Edinburgh chiefs set target of 20,000 new jobs by 2017

CITY council chiefs today set a target of 20,000 new jobs to be created in the Capital by the public and private sectors over the next five years.

Launching an ambitious economic strategy for Edinburgh, drawn up in the wake of the banking crisis, the council also said it was aiming for £1.3 billion of infrastructure investment in the city and 10,000 people helped into work or learning between now and 2017.

Businesses are being encouraged to join the Edinburgh Guarantee programme to give young people the ­apprenticeships and work ­opportunities they need to boost their job prospects.

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They are also being urged to invest in social and community enterprises, act as ambassadors for Edinburgh and mentor new entrepreneurs.

City businesses are also being asked to share their knowledge and international connections with the council to help attract vital new inward investment.

Council leader Andrew Burns said: “Scotland’s cities and their regions are key drivers of economic growth for the nation’s economy as a whole, so it’s really important that Edinburgh’s Economic Strategy is not just owned by the council, but by the whole of Team Scotland.

“Edinburgh was resilient during the banking crisis and has bounced back well, but in tough economic times the last thing we want to do is get complacent. With huge pressure on council resources, we need to invest where we will have the most impact and closing the jobs gap is absolutely our number one priority.

“Joblessness creates major social costs for the whole city, and tackling this issue head on now will help us lay the foundations for a new phase of growth in Edinburgh.”

The council itself is to take on an extra 50 Modern Apprentices this year as part of its commitment to the Edinburgh Guarantee, which promises every school leaver in Edinburgh the chance of a job, training or further education opportunity.

The apprenticeships, targeted at those who left school in 2010, 2011 or 2012, will be in a variety of fields, including care of the elderly, hospitality, engineering, plumbing, forestry and construction. In addition to the Modern Apprenticeship programme, the council will also offer 80 Inspiring Young People training places which include a six-month paid placement with an Edinburgh employer.

The strategy was unveiled at a conference in the Assembly Rooms attended by Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, as well as business leaders including Lord Smith, chair of the UK Green Investment Bank, and senior staff from Harvey Nichols and Scottish Enterprise.

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Hugh Rutherford, chair of Edinburgh Business Forum, said: “It is critically important that we pool our knowledge, expertise and resources to ensure Edinburgh remains an attractive place to do business.”