According to the recent Edinburgh by Numbers report, our economy is steaming ahead and we remain the most prosperous city outside London. The news got even better this week when figures published by the Scottish Government showed more school-leavers than ever in Edinburgh benefit from this success by moving into work, education or training.
Edinburgh’s economic success has been in part due to the support provided by the Council’s Economic Development Service (EDS), which is delivering ahead of trend against all of the targets set out in Edinburgh’s Economic Strategy: a Strategy for Jobs. The figure for positive destinations is now 93.1 per cent, up ten per cent on this time four years ago, when the vision for a strong partnership between the public and private sectors to help young people with their first steps began. This vision was named the Edinburgh Guarantee and the positive destination figure is very strong evidence that the £1 million the council’s EDS invests in it each year is paying great dividends.
This continued support is vitally important as young people are our future and as many of them will have just finished important exams and be looking at their options, it is extremely encouraging to see just how much those options have improved in the last three years.
The Edinburgh Guarantee has matched 1516 young people into jobs, apprenticeships, internships or training and added almost £30m to the Scottish economy, with more than £17m of this being Edinburgh’s share. And Edinburgh by Numbers has just reported that the percentage of the Edinburgh workforce with a degree level qualification or equivalent has risen from 46 per cent in 2013 to 54 per cent in 2015.
While celebrating this success, I recognise that there are still areas of Edinburgh which have pockets of deprivation and high unemployment. Going forward, the EDS needs to do more targeted work to tackle this issue and try to ensure everyone can enjoy our future success.
Embracing all of this talent, we must secure the city’s future and address any inequality that exists. That is why we are working with neighbouring authorities to try to secure a £1 billion-plus City Deal for Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region. An additional £3.2bn of private sector investment could be leveraged if our bid is successful.
Our next step will be to seek UK and Scottish Government agreement on the development of a detailed proposition. Assuming a positive response from ministers, by early next year there is every prospect of a multi-billion pound City Region Deal being in place. This will help ensure we have many more positive editions of Edinburgh by Numbers to come.
Councillor Frank Ross is convener of Edinburgh City Council’s economy committee