Cambridge jobs boom leads the UK but infrastructure issues remain
Greater Cambridge’s corporate economy significantly outperformed the UK figures in the year to mid-February with corporate employment growth locally surging from six per cent in 2021-22 to 8.5 per cent, Cambridge Ahead reveals.
The robust performance of the Knowledge Intensive sectors – Life Sciences, IT, and hi-tech manufacturing – was the stand-out from the latest figures.
Life sciences and healthcare, the largest KI sector in Greater Cambridge, was the fastest growing (12.8 per cent compared to 12.6 per cent during 2021-22), closely followed by the tech sector – ‘T and telecoms – which saw strong employment growth of 10.3 per cent, up from 6.5 per cent in the previous year.
And for the first time since these updates have been produced following the COVID pandemic, employment growth is now also positive across the vast majority of non-knowledge intensive, foundational sectors in our economy, for example, retail.
High-tech manufacturing was the KI sector that achieved the largest increase in employment growth over the past two years, rocketing from 1.3 per cent to 8.9 per cent.
Non-KI sectors, such as retail, transport and construction, also contributed to the overall employment surge, with a higher growth rate of 4.5 per cent in 2022-23, compared to 3.4 per cent in 2021-22.
Drilling down further, South Cambridgeshire witnessed a remarkable 9.1 per cent increase in overall employment across all sectors in 2022-23, up significantly from four per cent in the previous year. Employment growth in Cambridge was also strong at 7.6 per cent, though slightly lower than the 9.2 per cent growth observed in the previous year.
Produced by the Centre for Business Research at the University of Cambridge and sponsored by the Greater Cambridge Partnership and Cambridge Ahead, the update highlights Greater Cambridge's corporate economic strength and adaptability, with a remarkable trajectory of growth and continued post-pandemic recovery in various key sectors, despite concerns nationally about a potential UK recession.
Dan Thorp, CEO, Cambridge Ahead said: “These figures tell a story of a strong economy that brings more and more high quality jobs to the city region every year and, given the sectors this growth is coming from, is a jewel in the crown of the overall UK economy.”
Greater Cambridge Partnership Executive Board Member, and Cambridgeshire County Councillor, Elisa Meschini added: “The continued growth of the Greater Cambridge job market is a reflection of how strong we are as a place – leading the resurgence of the UK economy.
“This research shows that it is not just in our traditional areas of strength like life sciences and high-tech that employment is growing but also in the supporting sectors such as retail and construction. This is providing the balance of skills, experience and opportunities for people who live here now or who wish to relocate.
“As we digest these figures it is key to understand why all sectors are firing up – we believe it is because Cambridge is becoming the national and international centre we hoped it would become but we need to investigate further.
“The big challenge is clear – how do we sustain this growth and ensure that people have the homes, necessary transport and education opportunities to seize the roles which are being created? This is something we all must work together on.”
Cambridge Ahead is calling for recognition of the fact that if critical infrastructure – like transport – is not delivered, it will seriously negatively impact the quality of life of existing and new communities alike.
Congestion across transport modes, housing unaffordability, and usage of resources like water and energy would be driven up unsustainably, to the detriment of residents, by not delivering new infrastructure at the same time as more and more jobs are being created here.