CalMac Ferries spends nearly £8 million a year on wages in Argyll and Bute, according to a new study.
The highly-respected Fraser of Allander Institute has examined the operations of the company in detail and has found that CalMac jobs account for one job in every 66 on Bute.
Across Argyll and Bute the company employs 281 people, while in Scotland as a whole it has a workforce of 1,476, supports 5,883 jobs on the mainland and supports a total turnover of nearly £270 million in companies across Scotland.
The report, to be unveiled at the Scottish Transport Conference in Edinburgh on Tuesday, examines the operations of the award-winning ferry and port operator in detail, revealing that employment across Argyll and Bute’s island communities is as follows:
* Coll - jobs at CalMac account for 1 job in every 26 jobs
* Colonsay - jobs at Cal Mac account for 1 job in every 17 jobs
* Gigha - jobs at CalMac account for 1 job in every 11 jobs
* Islay - jobs at CalMac account for 1 job in every 73 jobs
* Mull - jobs at Cal Mac account for 1 job in every 34 jobs
* Tiree - jobs at CalMac account for 1 job in every 41 jobs
* Bute - jobs at CalMac account for 1 job in every 66 jobs
CalMac is also a significant employer in Oban, where it accounts for one job in every 48 jobs.
The £41 million paid in salaries to CalMac’s Scottish employees supports a total of £85 million worth of wages in Scotland.
Amongst other key findings are that the company is the main channel of support for commercial activity on the islands, carrying 92,734 commercial vehicles in 2014.
The report highlights, in particular, CalMac’s extensive support for island and remote communities, via the essential lifeline and logistical services it delivers.
It estimates that CalMac enables 3,247 jobs in island tourism and £53.4 million in wages in island tourism - ‘enabling’ being defined as “an impact which allows others to create economic activity”.
The report also shows that CalMac employees have a total of more than 20,000 years of experience, while the average CalMac wage is 12 per cent higher than the average wage in Scotland.
The company carried 4.6 million passengers across its Clyde and Hebrides ferry service network in 2014.
The report was carried out by Stewart Dunlop, research fellow at the Fraser of Allander Institute, who said: “The key findings of this study are estimates of CalMac’s economic impact, both on Scotland as a whole and on specific areas.
“For the latter, we focused on estimating how CalMac supports ‘lifeline’ economic activity on Scottish islands.
“The study also looks at a range of other impacts encompassing tourism, support for local businesses and performance. The results demonstrate that the company’s activity in transporting tourists to the islands has a very considerable effect on the local tourism industry.
“CalMac is clearly the key channel of support for commercial activity on the islands it serves.
“Items exported from the islands include food and drink products, notably high value exports such as whisky and shellfish, both of which contribute significantly to total Scottish exports.
“In terms of imports, CalMac’s activity covers the majority of items sold by local retailers, including fuel, food, mail, medical supplies, oil, gas, and utilities, without which it would be difficult to maintain an acceptable quality of life on the islands.”
Martin Dorchester, managing director of CalMac Ferries Ltd, said: “We see our role as being to deliver the highest possible value to the island and mainland communities we serve by the investment we make in people, in the transport sector and in the Scottish economy as a whole.
“That value can only be delivered effectively by ensuring that we go beyond simply being a transport provider. That means delivering essential, lifeline services which provide access to work, education and health services, help people maintain contact with family and friends and ensure supplies of fresh food, fuel and mail to local people.
“It also means enabling our island and mainland businesses to make the most effective contribution possible to Scotland’s economy by keeping supply chains open and transporting their goods and services efficiently to market.
“We must also ensure that we do all we can to assist Scotland’s tourism sector by ensuring easy access and an enjoyable experience for the thousands of tourists who are so vital to many island economies and support local accommodation, food and attraction providers.
“Our aim is to add value to our contract across all these areas such as employment, tourism and supplier spend, which lies behind our commitment to employing local people in our island communities and to supporting the Inverclyde area which continues to face economic challenges.
“The Fraser of Allander’s report outlines in detail the extent of the contribution which CalMac’s people and operations make to Scotland’s economy across all these key areas.
“As we move forward, our ambition is to further enhance our support for the communities we serve and continue our investment in customer service.”