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Highly skilled workforces in Bristol and Cardiff makes South West and Wales contenders for Channel 4 headquarters

The significant availability of skilled workers in Bristol and Cardiff could push these two cities up the list of favourites to become the home of Channel 4’s new regional headquarters, according to a commercial property specialist.

A number of UK cities have submitted bids to become home to the broadcaster, including Bristol, Cardiff, Birmingham, Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, and Sheffield.

However, Tim Davies, head of the South West and Wales for global real estate services company Colliers International believes Bristol and Cardiff have the edge when it comes to meeting all the criteria set out by Channel 4, which will reveal its shortlist on May 30 and then announce its final decision later this year.
“The skilled workers available in Bristol and Cardiff set these two cities apart from others,” he said.

Channel 4 is seeking a regional city for a new national headquarters, to which it will move 300 jobs as part of its ‘4 All the UK’ strategy, which will be the biggest change to the structure of the organisation in its 35-year history. It has also estimated that its new regional emphasis on programming spend will support up to an estimated 3,000 production jobs in the creative industries outside London.

The broadcaster’s requirements include cities with a working population of at least 200,000 and availability of existing and future talent. These cities need to have good digital and physical connectivity and infrastructure, and be located less than three hours away from London.

Mr Davies said that while a number of cities met these criteria, Bristol and Cardiff take top spot for availability of skilled workforce which will be a key consideration for Channel 4.

He said: “Data produced by the Centre for Cities shows the proportion of the population with high skills is 44% in Bristol and 46% in Cardiff, compared to 28% in Birmingham, and 34% in both Leeds and Sheffield.”

Mr Davies predicted that Bristol and Cardiff would stand out from other cities seeking to be the new headquarters for Channel 4 for the same reasons that other companies have been locating to them.

“The commercial property markets in both Bristol and Cardiff have been strengthening in recent years because they are attractive locations for business, and the same factors that have been bringing in other companies will be of relevance to Channel 4,” he said

“Both cities have skilled workforces, international airports, good rail and motorway connections, regenerated harbour and inner city areas, and have a range of cultural and sporting offerings.

“The Bristol office of Colliers International recently produced statistics underlining how the city benefits particularly from skills in TMT (Technology Media and Telecommunications), with the first quarter of 2018 seeing this sector account for 59% of office deals in Bristol city centre.

“However, in some ways Bristol is becoming a victim of its own success as demand for office and industrial space has resulted in low supply levels. Since effectiveness and efficiency of available office space is something Channel 4 will be taking into consideration, this could be to Cardiff’s advantage.”