21 May 2018
It may come as a surprise to some, but Glasgow’s economy has been growing very healthily in recent years.
Look at the most recent UK Business Register and Employment Survey and you’ll find in 2016 some 18,000 new jobs were created in the city region, bringing the total added since 2012 to 73,000. Most were full-time jobs.
Of the Top 10 largest cities in the UK, only London’s economic output grew faster than Glasgow’s over that period. Almost 3,000 net new Glasgow businesses have started up.
Fresh economic plans have been agreed for both Greater Glasgow region and the City of Glasgow itself. There are ambitious targets, including 100,000 new jobs and 110,000 new houses by 2035. By 2023 50,000 new jobs are wanted for the City of Glasgow alone, alongside a new Tourism Plan aiming to attract an additional million tourists by 2023.
In March, the City Council launched its guide to private sector investment opportunities. Included are two innovation districts designed to attract business capital alongside the academic research centres that have been springing up in precision medicine, photonics and advanced manufacturing.
The first is championed by the University of Glasgow, taking in its own £1bn campus redevelopment, a zone for commercial business development around Queen Elizabeth University Hospital and the Scottish Events Campus.
The second is planned for the area surrounding Glasgow Airport, including the Scottish Government’s National Manufacturing Institute for Scotland (NMIS) and the University of Strathclyde’s Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC), which specialises in metallurgy and metal forming for the aerospace and automotive industries, and around which there are plans to develop a substantial advanced manufacturing district.
We must encourage a deeper collection of successful home-grown companies. If the first decade of the 21st century was all about inward investment, about the Broomielaw’s International Financial Services District (IFSD), with jobs growth in financial and business services which held up remarkably well after the recession, then the next decade must be about converting our strengths in science and technology and our traditions in engineering into the next wave of fast growing, research-intensive, export-rich Glasgow companies - with innovation districts the flagships for that new wave.
Glasgow Chamber will be actively supporting the rise of Glasgow’s presence in the circular economy, where innovative design helps reduce the resources needed for products and services.
We will also be a vocal supporter of investments that will help bring in those million new tourists. We need more direct flights at Glasgow Airport, and more inbound passenger traffic will be a big help.
We made a good start with the Commonwealth Games, but there is more to do. So let’s get the next phase of expansion for the Scottish Events Campus funded and delivered, build the airport rail link and improve the tourist appeal of our city centre.
There is another opportunity that we really must grab. We all know that far too many Glaswegians have not shared in the city’s growth. With employment levels hitting new records across Scotland, members are regularly reporting skills shortages, and post-Brexit we can’t easily turn to European talent to fill the gaps. We must stretch every sinew to help many thousands more Glasgow people get involved.
That’s why Glasgow Chamber is working with the Scottish Government to resource a team which is devoted to getting Glasgow schools closer to the business community and to supporting as many initiatives as possible that will link young people to jobs.
Glasgow is a successful thriving European city, and the next 10 years must offer the proof to those who haven’t seen that reflected in their own lives.