Where Are The Jobs Going To Come From
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12 Jan 2009 11:36
Lord Mandelson Speech: Jobs Summit, London
As Business Secretary, my job is to help deliver real help for viable
businesses to get them through the recession. We are doing that and further
support measures will be set out later this week.
But the government's job is also to look to the longer term. What we do today
must also lay the foundations for future economic strength.
So, the first question for a long term take on the UK labour market has to be
- what kind of British economy is going to emerge from the current downturn?
It's of course impossible to say with precision. But we know a few things.
We know, for example, that the UK is almost certainly going to emerge from
this downturn with a consolidated financial services sector.
The British consumer is going to be minding their money a little more
carefully, so retail will probably grow more slowly than the rest of the
After a decade of badly needed investment that has strengthened many parts of
the public sector, public sector job creation will not grow at anything like the
So this raises a big question. Where are the jobs going to come from?
Well, I've spent the last two months arguing that above all they need to come
from a renaissance in UK manufacturing and the expansion of the UK's
Of course, our strengths in service industries, for example professional and
business support services, will grow. Every part of the UK economy matters and
government policy must address all of them. But to get a sense of the scale of
some of the potential opportunities it is interesting to look at a sector like
the low carbon industry. I offer this as an example.
The global market for low carbon and environmental goods and services is
currently worth about £3 trillion, and it is projected to grow strongly over the
next decade as both the developed and the emerging world makes the shift to low
carbon or post-carbon.
There are over 800,000 people in the UK employed in this sector once you
factor in the supply chain. Many of them are employed in renewable energy
industries, but around half are employed in emerging low-carbon areas such as
alternative fuels and low carbon design and development. There are also tens of
thousands of people employed in services industries like environmental
consultancy and carbon finance. So this is a job revolution that cuts right
across all sectors of the economy.
The UK's environmental goods and services sector is the sixth biggest
globally and is projected to grow substantially over the next decade. If the UK
takes advantage of the opportunities available and realizes this growth, we
could see over a million jobs in this sector by the middle of the next decade.
But it is an if. Because this is going to be a fearsomely competitive sector.
To get there we will need a smart, strategic approach from government that makes
sure that the business environment is absolutely fine tuned to that outcome -
and that includes using things like government procurement strategies to help
companies willing to take the leap to develop the expertise that will make them
That means government that ensures that we are developing the right skills
base and investing strategically in the right research commercialization and
When we launch proposals for the government's low carbon industrial strategy
in a few weeks time, it will include commitments to doing all this and more.
The key is to put in place the right frameworks of public policy within which
private sector decisions are taken. To align the range of government policies to
help secure the industrial objectives we are seeking.
There are analogies for what we want to do in government for low carbon
industrial development in other areas. Digital infrastructure and the creative
and knowledge industries - the work Stephen Carter is doing to create a fully
Bioscience. Precision engineering and advanced electronic manufacturing. And,
as I have said, the world class services sector that these industries need to be
Essentially we are talking about an industrial strategy that is rooted in the
diversification of the UK economy and the deepening of its specialisms - where
its comparative advantages lay in a changing global economy.
China and India and the rest of the emerging world, not to mention an
increasingly competitive European single market, are going to keep pushing us to
refine and renew what we do best.
But that competitive global economy will also be twice the size it is now,
and give us access to a global middle class that will number a billion by the
end of the next decade
So we can't know the future precisely and we shouldn't be trying to anoint
British success stories in advance - that kind of prescription is pretty much a
recipe for what you might call a 'Betamax economy'.
But we do know broadly what we will need to be good at, and that is being
smarter and more innovative and creative and more flexible and adaptive and
confident and entrepreneurial than the competition. Because that is where more
and better jobs will come from.
The task for government and the private sector now is making sure we get
there. No one is trying to order change or run industries from Whitehall. That's
not the sort of industrial activism I have in mind. But to identify and pursue
the government policies that will support the private sector and draw the
benefits from markets to get the jobs of the future we want.
This is no simple challenge but one, I am sure, the following panel will be
able to shed light on.
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2009-01-13 10:08:58 in Business Articles