Growth In Manufacturing Jobs In Sheffield Is Key To Closing The Economic Gap

Latest Report Highlights The Challenges Of Creating a Northern Powerhouse


David Shirt, Press Officer | 0161 838 3094

A report by The Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute says that increasing the number of manufacturing jobs would help close the economic gap between the city and the South East.

The report, which was commissioned by BBC Sheffield, incorporates a detailed review of the economies of Sheffield, Oxfordshire, Brighton and surrounding areas.

The report highlights the lower GVA in Sheffield compared to the other two areas in the South and concludes that a key reason for this is the number of people in Sheffield employed in low wage and low skilled employment, such as retail, hotels and the restaurant sector.

The report’s author, Tom Hunt, said: "Those areas in the south have seen the percentage of people working in that sector decline in the last ten years, but in Sheffield City Region they have stayed flat.

"Since 2012 when the economic recovery began to take place most new jobs in Sheffield City Region have been in that retail, hotels and restaurant sector, so what we need in Sheffield City Region are jobs in the higher value sectors such as finance, such as professional services and property services that the southern economies have a lot more of."

Mr Hunt added however that the city’s manufacturing heritage was an important platform for the future as these jobs tend to be higher skilled and higher paid.

He said: "The good thing about manufacturing is that the pay rates are higher and it's a higher value sector, which means there's a good base we can build on."

Irwin Mitchell’s recent ‘UK Powerhouse’ report predicted that under current Government policy, the economic gap between London and the so-called ‘Northern Powerhouse’ region will grow by 27% in the next 10 years.

The report which was authored by leading economic think tank, Cebr, recommended nine policy considerations to help the Government’s wealth-spreading agenda get back on track.

These included further devolution of power to cities, a rethink of existing transport policy, allowing the Living Wage to vary across different regions and greater involvement of businesses in education policy.

Expert Opinion
“Sheffield has built on its manufacturing heritage and is becoming a world leader in certain areas of advanced manufacturing.

“The focus should be on making sure Sheffield now builds on this and has the support it needs to help the northern region become a genuine ‘Powerhouse’. Sheffield recently signed its historic devolution deal and although this is a step in the right direction, businesses want this to be backed up with real investment in improving infrastructure.

“Organisations tell us that they would like a refocus on current policy in this area. The establishment of the National Infrastructure Commission is another positive step, but it is vital that the needs and views of businesses are not ignored.”
Paul Firth, Partner