Creating Jobs – Good Jobs – is a Virtuous Circle

I’m always banging on about how many jobs the North of Tyne has created.  Having a good job that you enjoy is life changing.  It’s not just good for the local economy, it’s good for your self-esteem and confidence.  There are no down sides of creating good jobs.  I see it as the cornerstone of my role as Mayor.  Every job we create is backed by our Good Work Pledge – meaning fair pay, workers are listened to and looked after, and get the chance of training and progression. 

If you believe their corporate websites, every oil company on the planet has already solved climate change, and protected some fluffy cute animals into the bargain.  Once you decode the technical language, the claims ring hollow.  Jobswash is a bit like Greenwash.  “This new Government policy will create three squllion new jobs”. 

Our figures are much more tightly controlled.  Because we have to report on our progress to Treasury, we have strict criteria for what counts as a “job”.  It has to be full-time, it must be held for over a year, and it must be the direct result of our cash investment.  So if we bring a new firm here, and they hire construction workers to fit out their new offices, we don’t count those jobs, important though they are.  If a new start-up buys its materials from a local supplier, we don’t count those indirect jobs.  When the workers in the new, direct jobs we create spend money in local shops and restaurants, boosting employment, we don’t count those indirect jobs either.  Just direct jobs.  

So how do we go about it?  We work in big sectors like digital and offshore wind.  We help firms with recruitment and finding premises, and digital infrsatructure.  That’s how we’ve attracted big digital technology companies here. In some cases setting up their UK headquarters here instead of London.  Firms like Verisure, Xplor, Monstarlab, Version 1 and Thoughtworks.  All paying good wages.  And we’re developing a new cluster around healthy ageing

It’s not all about working with big businesses.  We work with medium sized businesses.  Often you’ll find businesses hit a barrier to their growth. Maybe they would overcome it in 2 or 3 years or maybe they wouldn’t.  We help with those barriers through our Growth Funds so they start employing people now.

We’ve invested into Battleship Wharf in Blyth and clearing the Swan Hunter site to make more space for the growing offshore industry.  Our TIGGOR programme invests directly in research and development, so local firms can compete with the globals, and develop new products that get manufactured here.  (Great name, eh? TIGGOR – Technology, Innovation and Green Growth for Offshore Renewables.)  Local firms have grown, employed more people, and are exporting offshore wind components across the world.     

Then there is our incredibly important hinterland of small businesses.  We’ve helped over 1700 with advice and support, and over 100 with direct investment.  We helped local cycling firm Saddle Skedaddle develop an internet savvy customer journey, so they can increase their sales of eco-holidays, and employ more staff.   We’ve helped local joinery firm Damian Cronin digitise their production.  They’ve now employed more joiners and apprentices, and are exporting to Japan.  All the new jobs in these small firms add up.  This is investment in the real economy – in firms that pay their taxes and pay their workers properly.

We’re directly investing in rural areas with our Rural Growth fund.  Our Culture and Creative fund provides equity and soft loans to freelancers and small firms in the arts, culture and creative sector.  Helping them get online and boost their business and grow. 

Add all this together and we have a pipeline of 4,487 direct jobs.  Our emergency £5 million investment and other funds have safeguarded another 2,700 jobs that could have been lost through the pandemic.  The North of Tyne doesn’t count indirect jobs, but the extra money in our region is creating them too. 

All the evidence shows that more money in working people’s pockets leads to better health, better educational outcomes for kids, and less pressure on our underfunded public services.  Creating  jobs – good jobs – is a virtuous circle. 

*Originally printed in the Journal and Evening Chronicle 28 Feb 2022