Consultations and surveys Manchester Strategy: A highly skilled city

World class and home grown talent sustaining economic success 


Manchester is in the top tier for higher education internationally. Our universities draw on richly diverse staff and students from 150-plus countries. Manchester University is the thirty-eighth best teaching and research university in the world.

With a growing, youthful population, Manchester has enormous potential. There’s a rich variety of opportunities for careers in many fields: in blue chip companies, as entrepreneurs with a bright idea, in important public services or service industries. The spirit of enterprise here needs nurturing. We must connect all Mancunians to these opportunities and equip them with with the right skills and qualifications, so everyone can develop and flourish. We’ll make a clear link between the city’s economic opportunities and developing the skills needed to compete for good jobs. 

Children and young people growing up here must aspire to be part of the city’s success. We must provide pathways to fulfilled potential, to decent wages and skills for work. This could see more in higher-level and technical apprenticeships or at university. The range of pathways available will reflect the breadth of our economy and diversity of our people. We must even out disparities between areas if people are to have the right skills for the higher value, higher skilled jobs now leading our economy. 

We need to connect our skills and education system with employers so skills, training and apprenticeships clearly relate to the city’s growing sectors – creating a pipeline of employable young people qualified to succeed. 

Schools are custodians of Manchester’s next generation of inventors, scientists, teachers, nurses and high-tech engineers. We must connect our economic growth sectors with core teaching in our schools. Educational attainment is up – we must drive it higher, focussing on Science, Technology, English, Maths, coding and digital skills – keys to the jobs of tomorrow.  

Schools also have a wider role instilling confidence and ambition, social literacy and a culture of respect, preparing young people for work and for life. It’s vital to help them to develop into confident young adults with the drive and the social, communication and critical thinking skills to succeed.  

To help every child have the best possible start, we must radically overhaul the Early Years system to ensure every child arrives at school ready to learn. 

Our focus on skills must boost residents’ ability to get well paid, secure jobs and promotion. People must now continue developing new skills throughout working life. Employers’ investment in their workforce will improve their own staff skill and productivity and, in turn, the city’s. Too many working age people are without work. We must support them into work and to stay there so they’re not caught in a cycle of low pay and no pay. The ‘Working Well’ programme delivered by Big Life on behalf of Greater Manchester Combined Authority provides targeted support to those furthest from the job market. 

Manchester wants everyone to earn at least the living wage, and for exclusive zero-hour contracts to be a thing of the past. The gap between resident and workplace wages (£71 a week in 2015) will only close if residents have the skills for higher paid roles. 

80% of students say they want sustainable development to be part of their university studies and that, from an even earlier age, education on sustainability is key to becoming a leading low carbon city. Many graduates are looking for roles that deliver social and environmental improvements or to work for companies with clear environmental and ethical working practices. This creates the potential to provide a motivated, Manchester-educated, workforce for the businesses that will drive our transition to a low carbon economy.

To grow as we intend to, we don’t just need to attract and develop the best global talent, education and skills provision, we must also meet the skills demand of our key sectors. Aspirations must rise so everyone can seize the opportunities of a thriving economy. People need clear routes to up-skill or re-skill to make their aspirations a reality in a city brimming with opportunities.

Back to summary of The Manchester Strategy




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