Gloucester’s Job Market Growing Faster than London’s According to Reports
Gloucester showed impressive private sector jobs growth in 2014-2015 of 5.5% according to the Financial Times, a higher rate than London.
London saw roughly a 3% increase in employment over the same time period. This fact can’t be written off as modest success by a small city with percentages skewed by its relatively small population. Gloucestershire Live reported in February 2017 that Gloucestershire has the fourth highest employment rate in the UK at 80.7%.
Factors Driving This Trend
The high cost of living for workers and operating expenses for businesses are driving many banking jobs out of London to regional hotspots instead. Gloucestershire experienced nearly 100% growth in banking jobs in 2014-2015 due to this financial sector migration, a trend not expected to slow down anytime soon. The area has benefited from the shift of jobs from north to south by companies that literally cannot afford to be in London.
Another factor in Gloucestershire’s private sector growth is that the area has been encouraging startups and SMEs, and it has seen many of these firms last beyond their first year and grow into strong local employers. One example of a great startup is Folderprinting.co.uk, which specialises in branded presentation folders for a wide variety of businesses.
Gloucester has always had a high ratio of public sector jobs, but has been working to grow the business sector too. Increasing the size of the private sector protects the area from job reductions in the public sector and is essential for future economic growth.
The refurbishment of local attractions like the Gloucester Quays has increased the tourism sector and restaurant industry. The Gloucester area has benefited from the rise of internet shopping and its abundant, affordable real estate. One doesn’t have to have a warehouse in London to ship anywhere in the UK, and cheaper storage and distribution facilities in Gloucester’s Business Park and Quedgeley are a major attraction.
Companies already located in Gloucester such as Bruton Knowles have chosen to expand their facilities in the area because of the relatively low cost of real estate. Gloucester remains home to a sizable aerospace industry, though companies like Ecotricity, a green energy company, seen as the future of the area.
Lessons to Be Learned
Tapping into the internet shopping and digital services economy requires strong existing logistics, which Gloucester has, and low enough operating and real estate costs for these companies to make a profit. A regional government that nurtures small businesses will see growth in the private sector economy, and employment will rise as these businesses expand and hire more people. An existing high-tech sector helps, but is not necessarily the engine of growth as the decline of northern England’s mill towns and shipyards proves.
Gloucester is experiencing strong private sector growth, not because of a quirk in the calculations but its business friendly environment, relatively low cost real estate and strong infrastructure. Its emphasis on supporting small businesses that grow into large ones that stay in Gloucester is a key strategy to its continued long term success.