London must invest in infrastructure and skills to remain competitive – CBI president

London’s future success as a global city depends on the capital having the right infrastructure in place, skills fit for the twenty-first century and getting devolution right, the CBI’s president will say this afternoon (Friday).

Paul Drechsler, CBI

Speaking at the Autumn Lunch, CBI London’s flagship annual event, attended by the Lord Mayor of the London, Paul Drechsler, the president of Britain’s largest business group, will tell guests that infrastructure – from housing to transport – is the number one priority for businesses ahead of next year’s Mayoral election.

“London is a global city with a magnetic force, attracting the brightest and the best from all over the world. But staying ahead of the competition starts right here at home – on London’s streets and in London’s schools,” Drechsler said.

According to our latest analysis,  around 25m sq ft of office space will be required by 2019 assuming current rates of employment growth. At the moment, there is only 13m sq ft due to be built" -Shelley Frost, JLL

“We need to make sure that our pupils get the right skills, behaviours and experiences for the world of work. Then, when they’re ready to start their first day at work, they’ll need a city where they can afford to live. And with the city growing by two buses a day, there needs to be a transport system which works for them.

“London’s success as a global city rests on using the skills and expertise found all over the United Kingdom, through supply chains. The reality is that – often – when London grows, the regions prosper. Business must be active partners in plans for greater devolution, including on issues like planning and skills, to give them the confidence to invest and drive growth.”

His views are echoed by Lord Mayor of London, Alderman Alan Yarrow.

“Skills and infrastructure are crucial to London’s long-term success. That’s why the City of London Corporation sponsors three academies, to ensure our young people get the education they need to get ahead. 

“And it’s why I travel the world building relationships with overseas investors to ensure that London gets the investment it needs,” Yarrow said. “Just this week, President Xi Jinping of China was at the Mansion House to sign £30bn of trade agreements to invest in vital UK infrastructure. This is exactly the sort of partnership we need to be forming if we are to maintain our place in the global race.”

Shelley Frost, head of consulting at property business JLL, said:  “London’s position cannot be taken for granted. It is a city in the midst of a dynamic and very global race and to be a resilient city of the future it needs to deliver a high level of connectivity, technology and creativity.

“It’s crucial that we create space for London to grow and there is no way the rate and quantum of London’s growth can be contained within existing office and commercial hubs. According to our latest analysis,  around 25m sq ft of office space will be required by 2019 assuming current rates of employment growth. “At the moment, there is only 13m sq ft due to be built, leaving a significant shortfall. However, this represents a major growth opportunity for the real estate industry and related sectors as it offers a chance to explore new and emerging markets beyond the traditional core locations. 

“It’s imperative that policymakers continue to support London’s leading market clusters. These will provide the workplaces and business neighbourhoods of the future and cement London’s reputation as a top tier global city.”

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