Birmingham leaders have told Nick Clegg they want to take control of training and apprenticeships from the government to help more people get jobs in the city.
The council has begun negotiations with the Deputy Prime Minister, after he pledged to take power away from London and put England’s eight “core cities” back in the driving seat.
In a major speech, Mr Clegg said the plans were “an unprecedented transfer of power” from Whitehall to Britain’s most important cities.
And he highlighted the importance of strong leadership in the Victorian era, when Birmingham’s mayor Joseph Chamberlain transformed the city.
Birmingham City Council has told the Government it wants to take control of training by commissioning services from skills providers, currently controlled by the Department of Work and Pensions in London, to ensure future employees are learning the skills local employers need. The authority also wants to introduce superfast broadband in the so-called Digital District, towards the east of the city centre.
And it is working with business leaders and neighbouring councils including Solihull to draw up plans for improved transport links in the area around the NEC and Birmingham Aiport, including Birmingham Business Park, Blythe Valley Park and Solihull Town Centre.
This ambitious scheme, called the M42 Economic Gateway, would be funded by borrowing money which would later be paid back using taxes paid by local employers.
Mr Clegg promised to Britain’s top cities “power over money, power over infrastructure, power to boost skills and jobs”.
But Ministers have also hinted that they are more likely to get these powers if they choose to create directly-elected mayors.
Birmingham will hold a referendum on May 3 next year on whether or not to replace the existing council system with a directly-elected mayor.
Recalling Birmingham’s reforming Liberal mayor Joseph Chamberlain, Mr Clegg said: “Liberals have always understood that a great nation is built on great cities. Chamberlain booted out the old guard and he launched a movement from within local government, cleaning up the rivers and streets, guaranteeing gas and water supplies, giving people galleries and parks, and ultimately creating a civilised city of which Brummies could be proud.”