Reading a leading European magnet for a high skilled workforce

C4CContinent coverReading is ranked in the top 25 European cities for its high-skilled population and is competing strongly with its major European counterparts, according to a new report which compares 330 cities across 17 European countries.

In the Competing with the continent; how UK cities compare with their European counterparts report by think tank Centre for Cities, UK cities are compared to others in Europe based on employment, skills, innovation and productivity. Each city is compared to the five most similar European cities in terms of size and industrial structure. The report categorises Reading as a medium-sized city with a large business services sector, small manufacturing sector and comparatively small public services sector.

Reading’s five comparative cities are Antwerp (Belgian port and diamond city), Malmo (Sweden’s third largest city), Geneva (Switzerland’s second most populous city, financial centre and home to many international organisations such as the United Nations), Basel (home to the Swiss chemical industry and banking) and Aix-en-Provence (France). The benchmark group explains how well Reading is competing on an international scale and its relative strengths and weaknesses compared to European counterparts.

In its comparator group of six cities, Reading emerges as the strongest with regard to high skilled population (and also 23rd best of all 330 cities in Europe). It is also top for employment rates (19th in Europe). Reading fares less well against its five counterparts in other comparisons, such as productivity per worker, total jobs and patent applications, but still ranks highly across the whole of Europe, despite being dwarfed in size/population by many of Europe’s cities. Of the benchmark group, Reading has the fourth smallest population. Highlights:-

  • High skilled population – 23/330
  • Concentration of business services – 4/330
  • GVA per worker (productivity) – 42/330, one of only six UK cities with a higher than average European productivity
  • Patent applications – 74/330
  • Employment rate – 19/330
  • Total jobs – 99/330

Hugo Bessis, lead report research at Centre for Cities, said: “Cities have always competed for investment, trade and talent. In recent decades, increasing globalisation and technological development has made this competition ever greater. So in order to continue to create jobs and wages for people living in and around them, cities need to be attractive beyond national borders. For the UK, the ability of its cities to attract investment will determine the success of the national economy as a whole.”

Nigel Horton-Baker, Executive Director of Reading UK CIC, said: “Reading’s continued economic success will, in large part, be based on the performance of its high-profile knowledge-based companies. Attracting and retaining staff with the right skills is the number one concern for many of these businesses. Reading’s ranking in the top 25 of Europe’s 330 cities for high-skilled workers shows how strong the talent pool is here and why Reading is so attractive to both people and companies working in these sectors.”

The report is available at


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