Andrew Cooper: Young people are catalyst for city’s growth

TALENT POOL: Leeds Beckett University's city centre campus.
TALENT POOL: Leeds Beckett University's city centre campus.
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A key part to the success of Leeds is attracting and keeping young people to live, study and work in Leeds.

A recent report shows that from 2001-2011 the student population in Leeds grew by 150 per cent. They are the city’s future and the younger generations are choosing to live in Leeds city centre which is a catalyst for economic growth and vibrancy. Keeping this talent pool in Leeds is vital.

LeedsBID, the Business Improvement District in Leeds, funded by close to 1,000 of the 4,500 city centre businesses, has a significant part to play in supporting this talent pipeline and encouraging future and existing generations to consider Leeds as their place of choice to live and work.

Later this month (from July 16-20) we will welcome a new wave of talent into the city as more than 5,000 Leeds Beckett University students celebrate their graduation alongside 13,000 guests at Leeds Town Hall.

More than half of these graduates will remain in the Leeds city region, providing a steady stream of highly skilled graduates working at more than 1,400 different organisations. And alongside Leeds Beckett, we are fortunate to have a number of renowned higher educational institutions located in Leeds making this valuable contribution to the city’s talent pool.

With many high streets grappling with change, Leeds has seen real growth in the retail and leisure sectors. Retail and leisure accounts for 51% of city centre business and there are jobs and opportunities. In the UK we have a cultural challenge in that retail and restaurant jobs are seen as temp jobs rather than as a career. We need to change these perceptions and highlight the opportunities that exist for young people in these sectors.

In conjunction with property landlords and the local authority, LeedsBID is developing a Centre of Retail and Hospitality Excellence to support opportunities and training in this area. Alongside this, retailers and businesses can access our free digital skills training Leeds Boost (, providing bite-size, engaging sessions to empower people to reach their digital potential and support business growth.Providing clear opportunities for the next generation is instrumental in Leeds’ ongoing success as a major UK city. These projects highlight the importance of working collaboratively to get future and existing generations to choose Leeds.

Andrew Cooper is Chief Executive of LeedsBID (Business Improvement District).