Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Land Reform Act Comes into Force

(28/06/2016) - Changes on the use of common good land, business rates for shooting and deerstalking, and deer management have come into force.

Other parts of the act – including those on agricultural holdings and on landowners engaging with communities – will begin later in the parliamentary session.

The provisions will:

• End the exemption from business rates for shooting and deerstalking. This means these businesses will be subject to the same arrangements as others in Scotland from April 2017

• Give local authorities the power to change the use of some types of common good land if they apply for court consent

• Award new powers on the management of deer populations

Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham said:

“I am pleased to note the first parts of this act come into force. The Land Reform Act builds on the foundations of this Government’s wider programme of reform across urban and rural Scotland. The act will enable communities and individuals to own and use land to realise their full potential.

“These first provisions mean that we will tax shooting and deer stalking businesses in the same way as other businesses in Scotland. They also modernise the law on common good land so councils can better use this resource. Finally, they create new powers to manage wild deer populations.

“Today marks a vital next step in a wider and on-going programme of reform across Scotland. A land rights and responsibilities statement and a Scottish Land Commission will follow. We will also support landowners to better engage with communities and will shortly begin to implement the act’s agricultural holdings provisions.

“Implementing the act is not the end of our land reform journey but an important step in ensuring that land in Scotland delivers benefit for everyone.”

Thursday, 23 June 2016

EDAS AGM 2016 - Scotland’s Economy and the European Union: A Time for Reflection

On Friday 17 June EDAS held its AGM as part of a special event entitled “Scotland’s Economy and the European Union: A Time for Reflection”. Read the Storify report of the event here.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Non Executive Director Vacancies with EDAS - Applications Deadline 14/07/16

EDAS - The Economic Development Association Scotland is a voluntary, membership based organisation committed to an evidence-based examination of all aspects of Scottish economic development. We have over 2,500 individual and corporate members across wide ranging sectors and geographies. Collectively they represent many strands of opinion and experience, but all are bonded by a deep desire to improve the impact and effectiveness of policy making. Our mission is to ensure that key aspects of economic development are kept at the forefront of economic debate and comment in Scotland. Through shared experience, networks and skills; as well as referencing evidence and facts, EDAS is positioned as one of Scotland's most authoritative and respected sources of informed commentary on economic development.
EDAS organises regular events all over Scotland with leading speakers on key economic development issues, to enable members to connect, learn, exchange information and enjoy a neutral space for policy discussion. EDAS also regularly organises popularfoundation and update courses in economic development.
This is an exciting time for the organisation, with 2016 seeing the culmination of our policy analysis framework, A Route Map for Common Ambition for Scotland.
We currently have vacancies for three directors. Although any relevant background will be considered, we are particularly looking for people with expertise or a background in corporate governance, the voluntary sector, or people at the early stage of their professional career in economic development. We are also aiming to expand the diversity of the Board.
Directorships are unpaid, though expenses will be covered.  The Board meets quarterly, generally in Glasgow. Meetings last no more than two hours. Most directors are also involved in one or more Board sub groups which cover Finance and Governance, CPD and Membership, and Policy.  Directors serve a maximum of four terms of three years and are required to retire and be the subject of re-election every three years.
As a Director of EDAS, you can expect to enjoy making new connections, leading on the development and growth of the organisation, and supporting your professional development.
If you feel that you have the skills and commitment to become a director, please send your CV, detailing two referees, to Elaine Bone  If you would like to have an initial discussion regarding your interest, please contact Elaine Bone on 07801 354591 or at ebone@edas.org.uk.
Closing Date for applications:  Thursday, 14th July 2016. Interviews will be held at the end of July and nominations taken to the current Board of Directors in August.  The first meeting of the new Board will be held in November.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Opportunities to Participate in Venturefest Scotland

21/06/2016 - Venturefest Scotland 2016 – Scotland’s national business innovation event for high-growth SMEs, entrepreneurs, investors, innovators and academics – is offering the following opportunities for participation in the event. Venturefest Scotland will take place on 1 September 2016 in Glasgow Science Centre.

Call for Entries to our Innovation Showcase  

 Do you know a high-growth Scottish company who would be interested in taking part in our Innovation Showcase?  Participation is FREE and last year 10 companies were invited to take part including Insignia Technologies, IQ Chocolate, Epipole and Arbikie Vodka.  
 This year we are planning to invite 20 companies across all sectors to showcase their ground-breaking products and services to an audience including investors looking for the next big idea.
Know anyone who might fit the bill?  If so, please contact Georgia Goodall at Speakeasy Productions on 0131 557 1288; Georgia.goodall@speak.co.uk

Pitchfest Workshop Stream

Do you know an ambitious business who could benefit from valuable pitch training?  If so, we will be running a series of pitching masterclasses at Venturefest Scotland delivered by some of the best in the industry including Scottish Edge, Entrepreneurial Spark, EIE, Young Company Finance and the Saltire Foundation.  More details coming soon!

Exhibition and Sponsorship Opportunities

1,000 business influencers are expected to attend Venturefest Scotland 2016 and exhibition and sponsorship opportunities are still available. Some of our confirmed exhibitors and sponsors include Standard Life; the Intellectual Property Office, the University of Strathclyde and Morisons LLP. 

2016 Stakeholder Toolkit

Our stakeholder toolkit contains a huge range of assets to help you promote Venturefest Scotland 2016 to your networks including the official logo, proud to support banners, photos from the 2015 event, suggested content for tweets and key messages.  
To access the toolkit, please click this link:  http://qlnk.io/ql/5734a164e4b0e85bcc766228

Event: Digital Public Services for the Next Generation – Edinburgh, 30 June 2016

21/06/2016 - PA Consulting in Edinburgh is holding a digital event on Thursday 30th June 2016 (6-9pm), on the topic of “Digital public services for the next generation”. 

Caroline Lamb, CEO of NES; Chris Aitken, Computing Science Teacher at Wick High School; and PA Consulting are all presenting.  PA will also be bringing up some kit from their iLab in Cambridge to demonstrate to attendees – all very exciting. 

If you wish to attend the event, please contact Audrey.stewart@paconsulting.com to reserve a place. 

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Unemployment in Scotland Falls by 11,000

15/06/2016 - Unemployment in Scotland has fallen by 11,000 between February and April to stand at 160,000, official figures show.

The jobless rate north of the Border continues to be higher than that of the whole of the UK, at 5.8 per cent compared with 5 per cent.

The labour-market statistics also show employment in Scotland fell by 48,000 over the three-month period. The number of people in employment in Scotland now stands at 2,580,000.

The Scottish employment rate decreased over the quarter to 73.2 per cent compared with a UK average of 74.2 per cent.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said: “It is welcome news that unemployment has fallen by 11,000 over the three months to April, but these figures also show that the downturn in the oil and gas sector is having a significant, ongoing impact.

“The UK Government is continuing to work with the Scottish Government and other partners to do everything possible to support the North Sea industry and boost Scotland’s economy.

“Because of the broad shoulders of the wider UK economy, we have been able to take unprecedented action to support the sector.”

The Scottish Government highlighted figures on female employment rates and youth employment, unemployment and inactivity rates, where Scotland “outperforms” the UK.

Employability minister Jamie Hepburn said: “The latest employment figures show a fall in unemployment over the last quarter, which is to be welcomed.

“However, as the employment rate has fallen we are clear we need to increase our efforts to improve the economy by investing in jobs and creating a competitive and supportive business environment.

“The Government’s forthcoming labour-market strategy will recognise the opportunities and challenges we face in our workplaces, including labour-market participation.

“We are working hard to support job creation while our economic strategy outlines our priorities, which include investing in infrastructure, fostering innovation, promoting inclusive growth and promoting Scotland on the international stage to boost trade and inward investment.”

Across the rest of the UK unemployment has fallen to an eight-year low as the numbers in work continues to reach record levels, the new figures show.

Source: Scotsman

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Oil and Gas Conference in Aberdeen Focuses on Investment and Technology

14/06/2016 - Industry and government figures are to attend the annual Oil and Gas UK conference in Aberdeen.

Investment, exploration and new technology will form the focus of this year's event at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC).

Scotland's Economy Secretary Keith Brown and UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Amber Rudd will be among those in attendance.

Discussion on the EU referendum will also play a part in the two-day event.

Jobs lost as a result of the downturn in the UK oil and gas sector could top 120,000 by the end of this year, according to a report last week.

Industry body Oil and Gas UK has estimated 84,000 jobs linked to the industry went in 2015, with 40,000 losses expected this year.

Source: BBC

David Scrimgeour: Scotland Must Focus on Outward Investment

14/06/2016 - David Scrimgeour MBE, a Scots lawyer now working as a strategy and business adviser in Germany for more than 25 years, has written an opinion article in the Scotsman newspaper arguing that Scotland cannot depend on Foreign Direct Investment alone for its long term economic development strategy, and must also focus on outward investment.

Mr Scrimgeour referenced the importance of examining the Scottish Government’s new trade and investment strategy, and cited EDAS’ article series Culture, Outlook and Scottish Internationalisation as one effort which looks at the factors influencing Scotland’s engagement with the world. David is one of the authors of the article series.

“As recognised in the recent Economic Development Association of Scotland series of articles, the road to foreign markets starts with an intercultural awareness instilled from an early age,” he stated.

Read the full article.

Monday, 13 June 2016

IPPR Publishes Report on Jobs and Skills in Scotland

13/06/2016 - Scots in lower-skilled jobs are less likely to progress to higher-skilled ones than in the rest of the UK and much of Europe, a report has found.

It also found a shortage of suitable skills at middle career level.

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) Scotland said skills training has some elements that perform at least as well as the rest of Britain

But it concluded that training for those aged 16 and over is not focused on current or future demand.

The think tank has challenged Scots to look beyond comparison with the rest of the United Kingdom if it is to compete economically.

Its report, Jobs and Skills in Scotland, found 118,000 jobs were created between 2010 and 2015, when the economy was struggling to recover from recession.

However, the jobs recovery has been weaker than the rest of the UK, and Scotland's employment rate has gone, in those years, from being higher than the UK average to being lower.

Jobs growth in Scotland has been in lower-skill sectors while losing jobs in higher skill industries - including financial services, down by nearly 10% in Scotland between 2010 and 2015.

There has been more of a balance in Scotland between manufacturing and the service sector than across the rest of Britain, where 87% of new jobs have been in services.

The gap between Scotland and the rest of Britain on average pay and productivity has been narrowed, but largely because the wider UK economy has seen productivity stall.

Among the particular problems of the Scottish jobs market is the lowest rate in Britain of career progression from low-skill to higher-skill employment. British career progression is low by international standards.

There is also a mismatch of job vacancies in Scotland with middle-level skills at early career level, with around 29,000 too few people qualified to fill them.

IPPR Scotland recommends reform which links funding and effort more strongly to career progression, productivity and tackling in-work poverty.

It urges better integration of employer needs with engagement of young people. A new regional regime is recommended, combining budgets.

The think tank also recommends that skills training should be directed towards new ways of learning that prepare younger people for future jobs, linked to demographic and technological change.

More ambition

Russell Gunson, director of IPPR Scotland, commented: "This report shows that while Scotland has seen a jobs recovery in recent years, there are real concerns looking ahead.

"Scotland needs to be more ambitious than aiming to match the UK economy. When UK pay has been falling in real-terms and productivity has stalled, we need to do more than catch up with the UK.

"It's not good enough that if you are currently in a low-skilled job in Scotland, you are more likely to stay in low-skilled employment than in most of the rest of the UK, and many other countries in Europe.

Keith Brown, the new economy secretary at the Scottish government, welcomed the report's positive findings about strengths in the Scottish jobs market, and pointed to the administration's commitment to expand the Modern Apprenticeship scheme over the next five years.

He added: "We have announced a review of enterprise and skills agencies to ensure we maximise our skills and economic interventions to support businesses and development opportunities, develop the skills the economy needs and create a competitive and supportive business environment".

Source: BBC

Friday, 10 June 2016

Glasgow City Region Deal Website

10/06/2016 - The Glasgow City Region Deal website is now live – follow the link here to read more about the over £1 bn investment in regeneration and development: http://www.glasgowcityregion.co.uk/

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

£350K Awarded to Support Community Ownership

08/06/2016 - Communities across Scotland will now receive support to become land or buildings owners thanks to a £350,000 fund.

The money, awarded to the Community Ownership Support Service (COSS) for 2016/17, aims to provide community groups and public bodies with support to transform buildings or land assets. The service has previously helped to turn former council offices and empty shops into community hubs, art venues or sports centres.

Since 2011, the service has supported more than 490 projects, helping facilitate 78 asset transfers of buildings or land to local communities.

The support service offers expert advice on all aspects of asset transfer, as well as training courses, good practice guides and toolkits for communities wanting to take on buildings or waste land.
Communities Cabinet Secretary Angela Constance announced the funding while visiting Kirknewton Community Development Trust, who benefitted from support from COSS and have recently received funding from the Scottish Land Fund to help buy land which will be used to build zero-energy housing for older people.

Ms Constance said:

“I’m delighted to announce this funding today, which will support communities across Scotland to take on buildings and land and use them for the good of their community and improve their local area.

“Every area has a building or land that could be transformed if local people were given the support, help and, importantly, control, to make a difference.

“This fund will help communities transform buildings into spaces fit for purpose, and inject life into town and village centres by regenerating disused spaces, generating income and creating jobs.

“Kirknewton Development Trust is an excellent example of where community ownership has helped bring people together and create spaces with purpose.”

Ian Cooke, Director of the Development Trusts Association Scotland, which delivers COSS, said:
“This announcement of renewed funding for the Community Ownership Support Service is most welcome. Groups the length and breadth of Scotland are using asset transfer to protect and sustain local services, create economic benefits and generally transform their communities.

“The Scottish Government's ongoing funding will allow COSS to continue supporting these communities to fulfill their ambitions for asset ownership.”

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

More Modern Apprenticeships Provided by Business and Industry

07/06/2015 - Businesses in Scotland employed a record number of Modern Apprentices last year as more than 25,500 young people got the chance to work, learn and earn.

More than a third of all new Modern Apprenticeships were in science, technology, engineering and maths-related (STEM) areas.

There were 25,818 new Modern Apprenticeship places during the last financial year from April 2015 to April 2016.

Four out of five apprenticeships were taken up by 16 to 24-year-olds and overall 41 per cent of apprenticeship starts were female.

SDS Chief Executive Damien Yeates, said: “Continued investment in Modern Apprenticeships from employers across Scotland, through a period of what remains challenging economic conditions, shows the value businesses place on developing their workforce to meet future skills needs.”

Real contribution

Employability Minister Jamie Hepburn met apprentices at BT’s headquarters in Edinburgh to mark the announcement.

He said: “Modern Apprentices make a real contribution to the Scottish economy.

“Apprenticeships offer our young people better career prospects and have a positive impact on businesses and industry, bringing value to both employers and the economy.

“It is fantastic that we have surpassed our target to deliver 25,500 Modern Apprenticeships this year.
“This will now increase to 26,000 for the year ahead and we are on course to achieve to 30,000 by 2020.

“I have seen today at BT the success stories behind these figures. Meeting with engineering apprentices at BT shows the completion of a Modern Apprenticeship is not only great for the individual but also makes a real difference to their employer.

Rewarding career

Brendan Dick, BT Scotland director, said: “An apprenticeship with one of the world’s leading telecommunications companies is a great way to start a rewarding career.

“Apprentices are at the heart of our business, bringing fresh ideas and new ways of working to the teams they join. Many quickly move into management roles having taken advantage of development opportunities during their apprenticeship.”

Improving access and increasing diversity in Modern Apprenticeships is a key area of work for SDS and partners.

SDS’s Equalities Action Plan for Modern Apprenticeships sets out activity the organisation and partners are taking to address inequality.

Last year the number of apprentices who declared a disability increased to 3.5 per cent.

SDS Director of National Training Programmes, Katie Hutton, said: “We know there is still a lot to do.

“However, the increase is testament to the work that being been done with individuals, employers, training providers and disability groups to continue to widen access.”

Source: SDS

Friday, 3 June 2016

Latest State of Scotland's Economy Report Published

03/06/2016 - The latest State of the Economy report has been published today by Scotland’s Chief Economist Dr. Gary Gillespie.

Dr Gillespie’s report highlights:
  • Annual growth of 1.9 per cent in 2015 with independent forecasters predicting continued growth through 2016 and 2017.
  • The labour market remains resilient though the most recent data show employment has fallen back from the record level achieved in 2015.
  • Subdued export markets, alongside domestic challenges associated with the Oil and Gas sector, are still a factor in 2016, though there is the potential for growth as impacted areas rebalance and create new opportunities.
Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work, Keith Brown, said:

“Today’s State of the Economy report shows that Scotland’s economy continued to be resilient in the face of extremely challenging global headwinds, with the construction sector supported by Scottish Government investment in public infrastructure.”

“The challenges facing the economy look set to persist through 2016, however, the fundamentals of the Scottish economy are strong with high levels of employment and rising productivity.
We have to be conscious of the challenges we face, and conscientious in facing up to them – but we also have to be aware of our strengths and successes if we are to be able to build on them.

“There are opportunities as Scotland also continues to be a very attractive location for business growth and inward investment. Just last week, the Ernst and Young Attractiveness Survey which ranked Scotland as the top region outside London for FDI in 2015, creating over 5,300 jobs.”

“With such strong foundations in place, the Scottish Government will continue to work with businesses to focus on growing the economy and promoting Scotland as a great place to do business.”

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Skills and Enterprise Agencies to be Reviewed, Economy Secretary Keith Brown Pledges

01/06/2016 - The roles of Skills Development Scotland, the Scottish Funding Council and Scottish Enterprise are to be reviewed as a part of the Scottish Government’s new approach to the economy, the new Economy Secretary Keith Brown has announced.

The review will be led by Brown himself. “The review will consider how best to deliver and enhance the Agencies’ services and functions to meet new client expectations and deliver on Government ambitions around productivity,” he said.

Brown’s new role is part of a restructuring of the cabinet which saw the finance brief split into two roles. Brown took responsibility for jobs and the economy while Derek Mackay oversees the country’s finances.

Last week Nicola Sturgeon said the relationship between the enterprise, skills and development agencies would also be looked at.

Labour MSP Colin Smyth said the current model produced geographical inequalities.
"It is simply unfair that a business in the Highlands and Islands can receive support, but—because the remit of Highlands and Islands Enterprise is different from that of Scottish Enterprise—the same business would not receive the same support if it was based in the south of Scotland," he said.

The Scottish Labour manifesto before May’s election proposed merging Scottish Enterprise and Skills Development Scotland into a new singular ‘Skills Scotland’ quango.

Scottish Enterprise previously had a skills remit until the creation of Skills Development Scotland in 2008, which merged Careers Scotland, the Scottish University for Industry and modern apprenticeships.

Scottish Companies on Mission to Asia’s “Final Frontier”

01/06/2016 - Dr Lena Wilson, chief executive of Scottish Enterprise and Chair of Scotland’s Energy Jobs Taskforce, is leading the first ever delegation of Scottish companies to Myanmar in a bid to identify trade, investment and collaboration opportunities in the market.

Myanmar, which has vast underdeveloped oil and gas reserves in deep waters similar to that of the North Sea, has been hailed as Asia’s final frontier after recently opening its doors to international trade and investment following decades of military rule.

Currently serviced by other markets such as Singapore and Thailand, the Myanmar Government is keen to develop its own indigenous oil and gas industry and wants to capitalise on foreign investment and technology to build local capacity and expertise.

Joining Dr Wilson on the visit to Myanmar this week includes some of Scotland’s largest companies including global temporary power company Aggreko, who is already active in the market, as well as North East oil and gas firms Wood Group, ASCO and Bibby Offshore.

The delegation will meet with the Myanmar’s new Minister for Energy and Electricity, Mr Pe Zin Tun, as well as leading local and international oil and gas companies already active in Myanmar to explore key opportunities in the local supply chain.

Lena Wilson, chief executive of Scottish Enterprise said: “Scotland and Myanmar have strong historic connections going right back to the 19thcentury when Scottish owned Burmah Oil Company became the first company to drill for oil in the country in 1886.

“Myanmar now stands at exciting phase of its own oil and gas development – much like Aberdeen did in the 1970s - with huge natural resources to capitalise on but to grow its local industry, it will need access to technology, skills and expertise across the whole supply chain from seismic surveying and engineering design right through to project management, health and safety and training and education.

“These are all core strengths of Scotland’s oil and gas industry built up through 50 years of experience of working in the North Sea. We have a real opportunity now to show how Scotland can help support Myanmar to build the capacity it needs while at the same time providing much needed international opportunities for our own industry.”

The trade mission follows a visit by a Myanmar delegation to Offshore Europe in Aberdeen last year, which visited a number of Scottish companies including Wood Group in Aberdeen and ASCO’s supply base in Peterhead.

Following the visit to Myanmar, Ms Wilson will then travel to Vietnam along with some of the Scottish companies to identify potential opportunities in what is a more established oil and gas market but still relatively untapped by Scottish companies.