Basic skills not trains

Recently, the Centre for Cities published a report comparing UK cities with cities in other European countries, and they have just published a more in-depth post about Manchester.

In it, they say that the city with the most similar industrial structure to Manchester is Hamburg in Germany: that’s  based on the proportion of jobs in each sector of its economy.

They say that Manchester and Hamburg have a similar rate of highly skilled workforce – 31% and 32% respectively – but quite a different economic output and patent rate.

One major difference though is amongst the lowest skilled, with 34 per cent of Manchester’s residents having less than 5 good GCSEs as their highest education level, while only 15 per cent of Hamburg’s population had an equivalent level of education.

This suggests that its not the speed of connections to the capital city that matters, but the quality of the schools within the city.  HS2 will make it easier for the highly skilled to get to London, whereas a factory worker in Manchester might never get on it. Before spending £55 bullion on HS2, the government should have looked to see the best way of spending the money – and if its to improve skills levels they could have targeted the money much more effectively.

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