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Oil tycoon urges Aberdeen to “stay awake” to maintain economic strengths

Sir Ian Wood
Sir Ian Wood

Aberdeen has scored above average on a number of economic indicators relative to Europe and has the highest productivity of any city in Scotland, a new report has found.

And while the figures used in the study are derived from a few years ago when the granite city was enjoying the effects of rising oil prices, billionaire industrialist Sir Ian Wood said the area could return to its competitive status if residents “stay awake” and focus on recovery.

Centre for Cities, a think tank, found Aberdeen was above average when compared to European cities with populations over 150,000 on a range of metrics including employment, the number of residents who are skilled, innovation and productivity – a measure based on the value of goods and services produced over the costs of inputs and raw materials.

The report revealed that most UK cities, based on statistics from 2011, are lagging behind European competitors. These weaknesses must be addressed if cities are to attract industries offering long-term growth and prosperity, the report warned.

The think-tank’s study of 63 UK cities showed that nine out of 10 performed below the European average for productivity and three out of four had a lower proportion of highly skilled workers.

Sir Ian Wood, chairman of the private sector-led economic development body, Opportunity North East (One), admitted that Aberdeen was “no longer there” when it came to enjoying the above-average economic performance due to the effects of the low oil price.

But he said the cities report demonstrated the “potential” of the city and offered “huge encouragement” as a measure of economic success to return to.

Sir Ian Wood said: “It really demonstrates the potential of Aberdeen, in terms of a very enterprising city, a very active city, a productive city and an innovative city with skilled residents.

“That is as it was a few years ago – clearly we are not there now.

“But it is huge encouragement to Opportunity North East and should be to everyone – that is what the city should be aspiring to get back to.

“We clearly have the potential – we have been there.

“We have got a lot of very bright business-orientated young people.

“What that says is if we hold our nerve and keep ourselves focused on staying awake and working around the challenges of maxmising the oil and gas opportunity, and prolonging the oil and gas opportunity post the North Sea and broadening our economy – there’s no reason Aberdeen can’t get back to being a well-above average economic city.”

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