The Northern economy has the potential to benefit from an additional £100 billion gross value add over the next three decades, and in doing so an additional 850,000 jobs could be created.

That’s the conclusion of a report out today from the Northern Power House Partnership. Fail to take this opportunity, they say, and the North will fall further behind and the UK economy will become even more unbalanced and one of the critical measures needed to be addressed is education.

The Partnership, formed by former Chancellor George Osborne says that in order for the North to be more competitive, urgent attention must be given to improving: the performance and aspiration of the North’s schools; the quality of adult skills; the east-west transport infrastructure that connects key Northern cities and Manchester Airport as well as its connectivity to the South; fibre and broadband provision; attractiveness to business investment; and the overall level of ambition in its local decision making.

The report also outlines how getting communities to work more closely together will enable the North to become greater than its individual parts and create a prosperous economic powerhouse that has the critical mass to drive a wealth of opportunities.

George Osborne said:

“There is a real excitement across the North at present. The Northern Powerhouse initiative, which I launched two years ago, has already shifted the North into a new gear. Over the past few months I have met hundreds of business leaders across the North and visited new investment projects. The Northern Powerhouse is real and together we can transform the economy of the North of England.

“Now we are at a turning point for the North of England. We can either make use of the momentum behind the Northern Powerhouse to really close the north/south gap – or we can let the moment pass, and leave our country divided and the North left behind. Get it right and the Northern economy will be £100bn bigger, with more jobs and higher living standards for all.

“What makes this Report from our Northern Powerhouse Partnership different is that it is a plan of action worked on, developed by and now proposed by the North itself. Across the private and public sector, and across the political parties, we’ve worked on a common approach. It starts with the listening we’ve been doing to the voices of many Northern businesses and civic institutions over recent months.

“Many issues have been raised with us – from transport connections to devolution. But one challenge stood out: education. Our education system, right the way from the start of school to higher education, must provide the next generation with the skills, inspiration and training to fulfil their goals and build our economy.

“There is now overwhelming evidence that attainment at 16 is too low in the North, leaving us lagging behind the UK and international competitors. We also let go of far too many talented graduates. I will be asking a group of leading employers and education leaders to work together with the Partnership to draw on the latest evidence and thinking to examine a number of key issues to put this right.

“As the Government takes forward its Industrial Strategy, which commits significant funding to regions across the North, we need to play our full part, with the infrastructure, skills and leadership to compete fully.”­

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