Liveable cities attract, grow and retain talent

I believe Cardiff can be Europe’s most liveable capital city.

For me the fundamental quality of a liveable city is its ability to grow, attract and retain talented people.

I was therefore excited to be guided around the first phase of Cardiff and Vale College’s new £45m state-of-the-art campus by the Principal Mike James.  The project has been part-funded through a £20m grant from the Welsh Government and has also received ongoing support from officials from the City of Cardiff.

This campus is great news for Cardiff.

It’s located next to the railway and bus station, so is easy to access from across the city and the wider region.

It’s in the heart of the Central Enterprise Zone, and so is on the doorstep of many of the city’s major employers.

It’s right next door to some of our most deprived communities in Cardiff, where people need the skills and access to jobs most urgently.

It will also create a renewed sense of vitality in this part of the city, kick-starting the regeneration of Dumballs Road and creating exciting opportunities to improve the linkages between our city centre and the Cardiff Bay waterfront.

Most importantly of all, it will provide a platform for young people to learn the skills they need to fulfil their potential in Cardiff and so it was encouraging to hear more about some of the exciting projects the College has included within the new building, including a new public restaurant and hair salon, which will give students real life experience as part of their studies.

Access to great leisure and cultural opportunity, alongside a strong sense of cultural identity, are also vital components of any renowned liveable city.

As a capital city – with two official languages – Cardiff has an important point of cultural differentiation that other cities are not lucky enough to possess.  We have also developed excellent cultural infrastructure and have a world-class cultural and creative sector.

There are challenges – for example, last week I blogged about how the Council will need to manage its arts venues differently in the future – and it’s also true that funding for the arts has been particularly affected over recent years.

But my view is that we need to respond positively to these challenges.

I was therefore enthused to meet with representatives of the city’s arts community earlier this week to hear their views on how and where the city needs to direct its efforts.

The City Council will bring the reduced resources it has available to the table but will increasingly look to the cultural community to co-create solutions a new way forward.

And this new approach will need to focus on showcasing the city’s creative talent to the world, as well as attracting international talent to Cardiff. 

This is something we have already begun to do with Cardiff Contemporary. The Festival, which has been developed in partnership with Cardiff’s visual art, design and architecture communities, will give a platform for the best Welsh and international talent to be displayed across the city in October.

Finally, I’m looking forward to another big sporting weekend in the city, with both the Heineken Cup Final and the Amlin Cup Final taking place in Cardiff.

Major sporting events have raised Cardiff’s international profile and brought millions of tourists in to the city. For example:

– The economic impact on Cardiff from the 2011 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals, both held in Cardiff, amounted to £24 million

– 84% of the 83,000 fans who attended both finals came from outside Wales

They are part of what makes Cardiff such a great place to live, and more importantly, I believe that they can inspire young, talented sportsmen and women to perform on the international stage themselves.

On that note, with one home-grown talent – Aaron Ramsey – scoring the winning goal in the FA Cup Final at Wembley last weekend, it would be great to see another – Gareth Bale – scoring the winner in this weekend’s European Champions League Final in Lisbon.