While looking to take advantage of future economic opportunities, we can’t ignore the challenges we are facing, particularly the negative impact the continuing uncertainty as a result of the UK’s departure from the EU is having on Scotland’s growth.
We need to build resilience within our businesses and industries. To help them continue to operate despite these challenges, while at the same time supporting them to grow by looking at new and different ways of doing business within the shifting economic landscape. We already know of many businesses that are innovating not just to face into the current headwinds, but to build a stronger, brighter future.
Our Future Skills Action Plan and Skills Action Plan for Rural Scotland look at how both employers and our skills support system can give people adaptable skills to help them and our businesses respond to future opportunities and challenges. As we do that, it is vital that we develop an approach tailored to Scotland’s needs to attracting and retaining talent to address current and future skills gaps in our workforce.
We’re a small, open economy, so our resilience is also dependent on our ability to trade easily and attract overseas investment and talent. Since the outcome of the EU referendum we’ve increased our efforts to support our companies to trade in Europe and beyond to ensure that the world knows that Scotland remains open and welcoming.
We will continue to listen closely to businesses’ concerns about leaving the EU, but also about other issues, and help mitigate against any economic downturn by providing as much information, advice and support, including access to finance and innovation.
We are not just thinking about resilience, we are also planning for the recovery that will be required after the initial challenges presented by the UK’s exit from the EU are over, and we will continue to support the economy to return to a position where sustainable, inclusive growth is achievable and becomes the new normal. And we must continue to look further ahead, restructuring our economy to ensure it is fit to meet the opportunities and challenges that will come our way in the 21st century.
Productivity is the principal long-term driver of economic growth. More productive economies can produce greater quantities of goods and services for a given set of resources, typically leading to higher incomes, living standards and wealth. Productivity growth is not an end in itself; it is the means by which we build a better society.
We are aware that our ambitions for better jobs, higher wages and more internationally successful firms are at least partially dependent on raising productivity. This Plan includes a number of measures which will help us achieve that goal: the Scottish National Investment Bank will boost productivity enhancing investment and our innovative Productivity Clubs Pilots are helping nurture the peer to peer business networks which are often at the heart of highly productive regional economies.
The initiatives set out in our Economic Action Plan are organised by the fundamental drivers of inclusive and sustainable growth – the same drivers that create the conditions for productivity growth: Investment, Enterprise, International, Innovation, Skills, Place, People and Sustainability.
To ensure we build resilience, enable recovery and growth and restructure for the future, there will be a particular focus on:
- Realising the climate enterprise opportunity
- Transforming our support for business
- Developing the right skills
- Importance of every place in Scotland
- Investing in infrastructure and transport
- Team Scotland
- Tackling child poverty
- Ensuring everybody lives in high quality, sustainable, affordable homes
- Building a global economy
- Scottish National Investment Bank
- Unlocking entrepreneurship