BETTER jobs, better training and more attractive places to live are on the agenda for Cheshire as it looks to attract younger workers.

Philip Cox, chief executive of the Cheshire and Warrington local enterprise partnership (LEP), presented the body’s local industrial strategy to a Cheshire West and Chester Council committee on Wednesday.

His organisation wants the area’s economy to grow from £30.9 billion to more than £50 billion by 2040 – and the area currently has the second-highest level of growth outside London.

But faced with an ageing population and a growing number of low-skilled jobs, the LEP is keen to attract as many young people into good jobs as possible.

Mr Cox told CWAC’s places overview and scrutiny committee: “They want to live in urban areas, they want to live in one or two-bedroom flats, they want good public transport.

“Most of the homes we are building in this area tend to be in villages, tend to be on green fields, tend to be three or four-bedroom detached homes, they normally require you to have a car in order to get around.

Knutsford Guardian:

“Only 60 per cent of under 29-year-olds now have a driving licence, so effectively we are saying to 40 per cent of under 29 year olds in the UK as a whole that you cannot afford to live in Cheshire and Warrington – you can’t get around, because if you don’t have a car, you can’t get from A to B.

“So we are pushing very hard to be looking at bringing more residential accommodation into urban areas, and making those urban areas more vibrant, exciting places for some of those young people to live. Those young people are absolutely crucial to the economy.”

According to the LEP, Cheshire and Warrington’s productivity is 4.1 per cent higher than the UK average, and 14 per cent higher than the north west average – but it is stagnating.

The LEP is also concerned that nearly one in five of workers are now earning below the real living wage of £9 an hour – set by the Living Wage Campaign, but above the minimum set by law.

READ > Bold ambitions for Cheshire to become world leader in zero-carbon technology

Mr Cox wants to see employers upskill the workforce to make sure Cheshire’s wages can rise.

He said: “We are growing very fast, the number of jobs is growing twice as fast as the population is growing, but those jobs are tending to be in lower productivity, lower wage sectors.

“That is a risk to our economy, and if those lines cross and our productivity falls below the UK average, then our reputation will be that we are just another part of the failing north.”

Councillors agreed that work needed to be done to make sure residents could benefit from Cheshire’s economic growth.

Labour Cllr Richard Beacham, cabinet member for housing, regeneration and growth, said: “When we talk about these kind of strategies – certainly from the council’s point of view – we’ve also got to think ‘what is the benefit of this to our residents’.

Knutsford Guardian:

“In the end we are trying to create better jobs, increase people’s wealth, increase their access to decent transport and housing.”

Labour Cllr Matt Bryan, CWAC’s climate emergency champion, added: “I think you have hit the nail on the head with the transport issue.

“Nobody wants to live here because if you are a young person and you don’t want to be driving, Manchester is a far more desirable option. Even if you are earning slightly less, it is expensive running a car.”