After Covid19: The long recovery

This publication synthesises a range of quantitative and qualitative data to investigate and better understand the long-term economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. It was published in 2020 by City-REDI (The West Midlands Regional Economic Development Institute), and covers issues such as the threat of mass unemployment; lifelong learning; transport; the future of towns and cities; international trade; and innovation.

Date added 17 August 2021
Last updated 17 August 2021

This 2020 publication from City-REDI at the University of Birmingham explores the long-term economic impacts of Covid-19, with a focus on the threat of mass unemployment and lifelong learning; transport; the future of towns and cities; international trade; and innovation. Key messages regarding each of these topics are summarised below.

The future of towns and cities – Rebecca Riley

Rebecca Riley discusses the future of towns and cities. She asserts towns and cities were already experiencing changes before Covid-19, which have now been accelerated, such as people’s desires for more personalised and ethical businesses. For places to recover from the pandemic, Riley argues for the importance of investing in community leadership training and skills development; meaningful community engagement when making future decisions about our towns and cities; of a place understanding its unique selling point; better green, blue, and cycling infrastructure; and designing places which foster community interaction.

Youth unemployment – Prof. Anne Green

Professor Anne Green explores the threat of mass unemployment from the Covid-19 crisis, with a focus on youth. Green argues that, whilst pre-pandemic we were seeing shifts in the youth labour market, “...what is different about the Covid-19 crisis was the shutdown of sectors such as hospitality and non-food retailing which play an important role in facilitating labour market entry and gaining work experience for young people” (p.11). She argues local authorities can play an important role in building local employment support for young people, alongside new national government initiatives.

Lifelong learning – Dr. Abigail Taylor

Moving beyond the focus on young people, Dr. Anne Taylor questions how lifelong learning can be fostered for all age group to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. She outlines several government initiatives to encourage learning, before exploring statistics relating to unemployment after lockdown, explaining how April-June 2020 the UK saw the biggest quarterly fall in employment since the 2008/2009 economic crisis, especially for routine jobs. She argues for the importance of lifelong learning for both recovering from the pandemic, as well as in the longer term gaining skills needed for the new digital world.

Transport – Dr. Magda Cepeda Zorrilla

Dr. Magda Capeda Zorrilla explores the impact of Covid-19 on urban mobility, in terms of the adaptations needed to reduce air pollutants and reduce contact rate. She presents four key recommendations of how towns and cities can adapt to the pandemic: service adjustments (cashless operations, back-door boarding, occupancy limits); changes in infrastructure (shared e-bikes and scooter schemes, cycling infrastructure); behavioural changes (reducing fears about public transport virus transmission); and research (more collaboration between academia and the public sector to research the future of urban mobility).

International trade – Matthew Lowe

Whilst recognising the importance of localism during the Covid-19 pandemic, Matthew Lowe argues that international trade and globalisation is vital for long-term economic recovery. He asserts that international trade can help to avoid deep economic scarring on regions such as the West Midlands. Lowe calls for policies enabling more open trade and more supply chain resilience.

Innovation – Dr. Chloe Billing

Dr. Chloe Billing discusses the MIT pilot initiative, whereby the institution has offered a ‘lite’ version of their global Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Programme across the UK, which aims to engender more entrepreneurship and innovation. The West Midlands programme has pivoted its focus to recovery from Covid-19, by conducting customer research into perceptions of the innovation eco-system, assessing the capability of the current eco-system, and mapping business support and innovation-driven enterprises in the region.