SHADOW Scottish Secretary Margaret Curran announced the creation of a new taskforce on job creation and said the body would look at how to tackle the “deep scar” of unemployment.
The taskforce, led by John McFall, the former Commons Treasury committee chairman, and leading digital entrepreneur, MT Rainey, will be charged with coming up with ideas for job creation schemes that Labour governments at Westminster and Holyrood could pursue.
Curran told conference delegates that the group would examine opportunities for investment in new industries such as the digital and internet sectors.
“We have close to 200,000 people unemployed in Scotland and 17,000 people have spent the last two years on the dole, trying to find jobs. That number is rising faster in Scotland than across the UK as a whole,” Curran said. “And we also need to reach out for new industries, new opportunities and new ways of working to find new answers and new solutions for the future.
“That’s why I’ve asked John McFall and MT Rainey to form a taskforce and come back before UK conference with a plan for what Scottish Labour needs to do to get our country working again.”
Meanwhile, Rainey, a non-executive director of Channel 4 and chair of creative industry body Skillset, said the taskforce would look at the types of jobs that could be created.
“I grew up in Dumbarton at a time when work looked very different to how it does today,” said Rainey “What’s clear is that the kind of jobs we need in Scotland for the future will be quite different to those of the past.
“I’ve seen my own industry transformed and new skills emerge. I’ve been both an employee and entrepreneur and I’ve worked both here and abroad with some very innovative companies.
“It’s a great pleasure to be asked to help the Scottish Labour Party at this crucial time, to make sure that we are prepared for this new employment landscape and that people can take advantage of the opportunities that these new industries represent.”
Labour peer McFall, who chaired the Commons Treasury committee during the 2008 banking crisis, talked about a “growing crisis” of unemployment in Scotland.
He said: “I’m pleased to be able to use my nine years of experience on the Treasury select committee to help Scottish Labour come up with the new and innovative ideas we need to take Scotland forward.
“If we want to rebuild Scotland’s economy, we can’t afford for people to be unemployed. And what’s clear is that we have a growing crisis of long-term employment in Scotland. This work is needed now more than ever.”
McFall and Rainey will work alongside Labour treasury spokeswoman Cathy Jamieson to produce a report on job creation in time for the UK Labour conference this autumn.