Glasgow top for tech, but city must evolve to support expanding talent base – Savills


IN A NEW report from Savills, launched today, Glasgow ranks number one in the UK for digital tech graduates, as Scotland’s largest city sees almost a quarter (23%) of all graduate jobs filled in the last 12 months in the technology sector (6000 graduate tech jobs).

In ‘Glasgow; A growing city’, Savills examines the city’s expanding skills and talent base that is future-proofing the local economy and shaping new development in the city. The firm reports, of all regions in Scotland, the Glasgow City Region economy is expected to recover more quickly than any other with a GVA predicted to grow by 25% over the next 15 years, compared to 13% over the previous 15 years.

Savills says growth is based on developing strengths in high productivity sectors such as financial services and the creative and technology sectors. With a global battle for talent,  Savills suggests Glasgow is now ‘at its absolute sharpest’ with 46%* of Glasgow City Region residents having a degree, well above the UK average of 38% and higher than in Manchester and Birmingham. Furthermore the city ranks in the top 10% of regions in Europe for the proportion of working age adults with at least a degree-level qualification.

Talent retention

Savills says Glasgow is now in the top three tech cities in the UK outside of London. The city saw total annual venture capital (VC) raised increase by 135% in 2021 to £43 million, with Savills reporting a further increase of 281% in 2022 YTD to just over £165 million. 

David Cobban, Savills head of office in Glasgow said: “Scotland has proven to be a highly successful ecosystem for high-growth companies and with Glasgow’s start-ups and highly skilled talent coming out of the universities our real estate plays a critical role in creating the right space where people want to live and work.”

Housing a growing workforce

Savills reports a sustained lack of new supply of homes for sale or rent over the best part of 10 years has led to a shortfall of housing stock in Glasgow City Centre. Indeed the lack of supply and latent unmet demand has led to 4.7% annual price rise here and 13% annual rental growth across the city as a whole in the 12 months to June 2022, according to Citylets.

Glasgow City Centre’s population has dropped between 2020 and 2021 according to the Scottish Government’s Population Estimates. Glasgow’s City Centre Living Strategy aims to double the city centre population by 2035, which Savills says will only be made possible with wider mixed-use regeneration to create vibrant places that people want to both live and work in.

Examining current travel times on foot and by public transport from Glasgow Central against future planned residential development, Savills says that while much is within 20 minutes (by foot or public transport), the north east corner of the city centre is less well connected.

Cameron Ewer, Savills Head of Residential in Scotland commented: “The area to the north east of the centre, around the University of Strathclyde, demonstrates the importance of connectivity if neighbourhoods are to be fit for purpose in a modern city. It is locations such as this, that are central but poorly accessed, which will need investment into pedestrian and cycling links with the wider city”.

Workspaces and creating destinations

Glasgow needs to move towards more sustainable buildings and infrastructure if its neighbourhoods are to become better places to live and work, says Savills. By redeveloping outdated space into flexible schemes that deliver a variety of uses it will be possible to meet the needs of Glasgow’s changing economy.

Savills points to the re-development of Buchanan Galleries as a unique opportunity to re-invigorate the city centre. This opportunity seeks to reconnect the area with its surroundings creating a new and exciting retail, leisure and cultural destination with new routes and public spaces within and through the site, the firm reports.  Office and residential uses at upper levels will create the vitality and viability to help refocus the role of the city centre.  This changing perspective is further evidenced by the restoration of Glasgow’s Met Tower, says Savills, a 14-storey Grade B listed building in the heart of the city centre, that is set to become a new hub for established and emerging tech and digital businesses.  At the southern end of Buchanan Street, the St Enoch Centre has undergone a revival with the introduction of new leisure uses helping drive the evening economy in this part of the city centre.

Alastair Wood, Savills head of planning in Scotland, added: “The role of Glasgow City Centre has to evolve as shopping and working patterns have changed for ever, large mixed-use developments will play a pivotal role in its transformation over the next decade.  The best schemes will focus on creating blended spaces that deliver the authentic, independent Glasgow experience which the city is known for.  In tandem as a city and as an industry, we will also have a collective responsibility to ensure that where possible existing buildings and those of historic significance, can also be repurposed to  help address the climate emergency and retain the historic character of the city centre”

*2019 figures

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