BRADFORD will have to increase the value of its economy by £4bn and get 22,000 more people into work if it is to meet national rates of productivity and employment.

That’s according to ‘Growing Together’’ - Bradford Council’s latest draft economic growth strategy for 2017 to 2030.

The Council has worked with the University of Bradford, Bradford Chamber of Commerce and Producer City to develop the strategy, which pinpoints action needed to boost the economy.

Producer City was established in 2013 as a way to put Bradford on the map as the best place for business and as a city ready to compete in the global economy.

While a finalised version is to be released in the coming weeks, the draft framework shines a spotlight on what is needed for Bradford to compete on a level playing field.

It highlights a £4bn productivity gap on a national level and a £1.3bn gap on regional level.

And if Bradford’s employment rate is to reach the national level of 74 per cent, from 67.3 per cent, then 22,000 more people need to enter work.

It also sets out a target to increase the percentage of working-age people qualified to at least Level 3 in line with, or better than, the England average.

Bradford has 136,000 work-age people with NVQ3 and above - a rate of 42 per cent compared to the England rate of 56.7 per cent. This means that an extra 47,700 people would need to be trained.

And while the city has a young population, it doesn’t ‘keep’ enough 26 to 34-year-olds.

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, the portfolio holder for regeneration, stressed that Bradford has a “fast growing” economy worth more than £9.5bn and was optimistic about the future.

He said: “We’ll continue to build on our strengths, working with the public and voluntary sector to create the right conditions for growth, and support businesses wanting to invest and expand in the district.

“We’re part of the Leeds City Region which has been a massive asset for Bradford in campaigning for more funding to improve transport infrastructure, Wi-Fi connections and excellent apprenticeship schemes which all combine to make this a great city to grow a business.

“We’re working hard to improve educational attainment in the district and closing the gap nationally but we know there is more to do.

“Our Get Working scheme – a pioneering employment and skills programme – has supported the unemployed and boosted skill levels which has resulted in enabling more than 2,000 people into employment in recent years.

“And in Bradford, unemployment levels for young people aged 16-18 are lower than anywhere else in West Yorkshire. We’re proud we are the youngest city in the UK and see our young people as a massive investment in the future.

“We really want to develop our assets and build on the opportunities that lie ahead.”

Councillor Simon Cooke, leader of the opposition Conservative Group, said it was important to recognise weaknesses the district has, and faces, but that many of the things which impact business investment were not always things the Council could control.

He highlighted the importance of devolution, of getting skill levels in the city up and showing people that Bradford “has a future”.

Cllr Cooke said: “One of Bradford’s problems is that while lots of people see lots of good stuff, when you ask them what they think, the response is not always very positive.

He said: “One of the jobs we have to do is work with the people who live here to persuade them that there is a huge amount of opportunity in the city and it’s a place with a future.”

Mark Goldstone, head of business, representation and policy for West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said everyone has a role to play in ‘bridging’ the gap.

“The Chamber has worked closely with Bradford Council and its partners on the development of the draft growth strategy and has welcomed the open approach taken to design a strategy which all business can buy into and support,” he said.

“The strategy is based on solid data and recognises the challenges the city currently faces around productivity and the need for economic growth which benefits all parts of our city."

“The research has also highlighted a number of key strengths and quantified their impact on the wider economy, including strengths in advanced manufacturing and the strong synergies with our near neighbours in Leeds where there is one of the highest levels of daily, two way, cross border travel to work patterns in the country.

“Closing the gap between Bradford’s current economic output and the national average will make a significant impact to the lives of citizens but in order to achieve this, collectively the Council, business and community all have a role to play.

“The Chamber will be encouraging its members to support the ambition set out in the final report.”

Cllr Jeanette Sunderland, leader of the Council's Liberal Democrat group, said solutions were needed to find a way to keep young people in Bradford by making it a good place to live and reducing crime.

She added that there needed to be a focus on raising standards in schools and “not allowing schools to throw out pupils they don’t want”.