There was a stark reminder this week of why people like me keep blathering on about the importance of securing the Tay Cities Deal.
If it gets the green light, a Scottish and UK Government-backed deal will marry local economic aspirations in the form of more than 50 social, business and cultural projects with the cash to bring at least some of them to reality.
A deal has been a powerful force for change in other locations and this week’s Centre for Cities (CfC) report demonstrated why it is so desperately needed here too.
The study went for the ‘sexy’ line of the potential disruption that robotisation will bring to the jobs market over the next decade or so.
I have already made clear my concerns over their sweeping summation that more than a quarter of jobs will be wiped out in Dundee by 2030 as a result of advances in automisation.
However, what is not in dispute is another figure in the report which places Dundee’s employment rate at just 64.1%.
The figure – for the 12 months through to June 2017 –is the lowest among all 63 UK cities for which data was collected.
To reach the average UK employment rate, the report’s authors suggest some 9,800 Dundonians have to move into work. Think on that a moment.
Dundee needs 10,000 new jobs just to catch-up.
That is multiple Michelins and is significantly more than is employed by Dundee City Council and its external partner organisations to run all of the constituent functions of the local authority from housing to education and social care.
Perth was not included in the CfC data but the Fair City also needs a major jobs injection too.
Short of Amazon suddenly deciding to move their global HQ to the Carse of Gowrie, the Tay Cities Deal is the only credible thing on the horizon that can help close the employment gap so evident in Dundee.
The vision offered in the deal document is to create 15,000 jobs over 10 years by transforming the Tay Cities area into Europe’s most productive knowledge-led economy.
That’s a tall order by anyone’s standards – especially in such uncertain times as we are now experiencing – but what we have in Tay Cities is a costed and, crucially, investable plan that at least has a chance of succeeding.
What is needed now is the buy-in from government to allow Tay Cities to move from talking the talk to walking the walk.