Telegraph Column by Sharon Squires: Mapping out the path to success

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The State of Sheffield 2016 is an independently-written report that draws together a wide range of publicly available data to tell the story of how Sheffield is doing. The report is commissioned by Sheffield Executive Board, and the lead author is Professor Gordon Dabinett of Sheffield University, so it is not subject to editorial control by any public institution.

This is the fifth report in the current format. Each report has focused on different issues, so they need to be read as one to build a full picture, but in producing this report the authors felt the time was right to look back over those five years, to see if any trends have been established that are meaningful for Sheffield’s future.

I really recommend you read the report in full. Sheffield has the capacity to be a truly great 21st century city, but we will only get there by everyone pulling in the same direction. So what does the report tell us? Here are some key findings.

Sheffield continues to grow as a city with 563,700 people living here in 2014, and it is becoming increasingly diverse and cosmopolitan. The city has a better performance on employment than most other major UK cities, but wages remain low relative to national averages and other Core Cities. Sheffield children are making progress in Early Years, Key Stage 2 and GCSE attainment - gaps to the national average still exist, though in some cases these are starting to close.

Youth unemployment remains a challenge by high female youth unemployment. That being said, there is evidence that young people in Sheffield City Region are better prepared for work than elsewhere.

Life expectancy has improved, and the gap between male and female figures has narrowed.

There are increasing mental and emotional health needs in young people and women, matching national trends and linked strongly with deprivation and health inequality. Sheffield’s environment remains a major asset: the city needs to ensure it is maintained.

To remain a young and vibrant city, Sheffield needs to accelerate the improvements it is making in the education and skills arena, and it needs to work to reduce gaps in performance that exist. The city also needs to ensure older people get the services they need.

The city needs to work together better so that it can become a fairer and more just place. There are encouraging signs for Sheffield’s future economy, but growth needs to be accelerated.

n Visit www.sheffieldfirst.com to download a copy of the State of Sheffield 2016 report.