Wakefield Council to consider plan for city's jobs and economy

In-depth plans for future jobs, investment and growth in the Wakefield district’s local economy are to be discussed this month.

Monday, 1st March 2021, 4:45 pm

With a focus on the whole district as ‘a place to succeed’ Wakefield Council is setting out a series of goals, actions and ambitions to drive forward the district’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Commitments to boost the economy include working with businesses to support future prosperity and taking active measures that will give residents greater opportunities to learn new skills and improve their work prospects.

Members of Wakefield’s cabinet will meet on March 16 and consider the council’s new business support and inward investment strategy.

This will provide the long-term perspective and clear vision to allow Wakefield to become a place where all businesses and communities succeed.

The plan sets out goals for sustainable growth, with a greater focus on innovation, inclusion and enabling businesses to increase their own competitiveness, whilst contributing to the prosperity of the district by creating good, sustainable jobs.

Key sectors have been identified including advanced manufacturing and logistics, health and social care, digital and professional services.

Coun Darren Byford, Cabinet Member for Economic Growth and Regeneration, said: “We are working hard to support the district’s economic recovery from the pandemic – it is of course a challenging time – but we are positive about our fantastic district and are planning ahead.

"We will play to our strengths and work with partners to support businesses and attract inward investment, which will create new jobs and opportunities to help the district thrive.”

As well as building on the existing economic strategy and Covid19 response plan, the strategy links to the recently approved learning city strategy and the draft tourism recovery plan.

The council said it is a coordinated approach, which will deliver good growth for Wakefield by attracting new business investment, support business expansion, identifying future skills needs and improving perceptions of Wakefield’s places.

It will involve key partnerships with stakeholders in the private sector; third sector; education; government bodies and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

The strategy identifies the district’s key assets, which include its central location; excellent green spaces; arts, and leisure; access to a population of £2.1m people - including 200,000 students at 11 universities - within a 35 mile distance; contributing to economy worth £6.5billion that has attracted high profile employers such as Haribo and Coca Cola.

There is recognition that whilst the district has traditionally benefited from high levels of employment, many jobs are unskilled or low-skilled, so the focus will be on opportunities to skill up the existing workforce, whilst working with businesses and potential investors to develop more highly skilled jobs.

The strategy spells out how traditional industries will be supported to flourish, whilst also seeking opportunities to develop the green economy, digital and business and professional services, at the same time as ensuring such as retail and hospitality, which are currently experiencing difficult times, can be supported.

Cabinet members will be asked to endorse the strategy, which will enable the Council and partners to secure the district’s economic recovery and improve opportunities for people by creating jobs and upskilling.

Members of Wakefield’s cabinet are meeting virtually on Tuesday, March 16 at 10.30am to discuss the plans. The meeting can be watched live or later