According to Colliers International’s new Cities of Influence report, Manchester is one of the most influential cities for talent, location and costs because….

as the report states: “…. the combination of high scores for its strong latent talent/future skills pool, high affordability and low cost combine to move the market up the rankings. Good news for the Northern Powerhouse policymakers.”

Andrew McFarlane, director and head of the Manchester office of Colliers International, said: “Manchester has worked hard to build its reputation as an international city. Over the past 20-plus years it has steadily grown and developed into the global player that it is today and that momentum is still building as Manchester cements its place at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse. What is encouraging about this report is that what has been clear to many in Manchester for several years is increasingly being recognised by a global audience. Manchester’s best days lie ahead.”

Colliers’ Cities of Influence report features a ‘TLC’ index in which 20 major individual economic cities are ranked in terms of Talent, Location and Cost. These factors have been categorised based on the size and orientation of economic output and the workforce; the capacity and skill-set of the latent and emerging talent pool; the cost and affordability of the city - as a place to live and save, and in terms of the cost of labour and total cost of office occupation; and finally, the country risk associated with the market, and the inherent risk/challenges presented by labour laws.

Here are some of the highlights of the index:

  • Throughout the analysis, London and Paris hold the top two spots, primarily because of their size.
  • Outside of the big two markets, Manchester, Stockholm and Dublin are the three cities which feature most highly at 3rd, 4th and 5th place, respectively.
  • Paris is the leading market when it comes to output/orientation, future skills and capacity and affordability/cost. Paris scores particularly strongly when it comes to the size/experience of the latent talent pool, driven by higher levels of short-term unemployment than those available in London. Yet when it comes to the final results, factoring in market risk, London takes the reins.
  • The UK’s labour laws are far more relaxed in London than in Paris, which has been a major driver of businesses location decisions in favour of London. 
  • Stockholm comes in at number four, as a steady strong performer throughout all sectors. The current orientation of the economy and the skills/experience of the inherent workforce put the market at the forefront when it comes to building a digitally sophisticated economy.
  • Dublin also does very well, for very similar reasons. Strong English language skills and proficiency are also a clear advantage for these cities over other European locations, as are the more liberal, transparent labour markets in situ. Dublin actually has a higher English language proficiency ratio than multi-cultural London, second only to Manchester.
  • Madrid and Barcelona both have strong affordability/cost scores, and high latent talent pools, but suffer from a high country/labour market risk factor. This knocks Madrid from 3rd to 8th, and Barcelona from 7th to 16th.
  • Munich only hit the top five once but cost/affordability and future talent factors prevent it from staying in this position.
  • Most surprising is the continual low score of Berlin, but an examination of the workforce/economic orientation of the city highlights an over-dependence on the public sector, despite all the positive growth surrounding the development of tech, media and telecoms operators in the city.
  • Frankfurt suffers primarily from a lack of capacity, and being relatively expensive, compared to other European cities.
    • The bottom ranking markets features Milan, Budapest and Brussels. Both Brussels and Milan are hindered by high relative costs, and high country market risk. Brussels (Belgium) has the weakest score of all countries from a labour market regulation perspective, and post the Italian referendum, this position is not much better for Milan. The Budapest score is also hindered by high country risk, but limited economic output/market orientation and future skills/ capacity also play a role.

Damian Harrington, Director Head of EMEA Research at Colliers International, added: “Some occupiers will be more focused or interested in one component over another and thus the overall weightings and scores could change according to these preferences. For example, occupiers driven by cost may see the southern European and CEE markets as more attractive than their northern and western European counterparts. Alternatively, occupiers focused on a digitally sophisticated workforce will be more tempted by Stockholm and Prague than Barcelona or Brussels.”