Psychology for Business
17th November 2017

Economic outlook for Greater Manchester – what businesses need to know

Organisations must invest in the skills of their workforce and boost productivity to drive economic growth.


Sarah Lavin, Business Psychologist, recently attended the pro-Manchester ‘Economics of Greater Manchester’ conference at the Hilton hotel where leaders in economics, business and local government shared their perspectives on the financial ‘health’ of Greater Manchester.

Headlines from the day included that economic growth is predicted for the UK and for Greater Manchester over the next couple of years but at a slow rate. There is a need for investment in skills and innovation and to increase productivity to boost economic growth. Manchester is a leading city in the UK for growth but still faces some challenges.

Employment is high but Brexit may well impact the labour market with predictions that employment growth is likely to be flat until 2019-20.

According to Anthony Light from Oxford Economics, net migration is predicted to drop sharply over the next couple of years as we see the impact of Brexit, with a current jobs boom in the Eurozone already creating a pull factor for migrants.

Mark Gregory, Chief Economist at EY, stated that businesses need to be investing in skills to get the best out of employees. Crucial to this is the need to reduce the skills gap. Joanne Rowney, Chief Executive of Manchester City Council explained that combined efforts are needed from business and the education sector to bridge this gap, by co-designing qualifications to ensure a skilled workforce for the future.

Manchester’s growing digital sector has been tipped as being an important contributor to our regions’ prosperity, with suggestions that growth in this sector presents an opportunity to reduce public debt. This is despite a skills gap in highly skilled digital jobs, many of which are held by EU nationals according to Tech North. The Government have subsequently indicated that they will grant up to 2000 visas nationally for skilled tech workers.

Underpinning this potential growth, is the need for improved transport links, affordable housing and reducing inequality, all of which are incredibly important for Greater Manchester. Professor Jill Rubery of Manchester Business School, highlighted that focusing on economic growth alone is not inclusive and we need to put people at the centre of growth, focusing on human progress.

Overall, the message was that businesses have huge potential to help deliver the Greater Manchester ambition, providing skills, jobs, services, transport or housing. There is major uncertainty surrounding Brexit, with no one really knowing what the final outcome will be. Could it be a mild bump in the road or a significant game changer for organisations and society?

At Impact, we can help your organisation to prepare for change, improve productivity and develop talent, enabling you to get the best out of your people and grow your business. Contact us to find out how.