BRIGHTON and Hove is a city brimming with fantastic assets but often I feel like we are not making the most of the talent we have within our city. In an economic report commissioned by Brighton and Hove City Council in 2013, it was found that Brighton and Hove’s productivity lags 10% behind the rest of the South East region.

This statistic shocked me but has been largely unnoticed since the report was published as the political discourse in the city has rumbled on with the usual diet of traffic and trash.Why the lag? On the face of it - it doesn’t make sense.

Our local population is one of the most skilled in the UK, with more than 45% of residents educated to degree level or above.

The problem is that we don’t have the right jobs for them.

The same report spoke about the problem of ‘baristas with PhDs’ and our predominantly low wage economy is selling young people short in a city with living costs not far off London’s.This is something we need to address, and fast.

I’m not denying the city is doing a good job at encouraging the creative and digital industries here, but this is not a sector known for having the sort of large workforce and economies of scale that could achieve the transformation we need. The next council administration, of whichever political composition, must make tackling our productivity gap a priority.

On paper, we are a city with excellent transport links to London, airports and the wider south east.

So why aren’t we able to attract the businesses that could give our local economy a much needed uplift? Brighton and Hove should be an entrepreneurial mecca.

In his excellent BBC documentary on London’s remarkable renaissance over the last ten years, Evan Davies pointed to the concept of agglomeration, where businesses and firms seek to position themselves alongside similar organisations to reap the benefits of infrastructure, skills and economies of scale.

I strongly believe, with our excellent universities and highly skilled population, we should be able to tap into this phenomenon.

As a city, we need to find what we can do to unlock this potential and get on and do it – are there problems with our office stock, could we do more to support companies to relocate here? On paper it might sound like a dull subject, but closing our productivity gap could transform Brighton and Hove by an additional £500 million per annum to our regional output and improve the job prospects, living standards and incomes of residents living in our fantastic city.

Sam Cullen – Policy researcher and Brighton resident