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UK cities lagging behind Europe for skills and productivity, study finds

Published 22/09/2016

Oxford is one of only two UK cities in the European top 20 for innovation
Oxford is one of only two UK cities in the European top 20 for innovation

Most UK cities are lagging behind European competitors for skills and productivity, a study shows.

The weaknesses must be addressed if cities are to attract industries offering long-term growth and prosperity, said Centre for Cities.

The think-tank's study of 63 UK cities showed that nine out of 10 performed below the European average for productivity and three out of four had a lower proportion of highly skilled workers.

Only Cambridge and Oxford were in the European top 20 for innovation, while the UK economy relied on a handful of high-performing cities for economic growth, said the report.

Alexandra Jones, chief executive of Centre for Cities, said: "No other economy in Europe is so dependent on the performance of its cities, yet too many of the UK's urban areas are failing to realise their potential.

"For the country to thrive in the years to come, it's vital that the Government works with cities to address the skills and productivity gaps holding most places back.

"In particular, the Government should ensure that any new funding commitments in the Autumn Statement focus on boosting the key drivers of growth in cities, such as skills, transport and housing.

"Over the long term, it should also build on its devolution agenda by giving places the powers they need - and which European counterparts already enjoy - to grow their local economies."

A Government spokesman said: "Improving productivity, rewarding working people with higher wages and creating more opportunities for young people is at the heart of the Government's industrial strategy.

"And our landmark devolution deals - backed up by billions of pounds of Government investment - are giving local people unprecedented powers to drive forward growth in their area."

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