Introduction

The UK Government is encouraging cities to prepare for the economy of the future through, amongst other things, investing in skills. Policy makers, however, face a 'data deficit' on skills, which impedes strategic planning and decision-making. Through a novel data modelling approach, this project is aiming to shed light on the industrial diversification potential of UK cities from a skills-based perspective.

This project received funding from the Turing-HSBC-ONS Economic Data Science Awards 2018.

Explaining the science

Globally, a consensus has emerged that emphasises the role of cities, rather than countries, as key engines of economic growth. The UK economy is facing considerable uncertainty driven by Brexit, with its expected impact on trade and investment, and longer-term shifts in the organisation of work associated with automation. To address these challenges, the UK Government is encouraging cities to prepare for the economy of the future through, amongst other things, investing in skills. Policy makers, however, face a 'data deficit' on skills, which impedes planning on education, investment and economic development. 

Project aims

This project aims to deploy a novel data modelling approach to shed light on some key economic policy issues facing UK cities, taking a skills-based perspective on industrial diversification and resilience. 

The project will use data from the Office of National Statistics on worker mobility to develop a network-based model which will uncover locally embedded knowledge and skills. This industry network for the UK can be seen as an ‘economic landscape’, and will be used to investigate the future diversification potential of individual UK cities, and their capacity to respond – in terms of re-deploying labour across sectors - to challenges such as Brexit and automation. 

The researchers will work alongside policy makers to contribute to the evidence base for industrial and skills policy-making at a local and national level.

Applications

This research has a strong focus on policy, and aims to feed into both city and national level strategic planning, including the UK’s national industrial strategy. It has the potential to inform skills and industrial strategies leading to employment and firm growth, with associated gains in well-being and quality of life for a broad set of beneficiaries.

In particular, there is a plan to engage heavily with Greater Manchester, chosen for its strong focus on industrial strategy, commitment to evidence-based policy, and unique local challenges. Manchester has recently secured funding for its local industrial strategy, and it is envisaged that results from this project will support data-driven evidence-based policy action.

Organisers

Researchers and collaborators

Contact info

[email protected]

Funders

Research Engineering

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Members of the Research Engineering Group at the Turing are contributing their expertise to this project.

Research Data Scientists from the group will use secure ONS micro data to build a matrix of worker transitions between industry pairs. This matrix will be key for modelling the UK labour network.

Furthermore, members of the group will work with the researchers to perform a comparative study of the UK labour network and similar networks for other European countries.