However, in order for this to be realised, not only does the north of England need to be used as an industrial wealth generating hub, but needs to be perceived as such. Therefore, we need to look some of the reasons certain countries/regions have grown into industrially productive hubs and how their infrastructure, a major component of investment attraction, has facilitated this process.
When any discussion of northern participation in economic growth is engaged into by politicians, the first and often only ideology put forward is the notion of a high speed rail link between the highly productive regions in the south and the less productive north. The rail link may contribute in the UK realising its growth potential, however, what is really required is investment in the heart of the areas concerned. The government needs to look at the northern infrastructure in these areas which for many decades have been lacking and seek to improve transport there. It is inconceivable that these areas with such vast lands have been ignored but the real requirements are jobs. With low investment in these areas, job potential is limited. But which comes first? Does a highly skilled and motivated workforce create investment and more jobs or does investment itself create more jobs.
To understand investment decisions, one can turn to other countries, for example Denmark to understand why companies invest. This is done for several reasons, for example, the people and their lifestyles as well as eager, productive and knowledgeable staff. Lifestyles in the southern regions are somewhat different with people in the north seemingly having more time and space than their southern counterparts. This is a clear advantage. Investors thought of Copenhagen as a “consensus culture” that was good at teamwork and as a sophisticated, democratic, compassionate, and design-oriented place. They also thought of Copenhagen as a place where people were highly productive. China has also experienced major growth, parts of which can be explained by urbanisation into areas where people are working and ready to spend.
The UK government needs to re-engineer funds to not just regenerate the north but to build an environment which attracts investors and hence wealth. The housing problem of the south with exorbitant house prices can be alleviated with the north utilising its vast lands for building projects. Construction is a prodigious contributor to a country’s wealth. Britain has largely been released from the reigns of its manufacturing industries of the past and has become a prominent service industry. Service industries tend to be easier to set up and less costly and together with more than a more than desirous workforce in the north, the government should be dedicating funds to revive these areas. Significant funding would be required for air travel in these areas to facilitate the movement of goods and services.
As a result, the already condensed southern areas would be alleviated of its dense population and in turn, would hopefully slow down the pace of the price of land/housing which is desperately required in the UK. Many areas of the north are also tourist destinations – tourism being one of the UK’s highest earners. If measures are taken to fund northern areas, the UK could realise its fullest growth potential and induce labour mobility into northern areas where many people have too often favoured as far as lifestyles are concerned but have been confined to southern regions principally due to favourable southern employment obligations.
Dr. Victor Chukwuemeka
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