East Asian cities could create more than 7m new jobs each year if they boosted infrastructure and improved skills and the regulatory environment, claims a new World Bank report.
The report, Competitive Cities for Jobs and Growth: What, Who and How, looks at how the world’s successful cities have achieved their growth. It found cities did best by perfecting existing skills rather than completely overhauling themselves.
East Asian cities have grown faster than anywhere else in the world in recent years and are likely to keep expanding.
“To spur growth and become successful, cities must focus on expanding existing firms, creating new ones, and attracting investors in order to create more jobs, increase incomes of citizens, and grow,” said Anabel Gonzalez, senior director of the World Bank Group’s global trade and competitiveness practice.
The world’s most competitive cities are not only global centres of commerce, the report found, but include secondary cities that are experiencing rapid industrialisation, such as Changsha in China.
Changsha has experienced per capita GDP growth from $3,500 in 2000 to more than $15,000 in 2012, leapfrogging from lower-middle-income to high-income status in a decade.
The report said linking infrastructure investments with private sector needs, zeroing in on the skills gaps, and making sure private and public sector industries supported each other were all factors which led to cities becoming more competitive.
It cited other successful competitive cities, such as Saltillo in Mexico, Meknes and Tangier in Morocco, Coimbatore in India, Gaziantep in Turkey, Bucaramanga in Colombia and Onitsha in Nigeria.
The report found in these cities business leaders were consulted about their needs and the constraints they encountered and infrastructure investments were made in collaboration with the firms and the industries they aimed to serve.
Skills initiatives based on firm’s practical needs and commercial support of industries with genuine potential also played an important role in their growth.