Birmingham is being run by outsiders because most people living in the city lack the skills necessary for managerial jobs, a survey has revealed.
More than a third of the 451,000 jobs in Birmingham are taken by commuters who travel in daily from the West Midlands and the shire counties.
And 131,000 of those - 28 per cent of the total - are in well-paid managerial, professional, technical and supervisory sectors.
The figures, published by the city council’s economic strategy unit, underline growing concerns about the skills gap.
Support packages targeted on areas of social deprivation by public agencies have made little difference to a worrying trend.
Although good GCSE passes have risen in city schools, about 22 per cent of the working age population still has no academic or vocational qualifications compared with 15 per cent for the UK as a whole.
Birmingham also has a significantly lower proportion of the working age population educated to degree level, with the city’s three universities struggling to prevent students from leaving the city to take jobs in other parts of the country when they graduate.
Only 30 per cent of graduates attempt to find work in Birmingham and the West Midlands, according to recent research.
Birmingham’s employment rate, with only 63 per cent of the working population in a job, is sharply below the national rate of 74 per cent.
Several wards in Birmingham are among the poorest anywhere in Great Britain, with unemployment approaching 30 per cent.
Veronica Docherty, head of economic strategy at the council, admitted: “The relatively poor level of skills of the resident population is one of the barriers holding Birmingham’s employment rate down and contributing to worklessness.”
The latest survey suggests future growth in the jobs market will be concentrated in high-income, skilled knowledge-intensive managerial and professional occupations. Birmingham’s booming legal and financial services sectors expect thousands of new jobs to be created over the next 10 years, although it is questionable how many will be filled by people living in the city.
Ms Docherty’s report says it is “vital” that the skills levels of the resident population are increased.
The document states: “It is necessary for the right conditions, including the housing offer, to be created to encourage and retain highly skilled people who want to live and spend in Birmingham rather than live outside of the city and commute in.”
The report was tabled alongside research from Birmingham Chamber of Commerce which found that employers are having to offer basic training in literacy and numeracy skills to new employees.
Chamber chief executive Jerry Blackett said he wasn’t surprised that so many professional services employees travelled into Birmingham from Solihull and the shire counties, but insisted things were changing.
“We have to build the infrastructure and make the city attractive so that professional families want to live in Birmingham We are making great strides but more needs to be done,” Mr Blackett added.
Council chief executive Stephen Hughes said Local Area Agreements between public authorities, businesses and the Government, which offer financial rewards in return for meeting targets to improve skills and reduce unemployment and deprivation, would make a big difference.
However, Mr Hughes said the council could only do so much to put the right infrastructure in place for economic prosperity.
It was “in the hands of the business community” to create employment opportunities.
But he admitted: “If we don’t tackle the skills gap we won’t have suitable employees to take on the new jobs and the business sector will invest elsewhere.”
The pace of change is proving frustrating for some city councillors.
Len Clark (Con Quinton) said Birmingham was still trying to deal with economic problems that first surfaced in the 1970s.
He said council forecasts proposed to offer training to 30,000 people a year, yet only 5,000 new jobs were likely to be created annually.
Coun Tahir Ali (Lab Nechells), who represents a ward with some of the worst unemployment in Birmingham, said: “Worklessness in some areas is eight times the national average and our targets for addressing this are not good enough.”