City’s big task over economy

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THE extent of the economic challenge facing Sheffield was indicated this week.

A national report underlines that the city and other parts of South Yorkshire have fared worse than other parts of the country because of a reliance on traditional manufacturing and public sector jobs and could be held back from growth by low pupil attainment in schools.

But there is also evidence that Sheffield is turning a corner, having the fourth best rise in the proportion of the workforce in employment of any large British town or city between 2009/10 and 2010/11. The city also retains large numbers of university graduates.

The first in-depth analysis of the economic wellbeing of UK towns and cities since the start of the downturn is by think tank Centre for Cities. It compares employment rates, business growth, skills and the housing market.

The report says efforts must be made to tackle dependence on public sector employment, but adds further investment by the Government is needed to get the economy going.

Edward Highfield, Sheffield council’s director of economy, enterprise and skills, said the report reinforced a number of challenges for the region’s economy such as the need to reduce youth unemployment and increase business start-ups.

“It highlights strong performance in innovation and research and developments, as measured by the number of patents registered, and large numbers of some of the most highly qualified people in the country. This reflects the strong emphasis on knowledge-intensive industries which will be at the heart of Sheffield city region’s future economic growth.”