Is Norwich a fine city to work in?

Sunset over Norwich. Pictured from Britannia Road.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Sunset over Norwich. Pictured from Britannia Road. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Those of us who live here know and love the Norwich way of life – but it can be hard for businesses to persuade people with the skills they need to move to our city.

Poor transport infrastructure and a lack of knowledge about the developing tech and research industries are among the reasons which are preventing firms from hiring the right people to enable them to expand.

The Norwich Society has published a report examining causes why 73pc of employers found it hard to attract talented people to the city – and it seems that is because people don't know enough about what the city has to offer.

Many of those who moved to the area were surprised by how much there was to do.

Paul Burall, chairman of The Norwich Society's strategic planning and transport committee, said it was concerning how many businesses were struggling to hire workers with the skills they needed.

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He said: 'I think the fact is that people from outside Norwich tend to see us as a very sleepy place.

'A lot of their perceptions are entirely wrong, we have got good shopping, and are a tech and R&D [research and development] hub and so on. We have got to find a balance between attracting tourists and visitors who want to see a historical city with a cathedral and old streets and telling people that we have a tech hub as well.'

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Mr Burall said while the society was the wrong organisation to take a lead on the issue, it was considering organising a conference to bring agencies together to tackle the problem.

Transport was the biggest issue highlighted by the report, with a perception of a lack of opportunities and relatively low pay also preventing people from moving.

Designer Jane Vance, 30, from Norwich. Picture: SOPHIE WYLLIE

Designer Jane Vance, 30, from Norwich. Picture: SOPHIE WYLLIE - Credit: SOPHIE WYLLIE

According to the report, Cambridge is perceived by businesses as the major competitor when it comes to staff, over London, despite the cost of buying a home being lower in Norfolk.

One suggestion put forward by Mr Burall is to create better rail links to Cambridge.

Chris Starkie, managing director of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said: 'This report outlines a number of challenges for business recruitment and we are working with partners to help tackle these barriers to growth.

'For example, significant investments in transport and infrastructure, including the dualling of the A11, future improvements to the A47 and A12 and the faster trains promised with the new Greater Anglia rail franchise, highlight the commitment of the LEP and public and private sector partners to campaigning for improved connectivity.'

Adam Williams, 31, from Queen's Hills in Costessey, who works in IT for Aviva. Picture: SOPHIE WYLLI

Adam Williams, 31, from Queen's Hills in Costessey, who works in IT for Aviva. Picture: SOPHIE WYLLIE - Credit: SOPHIE WYLLIE

He added: 'Of course there are already many positive projects which are really putting us on the map.

'TechEast has recently launched its London Embassy, which puts our region's tech sector firmly at the centre of the national agenda, and the world-first International Aviation Academy in Norwich will position the city at the leading edge of this exciting and growing industry.'

What you thought

John Roberston, 45, of Russell Avenue in Sprowston, who works as a business analyst for Aviva. Pictu

John Roberston, 45, of Russell Avenue in Sprowston, who works as a business analyst for Aviva. Picture: SOPHIE WYLLIE - Credit: SOPHIE WYLLIE

Designer Jane Vance, 30, from Foolproof design agency on Queen Street, Norwich, said: 'It is very easy to work in Norwich. The cost of living is relatively low and the quality of life is quite high.' Miss Vance, from Norwich, added a lot of people did not associate the city with digital technology. 'People in design feel they need to go to London,' she added. She said there were employment opportunities in the city but it was sometimes difficult to find out about them. 'We need outside talent because it is difficult to recruit for the roles available.' She added people in their 20s left Norwich for employment reasons but more people aged 31-40 returned to the area for work and stayed.

John Robertson, 45, of Russell Avenue in Sprowston, works as a business analyst for Aviva. He said he had worked for the insurance giant for 29 years and it offered a variety of roles and the pay was competitive.

Mr Robertson, who has two children, said: 'Norwich as a city is a safe place to be.' He added it was a good area to work, live and bring up a family in because of its surrounding countryside.

Adam Williams, 31, from Queen's Hills, in Costessey, works in the IT department for Aviva.

He said: 'I love working in Norwich. It is handy being right in the centre. There are decent jobs in Norwich. There is plenty about and companies are always looking out for people to work for them.'

Gina McAully, 39, from Costessey, works in marketing for Aviva. She described Norwich as a 'buzzing' city as well as a good place for families. Miss McAully said: 'I feel really proud of Norwich. There is lots to do here.'

Alison Hurren, 44, from Costessey, works as a marketing consultant for Aviva. She said: 'Norwich is a great place to be.' Mrs Hurren praised the bus links into the city.

A 45-year-old business professional from Thorpe St Andrew, who did not want to be identified, said it was difficult to attract people to work in Norwich.

But he said once they had started at a firm in the city, the rate at which they left was low.

He said: 'We find that we have got good talent from the graduates and postgraduates University of East Anglia. We find the talent pool is limited but once we get people here they realise Norfolk and Norwich is a great place to live. I have lived in Norwich since I was 17 and it is a great place to achieve a good work life balance.' He said Cambridge remained an attractive area because of its digital industry and start-up businesses.

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