As it was revealed shipbuilding in Scotland is set to contribute more to the economy as the industry grows backed by increased spending, pressure passes to a new government.

Labour signalled a focus on shipbuilding expansion as an analysis showed that despite the steep decline from the glory days of the 1900s, Scotland’s shipbuilding industry has remained steadily consistent in recent years.

The finance firm Rift said a push to rebuild the sector could bring a potential boost of £342 million to the Scottish economy, while more recently it has been bolstered by an increase in defence investment.

In the early 1900s, a fifth of the world’s ships were built on the River Clyde in Glasgow, with 70,000 employed in the city alone.

Defence spending has already boosted production on ClydesideDefence spending has already boosted production on Clydeside (Image: BAE Systems)

The analysis of the latest government figures by Rift shows that in 2021, the Scottish shipbuilding sector employed just 6,700 workers, accounting for 0.36% of total Scottish employment figures, with an estimated six ships built over the course of a year, all of which were either workboat or fishing vessels.

It found that between 2017 and 2019, the number of workers within the sector fell from 7,600 to 6,200, the lowest number seen over the last decade.

However, since then this number has climbed steadily to the 6,700 recorded in 2021 and with Scottish shipbuilding turning over £1.022 billion that year.


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Almost £400m went towards boosting the Scottish economy in 2021 (Gross Value Added) then then Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves recently stated that under a Labour government, more ships would be built in Britain, bringing a further boost to the Scottish shipbuilding sector, Rift said.

Bradley Post, Rift managing director, said earlier that “should Labour come to power and make good on its promise to bring shipbuilding back to Britain, the sleeping giant of the Scottish shipbuilding industry could awaken once again and even just a doubling of the current workforce could bring a sizable boost to the nation’s economy”.

It can perhaps be more than a positive prospect now.

As the dust settled, business editor Ian McConnell writes that “it was striking but not at all surprising how little movement there was in the pound as the expected Labour landslide in the General Election transpired”.

In his analysis, he writes: “It was not surprising because financial markets have for a while been pricing in a Labour victory with a big majority.

“Not only that, of course, but there is no sign at all that Labour’s victory is going to make a huge difference to the economy, for better or worse.”

Business correspondent Kristy Dorsey writes that representatives of Scotland's oil and gas sector are seeking urgent clarity from the incoming Labour government on its intentions amid deep concerns about the impact of a further windfall tax on the sector.

“During the election campaign Sir Keir Starmer's party pledged to impose a ‘proper’ windfall tax of 78% on oil and gas profits, and halt the issue of new exploration and production licences. Known formally as the Energy Profits Levy, the tax was first introduced in 2022 by former Prime Minister Rishi Sunak as a way of helping households with rising energy bills,” she writes.