The next UK Government will have a crucial task ahead in constructing an industrial strategy that will deliver for all of the UK and which will deliver the skills and talents that Scottish businesses need to succeed. Calling for an integration of the strategy at a Scottish and UK level, Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said:
“All of the political parties going into the General Election talk about a new Industrial Strategy as a key part of their economic agenda for the next Parliament. If this is pursued on a UK basis, then it is vital that it takes full account of the devolved settlement and that action is co-ordinated by the Scottish and UK Governments to ensure that Scottish firms can take full advantage of a national focus on the key drivers of business success.
“Our businesses need an environment that enables them to identify opportunities and respond to them in an agile manner. We need a national industrial strategy to set out measures to improve our infrastructure and connectivity, to widen our access to key skills and talents, to identify actions to incentivise and reward positive behaviours and to ensure that we have the most competitive environment to do business. However any UK strategy must recognise that many of those levers are under the control of the Scottish Government and therefore it must be fully engaged if Scottish businesses are to benefit from the strategy to the fullest extent.
“Getting our plans right for skills and talent must be a priority for the Industrial Strategy. Scotland and the UK continue to lag behind competitor nations in terms of our productivity and we need to restore a focus on ongoing work-based learning and re-skilling of older workers in order to ensure that our businesses have access to the talents they need to grow and succeed. This is particularly important, given the demographics of low unemployment and an aging workforce.
“Once this General Election has been decided, there exists a golden opportunity for the Scottish and UK Governments to co-ordinate their activity as never before, putting politics to one side and focusing on how to build the success of our businesses.”