Better skills, more good jobs and a growing economy

Bradford District has many great things to offer, its rich history and heritage, outstanding landscapes, cultural diversity, vibrant communities and an entrepreneurial and growing economy.

The district also faces some big challenges. With public money very tight and demand for services increasing it will take the energy, efforts and resources of us all – the Council and public services, local people, communities and business – to succeed in meeting those challenges.

None of us has all the answers, there are choices to be made and options to take, but we all need to think about what we can contribute to creating the kind of place that we want to live in, because we can achieve far more working together than we ever can alone.

We can help to reduce people’s reliance on public services and support and the district’s reliance on shrinking Government grants by working together to grow the local economy.

Increased prosperity, more good jobs and successful businesses means fewer people relying on services, fewer people claiming benefits and higher living standards for everyone.

It means more income from local business rates that can then be used to help to pay for the services that we all care about and rely on, such as caring for our vulnerable and elderly, supporting our children through their early years and school to achieve their full potential, disposing of waste and maintaining roads, parks, pools and open spaces.

We need to look at what we can all contribute to improving skills, increasing the numbers of good jobs and growing the economy. Everyone can play a part and working together we can use all the district’s assets and resources to help make it a more successful and prosperous place.

Economy and skills

Bradford District has a big and growing economy worth £8.7 billion, the eighth largest in England. It is a globally important manufacturing centre and has strengths in financial and professional services, retail, construction and creative and digital industries.

We need to make sure the economy keeps growing. We have one of the UK’s youngest populations and the numbers of people of working age are expected to grow by another 24,000 by 2024. Those people need to be able to get good local jobs. The district needs 26,000 new jobs to match national rates of employment by 2021 alone.

Our ambition is to work together with business, education providers, local services and communities to develop an economy with high skill, high value jobs.

To keep good jobs in the district, and create and attract the new ones that we need, it’s important that we have a skilled and qualified workforce.

Better qualifications mean higher incomes for individuals:

  • Employees with good GCSEs earn around 25% more than those with no qualifications
  • Employees educated to A-level earn around 15% more than those educated to GCSE
  • Employees with Higher Education qualifications earn around 45% more than those educated to GCSE and employees with a degree earn 85% more

Getting qualifications and staying on in education and training can make a big difference to earnings. It also means increased productivity for employers:

  • People with five or more good GCSEs (including English and maths) as their highest qualification are estimated to have lifetime productivity gains worth around £100,000 on average, compared to those with lower level or no qualifications. That’s the equivalent of three additional years of work
  • Men who achieve level 3 apprenticeships as their highest qualification have lifetime productivity gains of around £175,000 compared to those who are only educated to GCSE level, for women the figure is around £78,000

Developing the skills for life and work starts in the home and at school and everyone can help. Our proposed education covenant tells you how you can play your part.

In Bradford district the numbers of people without qualifications are high and around two thirds of adults with no qualifications are not in work.

The Council is working hard with schools, colleges and business to help develop a local workforce with the experience, knowledge and skills that the district’s economy needs in order to grow. Here are some of the things we’re doing together:

Industrial Centres of Excellence

  • Industrial Centres of Excellence (ICE) are an innovative way in which the Bradford District is providing education for young people aged 14-19
  • ICE are about working together. They involve businesses and education providers working together to develop the curriculum young people are taught, and the environment in which they are taught. This helps to ensure that the skills young people develop match those that employers need
  • Together we can meet future skills needs by developing fit for purpose training and by ensuring that our best local talent is attracted to our key industries
  • ICE allow employers and training providers to exchange knowledge and innovation that contributes to the district’s economic competitiveness


  • Supporting apprenticeships is a key development priority for the district’s business and public sector partners
  • Investing in apprenticeships makes sense – they deliver for individuals, employers, the economy and our communities
  • Apprenticeships improve skill levels, stimulate further training and can increase wages; they boost productivity with an average weekly gain of £214 for employers and research shows people will pay more for goods and services from businesses that employ apprentices
  • Productivity gains from employing an apprentice range from £83 in the retail sector and £114 in health, public services and care, up to £401 in construction and planning, and £414 per in engineering and manufacturing
  • Even while training apprentices are estimated to deliver an average positive net gain of £1,670 per annum to their employers
  • Apprenticeships enable businesses to develop the talent they need to be successful and offer different routes for our young people, so that they can choose the option that best suits them
  • We want the district’s businesses to employ even more apprentices so that we can support business growth and the long-term prosperity of Bradford
  • Apprenticeships aren’t just for young people, more and more older workers are using them as a way to re-train

Our Apprenticeship Hub exists to help people find the right apprenticeship provider and to support businesses in setting up apprenticeships.

Bradford Pathways

  • Bradford Pathways is about developing a new educational model that meets the challenge of delivering employment focussed skills, careers and technical education
  • The model has had huge success in the USA and Bradford is leading the way in the UK. It works by building collaboration between education, businesses and industry partners to make sure that education matches the future skills requirements of both employers and jobseekers
  • To make it work best for Bradford we will be starting a conversation with all our stakeholders to ensure we get the best pathways into employment and learning for our young people. The conversation will include sixth forms, secondary schools, further education colleges and businesses, parents and students
  • The purpose of Bradford Pathways is to prepare students for a world of changing business and economic needs. It will support young people and adults into a wide range of higher-wage, higher-skills and higher-demand careers in sectors that are important to Bradford and the region
  • Bradford Pathways is an innovative way of delivering skills and knowledge for young people so they can gain employment now and in the future. The Council will take a leadership role in working with schools and businesses to develop Bradford Pathways so we can match skills and training with our future economic needs

Get Bradford Working

  • Get Bradford Working, Bradford’s award winning employment and skills programme includes the Employment Opportunity Fund which has helped over 1,500 disadvantaged people into training and more than 1,600 into work

Skills House

  • SkillsHouse is a unique local partnership based in Bradford city centre that is designed to boost retail, hospitality and visitor economy businesses and help people to find jobs
  • Since opening in June 2015 about 400 people have received customer service training, over 800 industry led qualifications have been achieved and more than 130 local people have started work as a result of SkillsHouse support
  • Broadway Bradford employers have recruited from these people ensuring that the benefits of the new development are felt across the district

Supporting business and attracting investment

Successful businesses are critical to the district’s future economic achievement and growth. Through its Invest in Bradford team, and work with its partners, the Council has been investing in support and advice to small and medium sized businesses and emerging entrepreneurs as well as in keeping and attracting major employers.

The district needs to keep attracting investment and developing skills, with less public money this work might not always be done by Bradford Council. Devolution of powers and resources from the Government to West Yorkshire or Leeds City Region may mean that in future this is the best place for services supporting skills and the economy. Bradford Council’s role could be using its influence to get the best deal for the district. What do you think – does it matter who does this job?

Thriving city and town centres

Thriving city and town centres play a vital role in driving successful economies and increasing prosperity.

The economic success of the city centre has a big part to play in the economic success of the district. There are 32,700 jobs located in Bradford city centre. That’s one in six of all the district’s jobs. The city centre attracts 24 million shopping trips a year, when the new Broadway centre opens in November this year it will attract and estimated 9 million more shopping trips.

Working together with business and partners the Council has been helping to create more jobs and bring more spending into the city centre, delivering economic benefits to the whole district.

  • Our City Centre Growth Zone has supported 192 businesses, including 47 new starts, and has created 374 jobs. It has brought 47 empty properties back into use and stimulated £15 million investment in the city centre
  • The total value of investment on site this year in the city centre amounts to over £500 million, with an additional £200 million being invested in other parts of the district
  • The new Broadway shopping centre is about to open, creating over 2,000 jobs
  • There is a growing Independent quarter and more than 20 new cafes, bars and restaurants have opened in recent years

We have worked with businesses in Keighley to improve heritage shop fronts and supported them to set up a Business Improvement District which will see business in the driving seat in the town centre.

The Council still manages Bradford city centre but over time this could change and we will continue to explore innovative approaches to city centre management.

One of the things we could do to give the city centre a further boost is to invest in helping to bring some of its privately owned heritage buildings back into use. The owners don’t pay business rates for listed buildings that are empty so they are potential assets that aren’t paying their way. If we could bring more of these buildings into productive use we’d have more income to spend on Council services and we’d rely less on Government grants.

But this could mean significant Council investment. Should the Council offer incentives to bring heritage buildings back into use even it costs money upfront before any returns are seen? Are there other things you think could be done that might help to bring empty town and city centre buildings back into use?

Doing your bit for the economy

Shop Local – Everyone can help our city, town and local shopping centres to thrive.

The way you spend your money can be crucial to the wellbeing of your community, help to create local jobs and increase the value of your house!

If you shop locally you help to support the local economy in a way that you don’t if you shop elsewhere or online. Buying from local retailers or suppliers keeps more of your money circulating in the local economy. The impact of money that stays within the local economy multiplies as it gets spent again and it can increase local jobs, wealth and wellbeing.

Research by American Express indicates that local high streets with lots of small independent business added tens of thousands of pounds to nearby house prices.

So, use the power of the pound in your pocket to support your city and town centres, local shops, pubs, restaurants and suppliers and help to grow jobs, opportunities and the district’s economy.

The Council and other public services have to keep to certain rules when they buy goods and services but buying local where possible also provides a boost to the economy, so the Council will keep doing what it can to keep as much of its spending as possible in the local economy.

Keep it Clean – Keeping shopping centres clean and litter free is everyone’s responsibility and there can be no excuses for dropping litter. Businesses can play their part by keeping the areas outside clean and making sure they help to reduce costs and improve the environment by recycling.

Tourism and culture

The district’s cultural assets, activities and events have enormous social value but they also have an important part to play in its economic wellbeing so it’s important that we all do what we can to promote and sustain them.

The district’s visitor economy is worth £550 million with an estimated 9.2 million visitors each year. The Broadway shopping centre will attract even more.

We know that in the future the Council is not going to be able to do everything that it does now. To keep all our theatres, museums, galleries and support for cultural activity in shape we might have to look at doing things differently. In some places successful trusts have been formed to manage cultural and other assets so they come out of the council’s day to day control. We might have to explore similar options here and to encourage more people to help out as volunteers.

Increasingly we will need business sponsors if we are going to have successful high profile events and more of those events will have to be placed on a commercial footing.

Doing your bit to big up Bradford

Be a local tourist – Visitors can make a big contribution to a growing economy and thousands come to the district each year to experience our unique offer of culture, countryside and heritage.

You can do your bit to help by acting as an ambassador. Big up Bradford wherever you go and on your social media posts.

Be a local tourist and sample the district’s attractions first hand yourself while keeping your visitor pounds working for the local economy. Visit Bradford tells you all you need to know about what’s on and where to go.

Developing digital cities and services

Bradford district is a centre for digital technologies and home to the Digital Catapult Centre Yorkshire. It is one of only three national catapult centres established to advance rapidly the UK’s best digital ideas, supporting small businesses to develop and showcase their products.

Local companies like Pace, Radio Design and Echostar are at the forefront of the UK’s digital sector.

Bradford is investing heavily in ultrafast broadband, 4G and city centre Wi-Fi to further improve digital infrastructure.

Digital and telecommunications technology could offer opportunities to build on this success and infrastructure, not just to grow the economy but also to replace or improve traditional ways of using and providing public services.

If the Council and other public services reduced the numbers of buildings they occupy/operate by putting more services online or creating apps it could save money on the running costs. For example, some other places have shifted the way they provide information to visitors away from Information Centres in buildings and more towards digital apps. This is an approach that the Council could look at across a range of activities to save money while maintaining services – what do you think? Could it work here? Does every service have to be housed in its own building?

Are there other ways you can think of that we could use digital technology to deliver services and save money?

You could help us to save money by using digital and online technology to access public services and the more people who do this, the more incentive there will be for digital industries to develop new ideas so it has the potential to stimulate the economy.

Be an active citizen

Economic health and wellbeing isn’t just about jobs and employment and active involvement in civic life through volunteering and participation make a significant contribution to quality of life. They can also deliver benefits that support economic outcomes like providing routes into employment, skills development or services that might otherwise need to be paid for or would close.

The district is home to around 100,000 active citizens. Why not join them?

You could do your bit by volunteering to help out in any number of ways. We have great ‘Friends of’ groups helping out in our parks and museums and our volunteer-led Sneaky Peeks tours of City Hall have been a tremendous success. You could help to run a community library, help children to read, become a school governor, or assist in running a luncheon club.

For more information about volunteering check out Volunteering Bradford or Keighley and District Volunteer Centre.

What you can do to help the district achieve better skills, more good jobs and a growing economy

  • Read the Bradford Education Covenant and do your bit to help all our children get a good school and a great start in life
  • Skill yourself up – go on a course at work or in your spare time to keep your skills up to speed
  • Find out about opportunities to participate in local apprenticeship schemes
  • Keep your city, town and local shopping centres clean and free from litter
  • Volunteer to help out in your community or with local services
  • Shop local and realise the power of the pound in your pocket
  • Big up Bradford and be a local tourist
  • Use digital and online technology to access Council services

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