York steps up action on ‘high value’ job creation

Plans are in place to create a business park at the FERA site at Sand Hutton
Plans are in place to create a business park at the FERA site at Sand Hutton
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YORK needs to do more to attract high value jobs to the city, according to a new report.

Providing more affordable space for businesses to grow and better co-ordination of advice for people running firms in the city are among early recommendations from a group of York councillors looking at how to persuade more graduates and entrepreneurs to start and relocate businesses to the city.

Their report says that while unemployment in York is below the national average a relatively high number of jobs are in areas such as hospitality, catering and retail while there is less employment in ‘high value’ areas such as pharmaceuticals and telecoms.

There has also been a rise in the number of people in part-time jobs, a trend believed to be a result of graduates from the city’s universities taking roles as they consider their next move that would previously have been filled by less qualified workers.

There has been a decline in manufacturing jobs in the city dating back to the 1990s, the report says.

York Council leader James Alexander said: “I welcome and thank the task group for its work in looking at higher value jobs and ways to develop higher levels of entrepreneurism in the city.

“While we are never complacent on unemployment, we are hovering around the one per cent mark which means our efforts now need to be more focussed on attracting higher value jobs so that people have options to further themselves professionally as well as afford to live in the place where they work.

“I look forward to the final recommendations from the committee and receiving them at Cabinet in due course”.

York has enjoyed recent success in attracting new jobs with the decision of insurance giant Hiscox to open a new office in the city.

The Government has also agreed to help fund the transformation of the Food and Environment Research Agency at Sand Hutton into a business park for food and agriculture businesses which is expected to support 800 jobs.

York’s economy has proved resilient in the downturn and is worth around £4.3 billion, higher than before the recession and second only in the region on a per head basis to Leeds.

Figures show that the number of businesses in York has steadily risen in recent years in contrast to the region as a whole.

The councillors’ report suggests further progress can be made by making more affordable space available, particularly in the city centre, for start-up businesses which need room to expand.

They call for a more “joined-up” approach to the support offered to business and suggest the creation of a “one stop shop” where firms can get advice on the problems they face.

The report also suggests that the council should make it easier for start-up businesses to access information they need from the authority in areas such as planning, licensing and environmental health.