Blog: Is Tessa Jowell trying out her manifesto for a tilt at London City Hall?


Deloitte first raised the idea of a "chief talent officer" for London in November.

The consultancy firm had just released research that had shown - if there were any doubt - that London was the talent capital of the world, employing 1.5million in high-skilled sectors.

The company predicted 100,000 more skilled jobs by 2020 as creative, digital and life science sectors made up for the loss of the banking jobs. To accommodate this, there needs to be joined up thinking on such diverse areas as education, housing, visas and infrastructure.

Dame Tessa Jowell picked up the theme at the Cass MBA London Symposium in the City last week where she spoke to students from leading business schools from around the world, offering a range of views on the priorities for the city and the dangers of getting sidetracked by media concerns

She said she was "quite taken" with the idea of a talent officer. She said: "The mayor should work to strengthen business links with education. Education is a vital feed.

"University technical colleges are an interesting innovation, bringing together universities and businesses to give young people the advanced technical skills that we will need."
So encouraging more businesses to partner with schools and colleges will help to fill the skills gap that we see in most major industries.

Dame Tessa said there were three major challenges facing the city.

• Infrastructure - most notably creating new public transport routes.
• Housing - tackling ghost neighbourhoods and housing undersupply
• Jobs - keeping business supplied with skilled candidates as well as ensuring essential workers weren't priced out of the capital.

"And another area that needs a new political consensus is the need for reform of the visa system. One company in the telecoms and media and tech sector when asked by Deloitte how London could be improved by 2020 said, 'Three ways: Visas, visas, visas'.

"We can't let the febrile debate on immigration damage London's reputation as a welcoming city for foreign businesses and foreign workers.

"The impact of our losing world city status won't just hurt London it will the hurt the whole of the UK."

Dame Tessa told the symposium that the Olympic Games and its legacy was due to show a return on investment of £13.4billion.

"More than 20,000 jobs aim to be created through the legacy company by 2030 including spin-offs in the local economy totalling more than £5billion," she said.

"But what is often forgotten is the catalytic effect that the Games has on other areas of innovation - in spectrum management; state of the art approaches to drug testing and identification; new forms from broadcasting quite apart from the innovations to improve the performance of our athletes. So probably there were 1,000 innovations woven in to the process.

"So what is the legacy? Tangibly, we're witnessing the transformation of the Olympic Park into a space for all the community. The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is living up to its legacy promise."

"The park will also act as a catalyst for cultural excellence some of the recent projects include the floating cinema, support for Hackney Wick's Yard theatre and one to look forward to is The Line - a sculpture walk that will link the park to The O2 in a bid to bring modern and contemporary sculpture out of the stacks and out of storage and onto the waterways and walk ways."

"The effect of the Olympic Games was to achieve in six years what would otherwise have taken 60 years.

Dame Tessa is standing down from Parliament in 2015 and she has been tipped as Labour's candidate for the 2016 London mayoral election where her Olympic success and grassroots and cross-party support give her a strong platform.

She has not publicly indicated yet whether she is likely to stand or whether her Cass speech forms the basis of an embryonic, and intriguing, manifesto.