Today’s columnist: Sharin Squires - Game-changing solutions for Sheffield

Sharon Squires.
Sharon Squires.
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The State of Sheffield 2015 report has important messages for everyone living, working, studying and interested in Sheffield.

The report tells the story of how the city is changing, how it compares to other cities, and how it is responding to local, national and international challenges and opportunities.

The report outlines the positives as well as the challenges facing Sheffield.

The city is growing in population, employment rates are good, more students are coming to study here and the quality of life is generally high.

But the key challenges, outlined in previous reports, lie in the economic productivity of Sheffield and Sheffield city region and the level of inequality and financial vulnerability across the city and region. Too many people find it hard to pay the bills.

The debate now needs to focus on what the city and city region needs to do to address these challenges effectively and quickly.

The Local Enterprise Partnership has produced an economic growth strategy for the region, focused on business growth, more and better jobs, inward investment, improving skills and improving infrastructure.

There are also significant new city initiatives around such things, including apprenticeships, vocational learning, improving school attainment, careers guidance, graduate retention and support for young unemployed.

Alongside this, lots of work is under way across the city focused on reducing inequalities, ranging from a campaign for the living wage and against the use of zero hours contracts, to redesigning public services.

But will all this activity be enough? The State of Sheffield report suggests that Sheffield needs to seriously consider its future in the context of the Northern Powerhouse (Manchester, Leeds, and Sheffield).

How do the three cities work effectively together bringing mutual benefit? The report also suggests Sheffield needs to concentrate on the opportunities and risks of devolution. Would it be better if Sheffield could design its own approach to public services such as education, further education, health and social care, skills and training, transport, housing and policing?

Together the city needs to focus on game-changing solutions for the future.