Dundee Matters: One shot to turn dial on the prospects and prosperity of Dundee

Michelin's decision to end tyre manufacturing in Dundee was a body blow for the site's 850 staff and the wider city economy.
Michelin's decision to end tyre manufacturing in Dundee was a body blow for the site's 850 staff and the wider city economy.

There are no guarantees in the world of work.

In a time when uncertainty is the only thing that anyone can be certain of, Dundee’s labour force has been dealt some real body blows.

There are concerns over job losses at Dundee City Council, HMRC and others but, obviously, Michelin stands atop that particular pile.

The French industrial giant’s decision late last year to end tyre manufacturing in the city by mid-2020 was as devastating as it was unexpected.

In normal circumstances any local economy would struggle to cope with the loss of 850 skilled workers in one fell swoop.

But these are not normal times and, until we have clarity over the future direction of the country from a political standpoint, everyone is right to be on edge.

Dundee-based North East MSP Jenny Marra last week added her voice to concerns the city’s labour market was moving in the wrong direction and called for a new economic plan to be brought forward.

Her line that work was “fast becoming a privilege rather than an expectation” for city dwellers was particularly stark and difficult to swallow.

But, just last summer, a Centre for Cities report placed Dundee’s employment rate plumb bottom of the rankings across the UK as a whole.

The figure was 64.1%, more than 10 percentage points below the national average of 74.2%.

A little number-crunching at the time estimated that Dundee would have to see almost 10,000 people move into work in one go to bring the city up to the average.

It is a depressing thought. A seemingly insurmountable mountain.

But there is another, more positive, side to the coin.

Through the advent of the V&A, Dundee has suddenly become cool.

People who previously had never given the city the time of day are now talking about it, visiting it and enjoying its charms.

That alone will not create the jobs that Dundee needs. But it is a positive that can be harnessed for the greater good.

The Tay Cities Deal is the vital cog in the wheel here.

For the first time in generations there is real cash available to pump-prime our economy.

The sooner that money is released and put to work, the better.

But before that point, and as requested by Ms Marra, a cogent economic plan must be in place.

We have one shot to turn the dial. We cannot afford to get it wrong.

Get in touch with your local office at Dundee or send a letter to The Courier at letters@thecourier.co.uk