3 Apr 2012

Regional jobs blog: Glasgow

Stuart Patrick from Glasgow Chamber of Commerce tells Channel 4 News that renewables and trade provide hope for jobs in the Scottish city.

Gross weekly pay  –  £489.10  /  £500 UK average
JSA claimants  –   6.2 per cent / 4.1 per cent UK average
Vacancies per 10,000  –   87  /  72 UK average
JSA claimants per unfilled vacancy  –   7.1  / 5.7 UK average
Number of jobs supported  –  450,000

April 3:

Stuart Patrick, Glasgow Chamber of Commerce chief executive, on the BCC’s quarterly economic survey: “We agree with the BCC on the need for infrastructure investment. The Scottish government has been arguing for this and has announced improvements to the M8 motorway for example. But we need to see Westminster commitment to similar UK improvements that will benefit Scotland – in rail, HS2 to Glasgow and Edinburgh, and in air, a third runway at Heathrow.”

March 23:

Stuart Patrick who runs a number of businesses in Glasgow, and is director of Glasgow Science Centre and the Arches Theatre:  Each year in November, Glasgow holds its leadership to account at the ‘state of the city economy conference’ – a self-imposed exercise to check just how well we are doing in securing the long term renaissance of the city.

At the most recent conference, four years in since the beginnings of the financial crisis, we had a lot of taking stock to do.

We have much to be proud of over the 25 years since the last recession in our mission to transform Scotland’s biggest city from a crippling over-dependence on heavy engineering to one with a diverse portfolio of knowledge-rich industry. But like everyone else we’re facing a whole new set of challenges.

It has undoubtedly been tough for retailers, for construction companies and for many other businesses focused on the UK consumer. The city’s employment base has clearly shrunk and unemployment is obviously up.

Glasgow Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Stuart Patrick and John Sharkey, SECC chief executive speak to Channel 4 News from the construction site of the city’s new national Hydro Arena, which will generate around 2,500 jobs once it is up and running.


A ‘trading city’

But equally it isn’t that difficult to be positive about the city’s prospects and here’s why – Glasgow has always been a trading city, reaching out to markets all across the world.

It’s in those industries with primarily export markets that the optimism and opportunities for growth are shining through – for instance 85 per cent of all Scotch whisky is still bottled in and around the city and the most recent figures showing whisky exports up 23 per cent and new overseas markets emerging.

Also the most recent review of Scottish engineering companies shows eight consecutive quarters of output and employment growth, with highly-successful companies like Weir Group, Aggreko, Clyde Union, and Howden exporting another generation of pumps, valves, compressors and temporary power solutions all around the world.

In addition, we are doing well in bringing foreign wallets to the city, with Glasgow maintaining a steady tourism trade especially in business conferencing. Our universities are sharing in the booming demand from Chinese and Indian students for the expertise of our business schools.

Glasgow Airport has steadily grown the air connections that we need to get to and from our markets. The most recent investment by Emirates in a double daily flight to Dubai shows just where the growth is most intense.

A centre for renewables

Not all the more domestic sectors are struggling either. Glasgow has become very quickly a thriving centre of research and development in renewable technologies with two major energy companies (Scottish Power and Scottish and Southern Energy), a growing band of smaller specialists and a very active investment strategy from the University of Strathclyde. These have great potential for high-end R&D jobs.

It was gratifying to see HSBC naming Glasgow as a renewables supercity last year, and the recent decision to site the corporate HQ of the Green Investment Bank in Edinburgh is another boost.

It’s a bit more tricky to make similar positive noises about the financial services industry, which has been a net positive jobs generator for the city over the last 12 years. The Global Financial Centre’s Index has just knocked Glasgow and Edinburgh down a few places. But even here a recent Scottish Enterprise report on the city’s International Financial Services District (IFSD) showed a small increase in the number of financial services jobs since 2008 – despite all that has happened to Scottish banking.

Glasgow already has a track record to build on, with the city being Scotland’s largest urban economy, generating almost £17b GVA each year and supporting over 450,000 jobs.

Public sector losses

The private sector we developed in the good times has given us something to build on during the difficult times – with more than 70,000 jobs created in the 10 years until 2005. Around 30,000 jobs have now gone in the public sector and in other areas under pressure, like retail. But despite this, Glasgow is still performing better than other UK cities.

Lack of jobs for the young is a worrying issue everywhere, but Glasgow has a strong track record in helping find youth employment opportunities, and that can be seen in the statistics. Over the last year youth unemployment has risen by 15 per cent across the UK, by 12 per cent in Scotland, but by only 3 per cent in Glasgow.

Last year the city leadership appointed an independent business-dominated Economic Commission, tasked with making recommendations on the investments Glasgow will need to make to maintain its track record in growing private sector employment.

We have a Commonwealth Games to deliver in 2014 and we are getting our act together to make the most of that. Any city that has successfully exploited a major event will tell you how important it is to have a long term economic strategy in place to build on.  We are well on the way to achieving just that.

All of this has had a positive impact on the jobs market, despite the hard times.

What’s your experience of the Glasgow jobs markt? Add your voice below. Or join the conversation on Twitter #C4jobs and on the Channel 4 Jobs Report Facebook page

Calum Muir graduated from Dundee University with an IT degree last year.
He is looking for web design jobs and has moved back home to live with his Mum in Glasgow.