DC&SDC: City Deal can potentially bring 7,200 jobs to the Derry area
The Derry & Strabane City Deal can potentially bring 7,200 jobs by 2032 with health and ICT identified as key drivers. However, it is expected that hundreds of jobs will be lost in the retail and manufacturing sectors over the next decade.
In a presentation to the Governance and Strategic Planning Committee giving an overview of the council area’s economic performance, Dr Eoin Magennis, from Ulster University’s Economic Policy Centre, said that City Deal investment could help to combat rising unemployment levels in the city but having bespoke employability supports in place would be crucial.
Dr Magennis’ presentation showed that around 1,700 jobs will go in retail (around 900) and manufacturing (800) between 2020 and 2030.
“Retail is a critical sector in all local economies and in this council area it is around 16% of total employment,” he said.
“We go through phases where shopping centres are popular then fall out of popularity, it seems to be harder at the moment for older shopping centres to continue to renew themselves.
“We have seen over the last 10 years, that our town centres are changing in terms of the offering and the shift towards cafes operating alongside retail.
“Town centre management issues seem to be key, around advertising opening hours and consistency around opening hours, the streetscape keeping that as pleasant and welcoming as possible.
“Perhaps we can see ourselves reinventing recreational centres of which retail forms one part.”
Councillors were told that a projected £240m could be generated for the local economy as a result of the City Deal and that higher wages and economic output will be the product of innovation projects such as THRIVE, CIDRA and Smart/Future Cities.
Under City Deal there would be a strong boost to employment growth with more than 7,200 jobs created by 2032 with 70% of those jobs filled by residents with commuters and migrants filling the other 30%.
Dr Magennis said: “The City Deal does promise that transformation in the local economy as it recovers from Covid.
“One of the things that is critical to the City Deal is the fact that the Inclusive Future Fund has a lot of the employability measures and that on its own ought to allow jobs to come along and other jobs associated with the general growth to be accessible across all parts of the community.
“Additional growth will be strongest in jobs requiring Level 4 qualifications or higher. You’re looking at a foundation degree, modern apprenticeship and upwards so the employability supports under the Inclusive Future Fund will be critical to bring people up to those levels and that speed.”
The Economic Inactivity rate (out of work and not looking for a job) has shown that despite the figure having fallen from 36.8% in 2009 to 31.2% in 2020, it is still above the NI average of 26.9% and well above the UK average of 20.8%.
Around 30% of 16-64 year olds are in this category with a sharp rise in 2020 amongst students.
Making up this category are the following groups: sick/disabled – one third; early retired 15%; students 25%; those with caring duties 25%.
The total employment in Derry City & Strabane has increased from 59,000 in 2001 to 69,000 in 2020 – a 17.3% increase, accounting for 7.7% of total jobs in Northern Ireland for 2020.
Local Democracy Reporter
Gillian Anderson , Local Democracy Reporting Service