Posted on October 3, 2017 by staff

Metro mayors’ tech credentials: James Palmer


There is an imbalance in his constituency that James Palmer wants to address.

Cambridge, home to the likes of ARM Holdings and Bluetooth chip maker CSR, is a technology world leader, with particular expertise in microchip technology – producing tech we use on a daily basis in our mobile phones.

While Peterborough, in the opposite side of the area, boasts high employment levels and low wages, Cambridge offers high wages but an unsustainable housing market that is driving people away.

A three-bed semi-detached in Peterborough costs, on average, £500,000 less than it would in Cambridge. Yet, to add to the issue, transport is not up to scratch, Palmer says.

“The problem with Cambridgeshire is we’ve got a massive north/south divide,” he told BusinessCloud. “The answer is infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure – we’ve got to get people moving around the county so we can give them a choice on where they can live.”

While Cambridge is already a tech leader, there is still work to be done.

“We’re trying to cement Cambridge’s position as a world leader in these areas and make it so that Cambridgeshire as a whole is world leading,” he said.

The city will create thousands of new digital and tech jobs in the next four years and Palmer says transport links need to be improved to enable people to take them up.

“Often trains are only every two hours and the last one is at 7pm, meaning people can’t commute from the north to the south,” he said.

“We need to spread people around the county to create corridors for success. These tech businesses are coming up with ideas and having them manufactured elsewhere.

“We need to bring people to work to fill the spaces created.”

During his first 100 days as mayor, Palmer met with tech businesses to discuss his growth agenda plans, which also include raising skills levels and encouraging more young people onto apprenticeships.

“We need to create a workforce for the 21st century that can service the companies in this part of the country,” he added.

Area: Cambridge

Mayor: James Palmer

Digital jobs: 30,219

Digital GVA: £867m

Digital tech turnover: £2.1bn

Average advertised digital salary: £46,730

Tech employers: ARM, Samsung, Qualcomm

Famous for: Its digital tech cluster and producing some of the UK’s most successful business including Acorn Computers in 1978 and Raspberry Pi in 2012. Apple has opened an AI lab in the city after acquiring a university spin-out.