Manchester and its surrounding towns once grew rich thanks to the cotton trade, creating a landscape dotted with the mills that clothed the British Empire. Now the second highest-populated urban area in the UK with more than 2.5 million residents, Greater Manchester is the leading area outside of London for the business, financial and professional services. And thanks to a strong manufacturing presence along with high employment in health and education, there are a wide range of job opportunities available.
More jobs expected – on balance
The most recent major forecast from Greater Manchester’s policy and strategy body, New Economy, looks positive, with a net gain of more than 100,000 jobs expected over the next decade.
Kerry Houston, lead economist at Oxford Economics, which carried out the study, said: ‘The Greater Manchester economy is expected to remain as a key driver of the North West. The forecasts suggest an additional 128,000 more people and 110,000 net new jobs within the city region by 2024.
‘Employment growth over the next decade will continue to be dependent upon gains in the professional services and admin and support sectors.
‘The public services sectors, by contrast, are forecast to endure further contractions, as austerity measures continue to be implemented.’
While the professional, business and admin opportunities are expected to multiply, the manufacturing and engineering sectors are predicted to see net losses of around 10,000 jobs. This is despite a predicted 1.7 per cent growth in the sector, which is expected to result from increased automation and efficiency.
And a new study for the International Festival for Business confirms this, predicting that Manchester will see 7,800 new jobs created in the professional services sector over the next five years. This is a jump of 14 per cent and makes it one of the top 10 fastest-growing places globally for roles in law, finance, management consultancy and advertising.
The Greater Manchester Combined Authority was established in 2011 and acts as the top-level administrative body for the 10 metropolitan boroughs. It has secured a whopping £476.7m worth of funding to aid economic growth in the region – with £307m of that still to be spent from 2016 onwards and an additional 5,000 jobs predicted to be created.
So what does that translate to in real life? There will be improvements to transport infrastructure and more funding for vocational education along with adult skills training. This means 75,000 people will have their learning funded.
The key industry sector to benefit will be the life sciences, with the aim of turning the former AstraZeneca site at Alderley Park (just over the border in Cheshire) into the catalyst for a region-wide bioscience cluster to benefit Greater Manchester too.
But Stan Murray Hession, a director at recruitment specialists Venn Group, suggested that the immediate vacancies were involved in administering changes to the NHS.
He said: ‘There has also been unprecedented demand for business information professionals within the health sector in the city in recent months. The NHS has looked to tackle budget cuts by incorporating innovative new technologies and has also aimed to identify the root causes of overspending.
‘As a result, contractors with experience of making efficiency savings are particularly highly sought after.’
Technical and creative
Manchester is also gaining a reputation as a thriving hub for the creative and tech industries. The BBC’s relocation makes it the highest-profile name at Media City in Salford, but it is situated alongside ITV and a host of smaller suppliers and contracting firms. Manchester has also benefitted from the government’s Tech North initiative to promote the digital economy in Northern England.
Stan Murray Hession said: ‘Manchester has undergone a turnaround in recent years and is now one of the UK’s major technology hubs. The growth of Tech North in the city, amongst other factors, has driven demand for a range of digital roles as a result of increased government investment into the project.’
The rapidly-changing skyline of Manchester is to continue evolving, with a series of high-profile developments already in progress. Greengate Embankment is among the biggest, with three million sq ft of mixed use development along the River Irwell on the boundary of Manchester and Salford.
A total of 5,200 jobs are expected to be created from that development alone, while a further 3,800-odd jobs are to be created at Port Salford – a rail freight terminal and warehousing centre to the south west of the city centre. Many more large, medium and small-scale development projects mean a boom for those working in commercial property and associated fields.
Stan Murray Hession explained: ‘As with many other regions, the Manchester property market is also driving demand for professionals due to an increase in house prices within the region.
‘The trend is also translating to the commercial property market as firms from all over the country continue to look to secure office space in fast-growing city centres. As a result, professionals within the legal sector have also been sought after by a range of organisations.’
Up to 800 jobs are expected to be created in Wigan if a proposed new distribution hub for retailer Poundland gets the go-ahead – and the former mining town is also seeing the iconic Wigan Pier turned into new retail, housing and entertainment premises.
In the medium-term future, there could be a jumbo-sized jobs boost courtesy of Airport City, a 160-acre, £800m commercial development close to (you guessed it) Manchester Airport.
BCEGI Construction UK’s executive director Wang Weibo says the project will create 11,400 new jobs over the next 10 to 15 years – with DHL already in operation there and strong interest reported from Chinese IT and e-commerce firms.
However you look at it, Greater Manchester is booming again – and the future is only going to get brighter for the northern powerhouse.
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