THE FUTURE IS ALREADY HERE
To the dewy-eyed, reared on a diet of strongmen wielding hammers in sweltering steel mills or mining black gold down pits, it is difficult to see where the next wave of jobs will come from to replace them– but the answers are all around us. The shimmering steel and glass towers of the International Financial Services District (IFSD) on the banks of the Clyde in the heart of Glasgow are the future. An economic review earlier this month said the IFSD was on course to attract 20,000 jobs and create 2m sq ft of grade “A” office accommodation by 2011. About 650,000 sq ft of accommodation is already underway or about to start at eight separate locations along the waterfront. Financial services has been the powerhouse of the economy for the past decade and plays to Scottish strengths. An impressive list of blue chip companies has taken advantage of the financial bene- fits of being based in Glasgow – it is about 50% cheaper to operate from the IFSD than the equivalent space in London. The big names include First Data, ACE Insurance, who joined companies like Barclays Wealth, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley. Peter Wood’s insurance venture, esure, recently hired the10,000th employee in the IFSD. And these are not lowest common denominator jobs. Many are management and specialist support roles assisting UK and global operations and command aboveaverage salaries.
world. Is it merely one part of the large – and attractive – UK offering, or a separate entity entirely? To what extent is its competitiveness dependent upon that of the rest of the UK, or the rest of the European Union? Should it seek to deepen its relationship with the US, or turn its attention to the new economic powerhouses of the East? Is its rightful place as the western link of the Baltic/Nordic trade route, or as the northern link of an Anglo-Irish alliance?
The script has certainly changed and the new one is considerably more complicated but it can still have a happy ending.
Courtney Fingar is editor of Foreign Direct Investment magazine
Trade routes: A container ship leaves Hamburg