Current investment in infrastructure and technology will underpin future economic success in Birmingham, a major report published today (Friday, 12 October) has revealed.
The report is the second annual Birmingham Economic Review 2018, produced by Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC) and University of Birmingham’s City-Region Economic Development Institute (REDI), which aims to accelerate economic growth in the West Midlands.
The report details Birmingham’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, and has highlighted the city’s prosperous and growing digital sector and expertise in advanced technology.
In the report, it estimates that the city’s digital sector is estimated to have contributed £1.4 billion to GVA and created 36,802 jobs in 2017.
Alongside the digital sector, the report highlights the future impact infrastructure investments will have on the region.
Inward investments such as High Speed Rail, Midland Metro Extensions, 5G networks and high-fibre broadband were outlined in the report to enhance connectivity across the region. This has contributed to a high demand in homes and business premises in and around the city.
This increase in demand has been heeded as a warning from the report, as it states that high-quality business premises are now in short supply. The report states that development of strategic employment sites across Birmingham must be prioritised as a matter of urgency.
The skills blight was again identified in the report as a key issue in the region. It stated that residents in the city are less likely to have high-level qualifications and more likely to have few or no qualifications compared to national figures.
Additionally, the region still lags behind national rates for unemployment, as Birmingham’s employment rate was estimated at 63.6 per cent in 2017 compared to the national rate at 74.9 per cent.
The report features insights from many business leaders across the city.
John Crabtree, Lord Lieutenant for the West Midlands and chair of the 2022 Commonwealth Games organising committee, commented on the assets of the city and the number of opportunities ahead that will help shape the region’s future. He said:
“We are not only demographically the youngest city in Europe, but also one of the richest and most diverse.
“The many new citizens we have welcomed have had much to do with our improving economic fortunes.
“We have all the ingredients necessary to become the exemplar of the modern global city…if we do our job properly, we will have 24 months to secure lasting legacies for the entire Midlands with the City of Culture stewarded from Coventry and then the Commonwealth Games headlined in Birmingham.”
Professor Simon Collinson, deputy pro vice-chancellor at the University of Birmingham and Director of City-REDI said:
“Building on the economic momentum we have already achieved, more firms are investing, more businesses are starting up, and more high-skilled, talented people are coming to our city-region to work, than we have seen in over a decade.
“Evidence presented in this year’s Birmingham Economic Review shows how and why we are increasingly attractive as a location for leading firms.
“We are delighted to work with the GBCC and other regional partners to help maintain the momentum and ensure that our economic success benefits all.”
Paul Faulkner, chief executive of the GBCC, said:
“The Birmingham Economic Review continues to be one of our stand-out publications, fuelled by the expert analysis of the University of Birmingham’s City-REDI.
“We hope that this review again helps advise our members as they make investment decisions in our uncertain political climate, as our formal exit from the European Union approaches.
“There is no doubt that there are challenges ahead for the region, however the Birmingham Economic Review provides much optimism and demonstrates the region’s resilience and strength for the future.
“We would like to thank all of the businesses that contributed their expertise to this report, and brought the analysis to life.”