How investment in digital infrastructure could create 42,065 jobs in Yorkshire

Investment in full fibre and mobile connectivity in Yorkshire could unlock 42,065 jobs, boost the economy by more than £4.65bn by 2026 and help tackle inequality according to new research from Virgin Media O2 and economic modelling experts Oxford Analytica.

The research reveals investment could provide a multi-million-pound economic boost to regions across Yorkshire and the Humber, with West Yorkshire Combined Authority, £1.5bn, and Sheffield City Region, £743m, all set to see sizable economic uplifts.

The findings have been revealed in the first ever Digital Connectivity Index which uses thousands of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) datapoints to measure how individuals and organisations can connect with one another and the rest of the world through high-quality internet access.

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The Index, the first of its kind, assesses the quality of connectivity infrastructure across OECD countries and finds the UK is currently ranked joint eighth out of 24 OECD countries publishing complete digital connectivity datasets – just ahead of Germany, Portugal and Ireland.

Investment in Yorkshire and the Humber’s digital infrastructure could create 42,065 new jobs.Investment in Yorkshire and the Humber’s digital infrastructure could create 42,065 new jobs.
Investment in Yorkshire and the Humber’s digital infrastructure could create 42,065 new jobs.

The Digital Connectivity Index also revealed how upgrading mobile and broadband networks can support economic growth and help the country to level up.

If the UK was to become the OECD leader, it may unlock consistently higher GDP growth rates, 0.88 per cent, every year, equating to £69.78bn in extra GDP and 510,000 jobs between now and 2026.

Lutz Schüler, CEO of Virgin Media O2, said: “The importance of digital connectivity to Yorkshire and the Humber’s future couldn’t be clearer, and the role we play as an industry more profound.

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“With economic growth, new jobs and a fairer society at stake, we’re already taking a lead with a commitment to invest £10bn over the next five years.

“We’re turning up the dial on the national recovery and helping the country to climb up the international connectivity league tables to create a brighter, more prosperous future for every corner of the UK.”

Scott Urban, senior advisor at Oxford Analytica, said: “The Digital Connectivity Index shows telecom’s key contribution to levelling-up through spurring higher growth and creating new jobs.”

Virgin Media O2 has committed to investing £10bn over the next five years, with plans to expand 5G coverage to cover 50 per cent of the population by 2023 and upgrade its entire fixed network to full fibre to the premises by 2028.


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James Mitchinson

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