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Cardiff is one of the fastest growing cities in the UK. The city has recently experienced massive growth in the service sector, with financial services and the creative industries sectors in particular epitomising the shift in the city’s economic focus. Finance, IT, and business activities currently employ around 50,000 people in Cardiff, around a quarter of the city’s workforce.

The city also faces a number of challenges and opportunities posed by its increasingly diverse population. Full-time higher education students account for 10% of total population. Over the past three years, some 5,000 people have arrived in the city as economic migrants. Over this same period, 111 different nationalities registered for National Insurance purposes in Cardiff, with the greatest numbers coming from India, Poland, Pakistan, Slovak Republic, Spain and France.

Recent Annual Population Survey data suggested that around 30,500 people, or 10% of the Cardiff population, were born outside the UK. Over its course of development, the city has benefited significantly from welcoming new migrants.
As well as the clear economic benefits, migration has also contributed to Cardiff’s cosmopolitan character. New migrants, however, can also raise issues for service provision linked to employment, housing, communications, healthcare and education.

Subsequently, Cardiff Council has recognised that it needs to work with public service providers and employers in the city to ensure that newly arrived migrants can integrate with city life. Cardiff’s Community Strategy 2007-2012, sets out the long-term vision for Cardiff, and outlines the arrangements that will enable the strategy to be delivered.
The Community Strategy Vision is “to ensure that Cardiff is a world class European capital city with an exceptional ‘quality of life’ and at the heart of a competitiv city region.”.

Cardiff has always been proactive in helping migrants settle into city life. Recently employers have worked with migrant workers to help them with their language skills.
One such example can be found at Memory Lane Cakes, one of the city’s largest manufacturers. Many of the newly employed workers had little command of the English language, but with the aid of the Council’s Community Education team, Memory Lane was able to introduce a series of English language classes to enable staff to improve language and literacy skills. The Cardiff Economic Strategy also recognises the contribution of inward migration.

Through the OPENCities project Cardiff will explore how the city can broaden its international outlook, and how it can become a more attractive place to live and work. The city’s involvement in the project will help to ensure that Cardiff remains a vibrant and cosmopolitan capital, helping to attract and retain a skilled workforce, and promoting an integrated community life that will benefit all our citizens.

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The OPENCities Monitor is conducted by BAK. BAK Economics AG (BAK) is an independent Swiss research institute.