To those who do not live in Scotland, the country gaining independence may seem like a minor issue. However, as those who have a keen interest in politics and economics may already know, Scotland cannot separate from the UK without there being any further effects on its remaining countries.
While it’s difficult to predict changes in employment at this stage, there are some indications that jobs from the financial sector could shift back below the border. As more and more financial institutions begin to announce their intention of leaving Scotland it seems that England could be seeing an employment opportunity boost in at least one sector.
How Scottish independence will affect employment in England is less clear, although there has been claims that it will see a mass exodus of financial professionals moving south of the border. Around 20,000 to 40,000 jobs could move to London, leading to a huge financial boost for the city’s banking industry.
Douglas McWilliams, the founder of the Centre for Economics and Business Research, has attempted to draw parallels between Scotland and Ireland. Ireland became an independent nation in 1920, but struggled economically shortly afterwards. McWilliams believes that Scotland will “Learn the hard way”, as far as the financial sector is concerned.
Around 8% of Scotland’s economy, when the oil and gas sector is excluded, is accounted for by the financial sector. While an exodus of 20,000 to 40,000 jobs is a realistic figure, those who want to make less conservative estimates may claim that around 80,000 jobs will move to England from this sector alone. This figure arises when analysts examine the number of insurance firms that may also want to leave Scotland, especially if the issue of currency is not addressed.
Compared to the rest of the UK, Scotland has a rapidly ageing demographic. This means there is a chance that future investors will look south of the border for a reliable workforce. Such assumptions, however, are just assumptions at this stage.
Speaking of demographics, another key area where there could be an employment shift is healthcare. While the Scots are free to decide on some NHS policies, it would have complete control over healthcare staffs’ wages. Providing it can afford higher wages, Scotland may choose to introduce pay rises. For those NHS staff living in England and Wales, this may make a move north of the border quite tempting.
Finally, with Scotland attracting more public sector spending per-head than the rest of the UK, there has been suggestions that public sector jobs may move south if it gains independence. In addition, related private sector jobs would soon follow. For those who work in the civil service that have been worrying about recent cuts to public sector funding, this can only be good news. Overall, it seems employment may be boosted in some key areas in England, but there are no guarantees.