Skills key to boosting region’s investment potential - claim

20 February 2018

The West Midlands can accelerate its investment potential if key issues around skills and a lack of net inward migration are addressed, according to a new report.

According to Arcadis, cities in the West Midlands rank among the most attractive in the UK for investment, with Birmingham and Coventry boasting a more balanced housing market, attractive business environment, lower cost of living and an overall better quality of life when compared with competitors.

The results are according to the latest Arcadis report, ‘Investing in Britain: Cities Built for the Future’.

The study ranks 24 of the UK’s key cities based on their performance across six key pillars deemed crucial for future inward investment and growth potential.

They are business environment, workforce and skills, infrastructure performance, housing, place and city brand.

The report identifies three distinct groupings of cities, representing different economic profiles and a city’s relative attractiveness to future investment.

These are Established Economic Centres, Future Growth Hubs and Smaller Regional Cities.

Established Economic Centres like London and Edinburgh require huge levels of investment just to accommodate continuing growth. 

In contrast the West Midlands features a cross-section of high performing Future Growth Hubs, including Birmingham and Coventry, which face less pressure on housing and infrastructure that has resulted from the concentration of too much growth elsewhere.     

In these cities, the agglomeration effect of industries such as manufacturing and automotive has created a thriving environment for investment.

While more established economies risk falling back down the rankings if fundamental quality of life issues around infrastructure and housing capacity are not addressed, the biggest barrier preventing Birmingham from moving further up is skills.

Simon Marks (pictured), Arcadis city executive for Birmingham, said: “The West Midlands is one of the true powerhouse regions of the UK, with a hard-earned global reputation for advanced manufacturing helping to put the region firmly on the international map.  

“Cities like Birmingham and Coventry provide a springboard for leveraging existing strengths in the economy and quality of life, but the most important thing is to recognise which levers need to be pulled to ensure that all West Midlands cities continue to attract the type of investment they need.

“Addressing a few key areas such as further building the region’s brand, improving transport infrastructure and increasing the performance and capacity of schools in the region would have a sizeable impact on the West Midlands’ reputation for would-be investors. 

“Ultimately however, as we’ve seen with the inroads being made by the West Midlands Combined Authority, the governance of a region needs to be structured in a way that encourages and facilitates inward investment.

“This will ensure that future opportunities are focused on the right locations, helping to accelerate balanced growth across the region and ultimately realising new sources of competitive advantage for the West Midlands.”

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