Councillor ‘deeply concerned’ women will get preferential treatment for freeport opportunities

A Falkirk councillor is “deeply concerned” that women will be given preferential treatment in regards to training opportunities linked to the new Forth Green Freeport.

Conservative councillor James Bundy said it was “not equality” and “men who have worked hard and earned their qualifications should not be discriminated against”.

Yes, Mr Bundy, it should all be about skills not gender diversity and as a sector, we need to identify the underlying frictions that prevent wages from reflecting skills shortages and thus closing any skills or diversity gap?

The Forth freeport will be based around renewables manufacturing, alternative fuels, carbon capture and shipbuilding, as well as a new creative hub.

It will benefit from tax reliefs and other incentives using powers at both the Holyrood and Westminster levels in an effort to stimulate economic growth.

The Forth project includes the ports at Grangemouth, Rosyth and Leith, as well as Edinburgh Airport and a site at Burntisland.

It is expected to attract up to £6bn of investment and create 50,000 jobs – including 20,000 from operations in Grangemouth.

Mr Bundy welcomed the opportunities provided by the freeport but aired his concerns.

Reading out a statement, he told the meeting: “The creation of opportunities for skills and developments and local employment should be open to everyone.

“Therefore, I am deeply concerned that in section eight of the report, the equalities section, it says, and I quote, ‘access to funding for skills bursaries will be prioritised for women through preferential scoring in applications’.

“This is not equality. It’s another speech, but true equality is to make changes in our education system that gives everyone, man or woman, an equal opportunity to participate in STEM subjects. It is not to give women preference in access to funding for skills bursaries.

“Men who have worked hard and earned their qualifications should not be discriminated against. The best person for the job, for the training, should be offered the job or the training.”

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