children for the world of work when they leave school is vital for those children and for the future health of theUKeconomy.”

To view the full report, visit: www.centreforcities.org/assets/files/2012/12-07-10_Cities_Outlook_1901.pdf

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