REPORTS that recruitment across the financial and business services sector will pick up in coming months are particularly welcome given that unemployment hit a 17-year high last week.
It is a sign of increasing confidence that a new survey indicates the City will be the UK’s biggest recruiter over the next quarter. Over 1m people already work in financial services (and a further 600,000 in related professional services) with around two-thirds employed outside London.
The City is playing a vital role in driving the UK recovery and helping create jobs needed to address cutbacks in the public sector.
In my visits overseas I am delighted that we are generally held in high esteem but the City can not be complacent if we are to remain strategic partners with key growth markets.
That is why, in line with the government’s emphasis on commercial diplomacy, I am currently promoting our services alongside a senior business delegation in South East Asia.
We have much to offer, and the stakes are high. The City accounts for £42bn in net exports, half the UK’s deficit on trade and goods. This positive figure could increase considerably if we strengthen our financial ties with developing markets such as Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.
There are particularly strong opportunities in green infrastructure and carbon trading, especially as these countries have set out to meet strict emissions targets without compromising economic growth.
The UK has valuable experience to offer across the whole spectrum of green finance, encompassing banking, investment, legal, consulting and accounting services. By working together, we can deliver the mechanisms needed to overcome bottlenecks that could constrain future growth across South East Asia.
But while I am in the region, of more pressing concern is the current situation in Japan following the recent earthquake and tsunami.
Many people in the City work daily with colleagues and clients in Japan and our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected. As an engineer my charity appeal this year supports RedR, the disaster relief charity that trains and provides experienced humanitarians to help in such emergencies. RedR’s members are currently offering relief programmes on the ground, and technical and relief worker recruitment services to organisations responding.
It will be incredibly difficult but I am sure that with international assistance the Japanese people will recover from this terrible tragedy.
Michael Bear is Lord Mayor of the City of London