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Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Exciting Opportunity for a Senior Consultant with ekosgen – Glasgow

Application deadline: 10 May 2017

Are you committed to a career in economic development? Do you want to become part of an exciting business and help us to achieve our growth plans? ekosgen is one of the UK’s leading independent economic consultancy firms providing advice to public and private sector clients. We provide economic and social insight to help our clients make better decisions and have a positive impact on people, places and the economy. We aim to be their consultant of choice for expert advice, timely support, innovative thinking and realistic, affordable and workable strategies and plans.

As a consultant your workload will always be changing to reflect new local and national priorities and the needs of our individual clients but you will work on a wide range of economic issues including employment, skills, innovation, business growth, communities, health, land and premises, culture, leisure and tourism.  

Flexibility, team player, listens to clients and has a passion for new ideas and creativity, great at multi-tasking, self-motivated and energetic, can keep calm under pressure and exhibits professionalism. If you think you fit the bill then we want to hear from you!

This is an exciting opportunity for an individual seeking career progression, with:
  • A good honours degree (and ideally a post-graduate qualification) in economics, social geography, politics or town planning
  • At least 5 years previous consultancy and/or research experience
  • Excellent quantitative and analytical skills
  • Excellent written skills including report writing
  • Experience of managing or commissioning consultancy projects
Experience in two or more of the following areas of work is also required:
  • Economic impact assessment
  • Project and programme evaluation
  • Project development and case making support
  • Strategy development
  • Socio-economic assessment
We offer a competitive salary and a range of other benefits including:
  • 35 days holiday
  • Employer contribution pension scheme
  • Childcare vouchers
  • Employee wellbeing initiatives such as cycle to work scheme, travel pass funding
  • A positive and supportive work culture where people are supported to realise their full potential (including through a performance and career management system and training)
  • Staff Wellbeing Package which includes free dental and optical care
  • Performance Related Bonus
We are an Equal Opportunities employer. We do not discriminate on the grounds of gender, race, disability, religion, age or sexuality.

If you are interested in working for a dynamic organisation please send us your CV with a covering letter by email to Lee Williamson, Business Support Manager at lee.williamson@ekosgen.co.uk

The closing date for applications is 10th May 2017.

£500,000 Announced to Tackle Employment Barriers in Scotland

Scottish Government - Funding of £500,000 to address long standing barriers in accessing the labour market has been announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

The Workplace Equality Fund will reduce employment inequalities so that everyone – irrespective of gender, race or disability – has the opportunity to fulfil their potential, and improve Scotland’s economic performance as a result.

Speaking at the STUC annual congress in Aviemore, the First Minister said:

“Our trade union movement is a source of huge strength for our country. We see strong trade unions as vital partners in our efforts to reduce inequality and deliver inclusive growth.

“One of the values our Scottish Business Pledge seeks to encourage is gender equality in the workplace. We want to close the gap between the proportion of men in the workforce and the proportion of women, and tackle barriers to progression and unfair pay differentials.

“But we also know there are employment inequalities across other protected characteristics – like race and disability.  

“So I am pleased to announce that, through our new Workplace Equality Fund, we will provide an initial £500,000 to help address these disparities. The funding will go to groups who can demonstrate that their efforts will help people overcome employment barriers.

“It’s a small but potentially significant way in which we can help address a major economic and social issue.  And it’s in-keeping with the broader principles of the union movement and our shared commitment to fair work and inclusive growth.  By ensuring everyone in society is able to flourish, everybody in Scotland will benefit.”

Background

A commitment to establish the Workplace Equality Fund was made in the Labour Market Strategy.


Wednesday, 19 April 2017

New Scotland House innovation and investment hub opens in London

Scottish Government - Scotland’s latest Innovation and Investment Hub has officially opened in London with more than 450 businesses registering their interest in becoming members in the first few weeks.

Aimed at helping ambitious Scottish companies take advantage of business opportunities in London and internationally, Scotland House will provide touchdown facilities and a place to meet customers and target new markets, secure investment and showcase products and services.

It also brings together officials from the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and VisitScotland under one roof to provide a Team Scotland approach to supporting businesses and attracting visitors and investment to Scotland.

Officially opening Scotland House, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“London is a very important trading market and a meeting place for the world’s business leaders, but for Scottish businesses it can be challenging and costly to try and break into these markets.

“The new hub will play a critical role in attracting investment to Scotland, helping businesses trade internationally and raising Scotland’s international profile.

“Scotland House will provide Scottish companies with a base to build new partnerships and a low cost place to trade and I am pleased that more than 450 businesses are interested in becoming members of the hub.

“As we face the uncertainty and threat of a hard Brexit, having a Scottish hub in London will help support and stimulate the Scottish economy and show that we are open for business.

“We are already seeing the benefits of our presence in Dublin and I look forward to our next investment and innovation hubs in Brussels and Berlin.”

Background

Images from the official opening will be available on https://www.flickr.com/photos/firstministerofscotland

Scottish businesses are being encouraged to register their interest in ‘Scotland House’, which will provide a meeting space for businesses and other organisations as well as London-based support to businesses working with Scotland’s enterprise and tourism agencies.

Full membership details will be launched in the coming weeks, businesses can register their interest in Scotland House.

Based at 58 Victoria Embankment, Scotland House will also provide a base for the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Scottish Development International and VisitScotland in London.


It follows the opening of the first Innovation and Investment Hub in Dublin last year with plans progressing on Hubs in Brussels and Berlin.

FSB: Target £6bn Scottish council procurement spend on smaller firms

FSB - The average Scottish council spends less than a fifth of their procurement budget with local small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), figures uncovered by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) show.

Launching its manifesto ahead of the May 4 council polls, the small business campaign group says Scotland’s incoming town hall administrations must pledge to increase spending with local firms. Scotland’s 32 local authorities spend over £6.1 billion a year procuring goods and services.
Statistics collated by the Improvement Service – the national organisation tasked with improving local government – show that the average Scottish council spent only 19.7 per cent of their procurement budget with smaller firms in their area in 2015/16.

There are 348,000 SMEs operating in Scotland – accounting for 99.3% of all businesses and providing an estimated 1.2 million jobs.

The data shows there’s variation across councils in relation to procurement spend – with West Dunbartonshire council delivering just 5.8 per cent of their budget with local firms. At the other end of the spectrum, Shetland Islands council uses more than half (53.6%) of its spending power boosting the local economy.

FSB says it understands why smaller councils are likely to have lower levels of local procurement. But it highlights that all of Scotland’s city councils, with the exception of Aberdeen, spend less than one pound in four with local SMEs - with Glasgow and Dundee falling behind the national average.
 Procurement - Spend Scotland

Andy Willox, FSB’s Scottish policy convenor, said: “Council budgets are under significant pressure. That’s why it is important that they squeeze every drop of value out of their spending power by targeting it on their local economies.

“We’re calling on every Scottish council to increase their spending with local firms by two per cent per year, delivering a £600m boost to Scottish business by 2021.”
FSB’s procurement call is a key recommendation from their 2017 Scottish local government election manifesto, launched today. The group is also pressing for action on local roads and action to ensure city deals work for local economies.

Andy Willox said: “Most smaller firms have far more contact with their local authority than central government. And we know that smaller firms are key to prosperous local economies. In these uncertain times, strong partnerships between councils and their business communities are more important than ever.   

 “Our manifesto sets out practical measures councils can implement to boost their local economies and reduce demands on council services.”


ENDS

Incubators and accelerators: An updated directory for the UK

Nesta has a long-standing interest in understanding startup support, including methods of incubation and acceleration. 

Today, we publish a new study, commissioned by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and produced by Nesta with support from the UK Science Parks Association (UKSPA) and Synoptica, an artificial intelligence data provider, which maps the landscape of incubators and accelerators in the UK, identifying where they are located and what sectors they cover. 

At the same time, we are also publishing a new directory of incubators and accelerators in the UK. This directory is, we believe, the most comprehensive of its kind for the UK and we hope that it will be a useful tool for both entrepreneurs searching for programmes and facilities to which they can apply, as well as to researchers.



Key findings

  • We identified 205 incubators and 163 accelerators currently active in the UK, considerably more than previously estimated.
  • We estimate that these incubators and accelerators support around 3,450 and 3,660 new businesses per year, respectively, and therefore represent an important component of the startup ecosystem.
  • We estimate that financial support provided by accelerators equates to around £33 million of investment into startups per year.
  • We find that the previous view of accelerators as 'feeder programmes' for incubators no longer hold true: in our study, accelerators reported catering to a similar profile of business stages as incubators, suggesting that accelerators are best seen as alternatives to incubators rather than precursors.
  • We found that the business model of accelerators has also changed: in our Startup Factories report, our definition included the fact that accelerators typically take equity, but we now find that this is much less common than previously reported.
  • We find that corporate-funded programmes are now in the majority, with 51% of programmes receiving finance from this source. Furthermore, this trend for corporate funded accelerators appears to be growing very rapidly. VC funds now account for a small proportion of accelerators.
  • Accelerators are generally less reliant on public funding than incubators, often being financed instead by corporates. All incubators in the North East, along with more than 35% in Wales, Scotland and the West Midlands are entirely public / university funded.
  • While incubators are spread relatively evenly around the UK, more than half of accelerators are currently based in London. However, there appears to be a growing trend of accelerators being set up in other startup hubs such as Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge and Manchester.
  • Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have a greater concentration of both incubators and accelerators, relative to the number of new businesses, than most other regions.
  • There is a low number of incubators and accelerators, relative to the number of new businesses, in the real estate and retail sectors, as well as in construction.
Discussion

Accelerators and incubators continue to grow and develop. This report and accompanying dataset illustrates how these startup support organisations are changing rapidly.  
One consequence of the changing space is that our previous definitions may need updating - especially concerning the matter of equity taken. 

In relation to geography, the concentration of accelerators in London is not entirely surprising - this is where many companies are headquartered, and where the UK's VC industry is based - but in Nesta's view it risks further exacerbating regional inequalities, and may drive a relocation of (digital) talent towards the capital, hindering the development of clusters elsewhere. This is particularly true given that, in our view, many programmes actually have a limited catchment area - that is, programmes which are in principle open to applicants from across the UK may in practice be relatively local. For this reason, the trend towards new accelerators being launched outside London is welcome, in Nesta's view.

We also note that some Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) seem to contain neither an accelerator nor an incubator. Whether or not this is a problem is unclear - it is possible, for instance, that they are adequately served by neighbouring LEPs - but this may warrant examination.
In relation to growth, the current growth rate of accelerators shows no sign of slowing. We estimate that accelerators already support approximately the same number of firms as incubators - although the type of support offered can vary considerably. If the current rate of growth is maintained, we estaimate that there will be more accelerators than incubators in the UK within the next 18 months or so. 

Given this rate of increase, a number of questions emerge. Is this rate sustainable, or are we in an 'accelerator bubble'? Are corporates gaining value from accelerators, or are they simply mimicking competitors? Do some regions of the UK have too many support programmes, or will their presence help stimulate further demand for their services? Do we need a new umbrella organisation to replace the defunct UKBI? Is public money needed to drive more support in certain areas?

This report does not answer these questions, but it does provide a dataset on which to build. The full dataset can be downloaded from the Gov.uk website and we encourage others to interrogate the data further.

If you are involved with an accelerator or incubator and you would like to add or amend some information in the directory, please email accelerators@nesta.org.uk. Any additions or amendments that Nesta receives until the 12th of June 2017 will be added to the directory. Please note: the report will not be updated.


Thursday, 13 April 2017

Scottish business confidence 'rises for first time in two years'

BBC (13/4/2017) – Scottish business confidence has risen for the first time in almost two years, according to a survey.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) found confidence improved slightly in the first quarter of 2017, but remained in negative territory.

That contrasted with the UK as a whole, where more firms were optimistic rather than pessimistic about their prospects.

More than 300 Scottish firms responded to the survey, which took place between 30 January and 17 February.

The study suggested that employment growth was flat for small businesses during the quarter.

While some companies expected an increase in staffing levels over the next three months, hiring intentions were still much lower in Scotland than the UK average.

The survey also suggested that revenues for Scottish small businesses declined during the quarter at the fastest rate for four years.

However, a majority of Scottish firms said they expected sales and turnover to grow over the course of this year.

The state of the domestic economy was highlighted as the largest barrier to growth by almost half of respondents.

Four in 10 firms cited consumer demand as a brake on growth, while a quarter blamed skills shortages and an increasing number of firms raised concerns about rising costs for inputs, fuel and utilities.

FSB said the statistics suggested Scottish economic growth would remain below trend in the near future.

Andy Willox, FSB's Scottish policy convener, said: "Scottish business confidence couldn't fall much further at the end of 2016.

"A bounce at the start of this year is welcome, but looks like it will be tricky to sustain given that firms are reporting falling revenues.

"Too few Scottish businesses have faith that our economy is travelling in the right direction.

"The UK government needs to convince firms that their plans for Brexit will safeguard their interests.

"The Scottish government and our local councils also need to put local growth at the top of their agenda."


Source: BBC News

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Action plan launched to boost Scotland’s social enterprise sector

Scottish Government – A scheme to encourage the launch of new companies that benefit and involve communities has seen annual funding double to £1 million for each of the next three years.

The Social Entrepreneurs Fund offers grants and business support to help people make their ‘social start-up’ aspirations a reality. Increased backing for the fund is just one of 92 commitments made in the 2017-2020 Social Enterprise Action Plan.

The plan follows publication of Scotland’s first-ever Social Enterprise Strategy, aimed at sustainably growing the sector over the next decade. Already, Scotland has more than 5,000 social enterprises – business that reinvest profits to address important issues like homelessness, unemployment or climate change – with 200 new enterprises starting up every year.

Other commitments in the action plan include:

  • £1.2 million for Just Enterprise, a business support programme providing workshops in finance, sales, market research and e-commerce
  • Bringing the international Buy Social certification scheme to Scotland, making it easier for consumers to know the social impact of buying certain products or services
  • Expanding the use of Community Share schemes  – an innovative way for communities to raise capital for new local social enterprises
  • Providing social enterprise learning in every school through the Enterprising Schools programme, inspiring the next generation of social entrepreneurs
Equalities Secretary Angela Constance announced the action plan on a visit to the Milk Café in Govanhill – launched in 2015 with £3,900 seed capital from the Social Entrepreneurs Fund. The café provides employment, training and support for ethnic minority women in Glasgow.

Ms Constance said:

“Scotland’s social enterprises are all about empowering communities and being a catalyst for change.  They also employ more than 100,000 people and contribute around £1.86 billion to our economy each year, so they make a significant economic contribution as well.

“We are already recognised as a social enterprise world-leader, backed by Scottish Government support in 2016/17 of around £6.5 million, however I am determined we do more. That is why we have set out a three-year action plan, including doubling the Social Entrepreneurs Fund, helping encourage the next phase of social enterprise innovators.

“Businesses like the Milk Café – offering a safe space for ethnic minority women to gain work experience, improve their English skills and integrate locally – show the huge difference a social enterprise can make in their local community.”
The Social Entrepreneur Fund is administered by Firstport, Scotland’s development agency for social start-ups. Firstport chief executive Karen McGregor added:

“Social entrepreneurship has a proven ability to tackle problems and transform lives and communities. Firstport supports an average of three people a day to take their first steps into social enterprise and has invested in over 800 social entrepeneurs.

“We are delighted that the Scottish Government is doubling its investment in the Social Entrepreneurs Fund, which combined with Firstport’s free business advice and resources, will enable us to boost the number of social enterprises throughout Scotland even further.”

In a joint statement, Pauline Graham, CEO of Social Firms Scotland, Aidan Pia, executive director of Senscot, and Fraser Kelly, chief executive of Social Enterprise Scotland, said:

“Scotland is driving forward an ambitious strategy for social enterprise growth and development. We believe that the new ten year strategy should be backed up by strong, practical action on the ground. We therefore warmly welcome the launch of the first action plan to take this process forward.

“Our social enterprise community, stretching across every part of urban and rural Scotland, is ambitious and ready to increase its contribution to Scottish society. We now have a clear plan for the growth and development of social enterprise in Scotland over the next decade.”

Background


Thursday, 6 April 2017

International lessons on green transition from Nordic regions

Nordregio - Promoting green transition and building greener economies is currently high on the policy agenda in the Nordic countries. But how can we make it happen in practice? 

To answer this question, Nordregio went directly to those working with green growth at the regional level. Nordregio is a leading Nordic and European research centre for regional development and planning, established by the Nordic Council of Ministers. 

We asked them about the main challenges that impede green growth in Nordic regions, and sought their ideas about potential ways to overcome these challenges and drive the green transition forward. 

These responses were then combined with the findings from a national policy review to inform a detailed analysis of the state of play, practices and needs of Nordic regions with respect to promoting green growth. This policy brief presents the findings of this analysis along with recommendations designed to support regional policy makers in their work towards a greener economy.


Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Scottish investment fund opens in the US

Scottish Enterprise (4/4/2017) – Edinburgh based venture capital firm Par Equity is to open its first US office in San Francisco, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed today.

Par Equity facilitates investment into smaller companies with high growth potential and has launched a $125 million fund, focussed on health technology, for which it will be seeking transatlantic investment.

The firm, which was founded in 2008, will support Scottish companies to expand into the US while meeting the current demand to bring US companies to Scotland.
The USA is Scotland’s top source of inward investment, accounting for 36% of inward investment projects and is Scotland’s second largest export partner - worth £4.56 billion a year, making up 15.9% of all international exports.

The First Minister met representatives from Par Equity at Stanford University ahead of making a speech on Scotland’s place in the world.

Welcoming the announcement, she said: “Scotland’s performance in the science and technology sector continues to grow and this announcement is testament to its success both at home and abroad.
“The Par Equity Fund will be the first Scottish venture capital firm to be fully regulated in both the UK and the US and I hope this will be the first of many success stories in our health technology sector.”

William Guilfoyle, Managing Director of Par Equity, USA said: “We are excited for the opportunity to work with Scotland’s international leadership team in facilitating medical technology investment across the US and UK, which will promote strong growth while enhancing the lives of both Scottish and U.S. citizens.” 

Dr Lena Wilson, Chief Executive of Scottish Enterprise, said “We have co-invested with Par Equity in some of Scotland’s most exciting and ambitious early stage growth companies and today’s announcement will open up new opportunities for many of them, as well as their peers in the US. 

This will also help cement Scotland’s growing reputation for its health technologies and as a great place for globally-minded companies to locate and grow.”


Wednesday, 29 March 2017

IED Manchester Conference, 10th May 2017 – Early bird booking open!

The major economic development event of the year is coming to Manchester this spring.

Taking place on 10th May 2017 at the Lowry Hotel, Manchester, the event will be bringing together economic development, regeneration and business leaders from across the UK to discuss how to achieve true economic development and create an enabling environment for sustainable economic growth.     

What's in store?

Get the latest insights from policy makers, economic development experts and thought leaders, and explore what the new mayors and devolution deals mean for economic development in the North.

Discuss and debate how sustainable and inclusive growth can be achieved, and how we can bridge the North-South divide.

Hear strategic growth ideas balanced with practical examples of innovative approaches to economic development and delivering the growth agenda NOW.

Network with economic development and regeneration professionals from the Northern region and beyond.

To book your place please visit the conference website here. If you book by the 7th April,  you will benefit from a discounted delegate rate.


Thursday, 23 March 2017

Scottish Government's Lead on Brexit Trade Issues Joins Expert Lineup for Workshop on Export Advice and Support

George Burgess, the Scottish Government's Deputy Director of Food, Drink and Trade, is to speak at a day workshop tailored for professionals who advise on and support the global aspirations of businesses and organisations in Scotland.

Delivered by EDAS and SDI on Friday 31st March in Edinburgh, the workshop will also hear expert advice and case studies from senior speakers presenting Scottish Development International, Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Chambers of Commerce, Federation of Small Businesses, Scottish Local Authorities Economic Development Group, Heriot Watt University, Lanarkshire Enterprise Services Ltd, Cultural Enterprise Office and the CEIS Group. You can read the full programme or RSVP here.

Mr Burgess will speak on Scotland's Internationalisation Strategy, particularly in the context of changing circumstances following the Brexit vote. The internationalisation expert is leading on trade issues for the Scottish Government following the Brexit vote, as well as food and drink policy, such as Good Food Nation, industry growth, grants and livestock policy.

With Scotland's exports rising by £1bn from 2014 - 2015, maintaining this trend is a key priority for the Scottish economy. This full-day learning workshop will provide the latest information on strategies, service and product provision, growth sectors, and good practice case studies. We will also discuss global networks and, based on EDAS' Route Map work, look at the importance of engendering an international outlook and culture as a backdrop to successful internationalisation in Scotland.

Importantly, there will be ample time for informal catch up with our speakers and colleagues from across the public, private and third sectors - giving you a chance to learn, share expertise, exchange views and raise questions about developments and news with peers from around the country.

Full event information can be viewed below.


Wednesday, 22 March 2017

FAI Report: Scotland’s Economy Continues to Recover – But Uncertainty Will Act as Brake on Growth

FAI - Recovery in the Scottish economy is forecast to continue this year but will remain weak with little hope of a sharp increase in growth, according to a new report published today by Scotland’s leading independent economic research institute.  To read the full report please click here.

The commentary, provided quarterly by the University of Strathclyde’s Fraser of Allander Institute, suggests growth in Scotland is forecast to remain fragile over the next few years as the downturn in the North Sea continues to bite and weak levels of consumer confidence put a curb on spending. The report finds:

  • The Institute’s new central forecasts are for economic growth of 1.2% in 2017, 1.3% in 2018 and 1.4% in 2019 – broadly unchanged since December’s forecasts.
  • The downturn in the North Sea – alongside lower levels of overall confidence in the economy – suggest that the Scottish economy will continue to lag behind the UK as a whole.
  • Over the 10 years since the start of the financial crisis, the Scottish economy has grown by an average of just 0.7% each year – less than a third of its long-term trend. It is no surprise therefore, that whilst unemployment rates remain close to record lows, the incomes of most households continue to be squeezed.
  • Getting the economy moving again must be a key priority for policymakers from all political parties.
Strathclyde’s academics believe unprecedented levels of policy uncertainty will act as their own headwind on growth.  Yet, with so little clarity over the end outcomes, many businesses appear to be 

‘looking through the uncertainty’ and continue to press ahead with day-to-day activities. Indeed, a number of recent business surveys point to a modest pick-up in activity toward the end of 2016 and into 2017.

The Scottish labour market continues to hold up relatively well the report finds. Employment is close to its record high whilst the current unemployment rate of 4.7% is well below its long-run average. However, with rising inactivity, weak earnings growth and reduced hours worked, the squeeze on households remains challenging.

The prospects of a second independence referendum are likely to dominate debate for the foreseeable future. Whilst the key issues are clear, the arguments this time are likely to be different. For example
:
  • Firstly, in 2014 there was a clear choice between a stable ‘status quo’ – albeit with more devolved powers – and independence. With Brexit and Indyref2, the debate will be set against the backdrop of two types of inevitable economic change.
  • Secondly, it is undoubtedly the case that the recent performance of North Sea oil and gas poses a challenge to any transition to independence. For example, the sharp fall in oil prices has all but eliminated North Sea tax revenues.
  • Thirdly, many of those on the ‘yes’ side in 2014 argued that there would be a degree of continuity between the then status quo and independence; e.g. plans to keep sterling, joint regulation of banks and for both to be members of the EU. This time, the Scottish Government appear open to more radical ideas on issues such as currency, financial regulation and fiscal policy.

Employability Support for Young Scots Care Leavers

TFN - Hundreds of care leavers will be helped to move into work, training or education through a new £1 million programme announced today.

The Care Experienced Employability Programme (CEEP) is a one-year pilot programme to help 270 young care leavers aged 16-29 to move into appropriate work, training or educational opportunities.
CEEP will be led by the third sector Young Person’s Consortium (YPC) which consists of Barnardo’s Scotland, Action for Children and the Prince’s Trust.

It will offer work experience, qualifications, practical skills, involvement in community projects and life coaching that are focussed on the needs of the individual.

Cabinet secretary for economy, jobs and fair work Keith Brown, said the programme is a new approach to helping the young people who face the biggest barriers in our society.

“It will provide wrap-around support for young people who have been looked after at home, and who are recognised as having the most significant challenges to accessing education and skills training opportunities,” he said.

“Recent data shows that we have made significant progress in tackling youth unemployment and Scotland currently has the second lowest youth unemployment rate in Europe, after Germany, with levels at the lowest rate since records began.

“By supporting more young care leavers to access employment, training and education opportunities and close the attainment gap with their peers, we are sending a clear signal that we are determined to go further.

“We have set an ambitious target of achieving a 55% progression rate for the programme in year one to ensure this is delivered.”

Martin Crewe, Director of Barnardo’s Scotland, added: “Barnardo’s Works partnership with the Prince’s Trust and Action for Children will give care experienced young people the opportunity to access apprenticeships and jobs with training, working with our wide range of employer partners.

“This is a golden opportunity to make a step change in how we support care experienced young people on to apprenticeships and jobs. This is a group of young people who are often at the back of the queue when it comes to having that opportunity.

“The partnership is delighted to be able to support Scottish Government in helping to make this significant change.”

Scotland Posts Record Year for Food and Drink Exports

Food and drink exports from Scotland grew by £421 million in 2016, to a record £5.5 billion.

The latest figures show an 8% increase in the value of exports to Scotland’s successful food and drink sector over the past year. 

The figures also show that:

  • Food exports alone grew by 22% to £1.5 billion.
  • The fish and seafood category recorded the largest overall increase of £156 million (up 26%), with Europe the leading export destination. 
  • Exports to EU countries were worth £2.3 billion overall, up £133 million last year.
  • Scotch Whisky exports grew by £153 million (up 4%) to over £4 billion in 2016.
These figures come ahead of the launch of a new industry strategy on 23 March, which will outline plans to support and grow the sector to 2030.

Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing, said:

“Since this government came into office the value of food exports has more than doubled.  Food and drink is now one of the standout success stories in our economy, increasing growth and supporting jobs across the country. 

“Our produce has an excellent reputation around the world and it’s clear the industry is going from strength to strength. The increased collaboration between industry and public sector and the Food and Drink Export Plan are helping this by identifying opportunities to support businesses and breaking down the barriers to trade.

“These figures show the importance of retaining access to the vital European markets, which are currently worth £2.3 billion to the sector, and represent our largest export market. 
"We shouldn't have to face the choice between remaining as part of the UK and the EU single market. The pursuit of a hard  Brexit is a major threat to this success and these figures show why we must work to protect Scotland’s place in Europe.   

“Scotland’s food and drink sector is in fantastic health, and next week’s strategy launch will outline how we plan to support the industry to build upon this success and further grow the sector to 2030.”
James Withers, Chief Executive of Scotland Food & Drink, said:
"The latest export figures are fantastic news and a new high for Scottish food and drink.  This industry is Scotland's fastest growing major sector. Yet we have huge ambitions to grow further.

"We are clear we want to internationalise our food industry, following in the footsteps of our greatest export, Scotch Whisky.  We have now doubled food exports since 2007, transforming the level of trade in growing markets like Asia.  That is crucial to extend our footprint beyond just Europe which is still the destination for over 70% of our food exports.

"The game changer has been developing a national brand for Scottish produce in export markets, with industry and government working hand in hand to invest in overseas trade experts and activity.  If we now further deepen that work, this success story has much further to go."
Susan Beattie, Head of Food & Drink at Scottish Development International, said:

“These excellent export figures reflect the hard work and dedication of Scottish food and drink businesses and strong consumer demand across the world for their high quality premium products.  We’re pleased to play our part in supporting these companies to grow in the top prospect markets identified in the Scotland Food and Drink Export Plan. 

“A key part of this support is the SF&D team of in-market specialists who are opening doors with leading retailers and foodservice organisations, identifying business opportunities which companies are actively following up on.”

Scotland Food and Drink Exports, 2016 and 2015, £m

2016
2015
2015-2016 £m Change
2015-2016 % Change
Live Animals
66
38
29
76%
Meat
72
65
7
11%
Dairy & Eggs
59
87
-29
-33%
Fish & Seafood
759
603
156
26%
Cereals
209
180
30
17%
Fruit & Vegetables
68
63
5
8%
Sugar & Honey
16
9
7
86%
Tea & Coffee
48
48
-0
-1%
Animal Feed
153
95
58
61%
Miscellaneous
51
46
5
12%
Total Food & Live Animals
1,502
1,234
268
22%
Drink[1]
4,002
3,849
153
4%
Total Food & Drink
5,504
5,083
421
8%
[1] Drink exports are defined as exports of Scotch whisky from the UK as per SFD target.


Scottish Government Launches New Digital Strategy Aimed at Digital Employment of 150,000

Scottish Government - Plans to boost the number of digital jobs to 150,000 by 2021 have been outlined in the Scottish Government’s new digital strategy.

Realising Scotland’s full potential in a Digital World sets out how the Scottish Government intends to place digital at the heart of everything it does from reforming public services to delivering economic growth. This includes:

  • Creating the conditions which could lead to 150,000 working in digital technology jobs across Scotland by the start of the next decade.
  • Ensuring that every premises in Scotland is able to access broadband speeds of at least 30Mbps by 2021
  • A new digital schools programme
  • A new round of funding for community digital inclusion projects and expand Scotland’s Digital Participation Charter
  • Infrastructure that is secure and resilient against cyber attack
  • A new Digital Growth Fund to address the current undersupply of digital skills.
Launching the strategy during a visit to a newly converted high-tech acceleration and growth space for aspiring businesses in Glasgow, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Constitution Derek Mackay said:

“Digital is transforming the way we live. It is connecting us faster than ever before while putting more power into the hands of service users. There is a huge opportunity here and now to ensure that people, businesses and organisations across Scotland, are given the tools and skills they need to harness this potential.

“Our vision is for Scotland to become even more digitally competitive and attractive. By developing our existing workforce and increasing our digital capabilities across society and the business community, we will ensure that our citizens have the opportunity to improve their digital skills with everyone who wants to get connected able to do so, and public services designed by and for citizens that are secure. This will in turn will have a positive impact on growing our economy.”

Background

Click here for Realising Scotland’s full potential in a Digital World.
Click here for the Scottish Government’s 2011 Digital Strategy.
Read the recent Digital Growth Fund announcement.
Click here for the Digital Strategy Evidence Paper.

Friday, 17 March 2017

EDAS & SDI Internationalisation Workshop on Exporting, 31.03.17

Learn from Scottish Government, SDI, FSB, SLAED, Scottish Chambers and more! 

This workshop is part one of two practical learning events designed for professionals with a role or interest in supporting and growing the global aspirations of businesses and organisations in Scotland. 

Part two, to be held later this year, will focus on foreign direct investment.

With Scotland's exports rising by £1bn from 2014 - 2015, maintaining this trend is a key priority for the Scottish economy. This full-day learning workshop will provide the latest information on strategies, service and product provision, growth sectors, and good practice case studies. We will also discuss global networks and, based on EDAS' Route Map work, look at the importance of engendering an international outlook and culture as a backdrop to successful internationalisation in Scotland.

Importantly, there will be ample time for informal catch up with our speakers and colleagues from across the public, private and third sectors - giving you a chance to learn, share expertise, exchange views and raise questions about developments and news with peers from around the country.




Programme and Speakers


09:30: Networking Coffee

10:15: Welcome from event Chair - Susan Love, Policy Manager, FSB Scotland and EDAS Board Member

10:25: Scotland's Strategy for Internationalisation -   George Burgess, Deputy Director, Food, Drink and Trade, Scottish Government   

10:45: The Organisational Landscape: A Team Scotland Approach

Scottish Development International will touch on trends, performance, Brexit impact and sector growth areas; followed by detailing its core functions. We will then hear from Scottish Chambers of Commerce and Scottish Local Authority Economic Development Group (SLAED) representatives, outlining their networks' roles and responsibilities in supporting internationalisation.

10:45: Lesley Frostick, Strategy Partner, Scottish Development International and Andy McDonald, Senior Director, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Scottish Development International 

11:05: Val Russell, Chief Executive, Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce representing the Scottish Chambers of Commerce

11:20: Pamela Stevenson, Vice Chair, Scottish Local Authorities Economic Development (SLAED)

11:35: Networks and Engendering a Culture of Internationalisation - Kate MacInnes, GlobalScot Team Manager, Scottish Enterprise

11:50: Panel Discussion and Q & A

12:10: Networking Lunch

13:00: Good Practice Showcase   

A range of advisers, some teamed with their clients, will illustrate good practice examples in promoting, developing and supporting internationalisation.

13:00: Lanarkshire Enterprise Services Ltd

13:15: Gerry Higgins, Chief Executive, CEIS Group

13:30: Joe Pacitti, Assistant Principal, Strategic Projects and Policy, Heriot Watt University

13:45: Q & A

14:00: Cultural Enterprise Office

14:15: Val Russell, Chief Executive, Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce

14:30: Q & A and General Discussion

15:00: Summing Up and Close 

New Figures: Majority of Scottish Children in Poverty Live in Working Households

TFN – One million Scots are now living in poverty, new statistics show.

And campaigners warn more people in paid work are being classified as poor.

The figures, released by the Scottish Government, include 260,000 children, 70% of whom are in households where at least one person is in paid work.

Anti-poverty campaigners have responded to the findings by calling for concerted action by both the UK and Scottish governments to address the growing crisis.

They call on the Scottish Government to use all its new powers to ensure the figures do not turn into long term trends.

This will include using the power to top up benefits that are currently reserved to Westminster.

Peter Kelly, director of the Poverty Alliance, called on the Scottish Government to top up reserved benefits to alleviate the problem.

And, he said, increasing child benefit by £5 per week would help to lift 30,000 children out of poverty and should now be a priority.

“With a child poverty bill now progressing through parliament, there is a real opportunity to improve the lives of families living on a low income and ensure that this is the last generation to grow up in poverty," Kelly said.  

“At UK level, the prime minister and chancellor have shown this week that they are willing to make u-turns when they think it is necessary.

"These figures provide ample evidence of a need to reverse the cuts that have been made to child benefit, jobseekers allowances, tax credits, which are due to be frozen until the end of this parliament. Freezing these lifeline benefits has had a devastating impact on millions of people."

Alison Watson, deputy director of Shelter Scotland, said the lack of affordable housing was having a huge impact on families and individuals living in Scotland, pushing more into poverty and damaging their wellbeing and life chances – especially children.

“That 170,000 more people have been pushed into poverty because of their housing costs should be yet another alarm bell for the Scottish Government that much more needs to be done right now to tackle Scotland’s housing crisis," she warned. 

“It’s simply wrong that one in four children should find themselves in poverty and that more than one in 10 children have been living with persistent poverty for three or more of the last four years.

“We want to see a step change in the provision of good quality and truly affordable homes being delivered in communities where they are needed across Scotland.

"We also need to protect investment in the housing safety net that helps some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in our society through very hard times and keeps a roof over their head.”

She added: “Poverty and homelessness are closely linked – it doesn’t take too much to tip a family over the edge into a spiral of debt, arrears and homelessness. 

"A new national strategy on homelessness is needed to tackle the issues fuelling today’s homelessness.”

Ekosgen Glasgow/Manchester Vacancies: Research Consultant, Consultant and Senior Consultant

We are growing our team of consultants and have vacancies at Research Consultant, Consultant and Senior Consultant level. You should have experience of economic and social research, preferably in a commercial environment, and have experience of building lasting client relationships.

As a member of our team  you would work on a wide range of commissions, including socio-economic assessments, area based economic development strategies, project development work and project appraisals.

For the Research Consultant/Consultant post you should have a good honours degree (and ideally a post-graduate qualification) in economics, social geography, politics or town planning as well as previous economic development consultancy or research experience. This will ideally include experience of economic impact assessment, strategy and bid development, as well as familiarity with socio-economic datasets. Strengths in statistical work, including analysing and presenting quantitative data are a must as are good organisational skills, and excellent IT skills.

We are looking for individuals who are committed to a career in our industry: self-starters who are flexible, work well in a team, have excellent written and oral communication skills and can effectively manage their time to work on multiple commissions at any one time.

As a Senior Consultant you will have at least 5 years professional experience in the relevant field, and have consultancy experience. Your expertise will cover all aspects of economic development, with an understanding and appreciation of government economic policy, learning and skills policy and urban and rural regeneration policy and initiatives. You will have excellent social research skills, both qualitative (focus groups, consultations with individuals and businesses, survey design) and quantitative (economic impact analysis, large scale survey analyses) and experience of evaluation and appraisal of projects and programmes. Contributing to the work winning capability of the office also forms a key part of the role.

We are looking for an individual who is a self-starter with excellent written and oral communication skills. Being able to effectively manage clients and liaise with Office Directors and junior staff is a key requirement as is experience of project management and running projects to time and to budget.
We envisage these positions being full-time, based in our Manchester or Glasgow city centre offices.


To apply, please send us a CV with a covering letter stating the position and location you are interested in to lee.williamson@ekosgen.co.uk

Fraser of Allander Institute: Perhaps not a boring budget after all?

The Fraser of Allander Institute – in association with ICAS – held a post-Spring Budget briefing today (March 10) at the University of Strathclyde.

The presentations from Director, Graeme Roy and Head of Fiscal Analysis, David Eiser, outlined how the revised forecasts for both the economy and borrowing were largely temporary – with the UK Government still on track to borrow around £100bn more over the forecast period than they thought prior to the EU referendum.

These borrowing forecasts are not that dissimilar to those put forward by the SNP during the UK 2015 General Election.

The presentations also discussed developments in the Scottish Budget, including the decision to freeze the higher rate threshold in Scotland and the additional one-off resources found to finance the deal between the Scottish Government and the Green Party to pass 2017-18 Budget.

A key part of this deal was the use of around £125 million of underspend from 2016-17 – the exact same amount of money transferred to the Scottish Government in Barnett consequentials in Wednesday’s Budget.

Charlotte Barbour – Head of Tax at ICAS – talked through the key tax changes facing businesses and individuals in Scotland as a result of changes by the UK and Scottish Governments. These reforms and policy decisions mean that different incentives – such as the decision for certain people to be self-employed or set up as an incorporated businesses – could become an increasingly important but as yet unknown factor in determining future Scottish tax revenues. Such tax inventive changes, alongside potential behavioural responses, need to be closely monitored. 


Fiscal issues facing Local Government in Scotland

The Fraser of Allander Institute has published a report today (March 10) – commissioned by the Scottish Local Government Partnership Group – examining the fiscal outlook for local government in Scotland.

The aim of this report is to shed light on some of the key issues underpinning the debate on local government finance.

Today’s report is a factual summary of these issues and we welcome comments and feedback.    

The FAI is committed to informing and encouraging public debate through the provision of the highest quality analytical advice and analysis. We therefore are happy to respond to requests for factual advice and analysis.

The FAI does not have (and will not take) a position on the specific policy objectives of the report or how it is interpreted.


Tuesday, 14 March 2017

SDS - Making Skills Work for Employers: Clydebank 21st March and Forth Valley 22nd March

*Please note these events are aimed at Employers*

Europe’s highest performing economies are supported by strong systems of work based learning, contributing to low unemployment and fewer skill shortages. Whether your business will be paying the Apprenticeship Levy from 2017, or not, SDS are hosting a morning event for employers of all sizes to inform them of developments and opportunities with the Apprenticeship Family, local support for youth employment, recruiting a diverse workforce and key products supporting work based learning.

Industry-led Foundation, Modern and Graduate Level Apprenticeships are beneficial to employers for a variety of reasons and attending one of these events will ensure that your business has up-to-date information on what is available.  Hear about how the Apprenticeship Family can support your business and what you need to do to make sure young people are part of your business’ future success including local initiatives to support young people into employment and recruiting a diverse workforce.

Make sure your business benefits from the range of apprenticeships and support available by registering on Eventbrite to attend your local event.



Women’s Enterprise Scotland Launches Programme to Improve Gender-Specific Support

Women’s Enterprise Scotland (WES) has launched a training programme to improve gender-specific support among business advisors.

Launched to coincide with International Women’s Day, the programme offers insight into gender-appropriate techniques and best practice to help staff develop effective plans, providing a route map for analysis and action planning.

Carolyn Currie, chief operating officer at WES said, “Women are clear about their business aspirations for growth and the value they place on women specific services. It is crucial that we unlock the economic opportunity represented by women in business and business advisors have a pivotal role to play in this.”


Read more: Herald

Scottish Government & COSLA Announce £25m in Regeneration Funding for Communities

SG - Local areas across Scotland are set to benefit from a share of £25 million to help regenerate their communities.

A total of 29 projects will be awarded funding in 2017/18 as part of the Regeneration Capital Grant Fund (RCGF), which supports projects in disadvantaged areas that engage and involve local communities.

The joint Scottish Government and COSLA investment will inject new life and opportunity into disadvantaged and fragile rural areas, helping support or create more than 2,300 jobs, support some 50 community facilities and services and refurbish or bring back into use around 25 local buildings.

Projects being funded include:

  • £1.9 million to Aberdeen City Council to deliver a new, purpose built community hub in Tillydrone
  • £1.6 million to Argyll & Bute Council for the Tobermory Light Industrial Park – a purpose built site on Mull to support the business community
  • £750,000 to City of Edinburgh Council for the Leith Walk Studios, providing workspaces for new businesses and creative entrepreneurs, and the Street Market and Community Partnership Service Hub project to re-develop derelict buildings and launch a new street market initiative
  • £1.2 million for the former Midmills campus of Inverness College, bringing back into use listed city centre buildings
  • £475,000 to Scottish Borders Council towards the Newcastleton Hub & Community Fuel Pumps regeneration project
Local Government Minister Kevin Stewart and Cllr Stephen Hagan, COSLA Spokesperson for Development, Economy and Sustainability, announced the funding on a visit to Out of the Blue in Leith, one of the sites that will benefit.
Mr Stewart said:

“I am delighted that 29 fantastic locally-driven projects will benefit from this major injection of funding. Spanning the length and breadth of the country, they will help regenerate local areas, stimulate economic growth and create new jobs.

“The focus of the projects range from tackling social isolation to services to address health inequalities, educational attainment, support ex-offenders and boost tourism. They are an excellent example of how national and local government are working together on shared priorities that benefit local communities.

“I’m also pleased to announce that RCGF funding has been confirmed until 2021 – and that a call for applications to the fund for 2018/19 will be made shortly.”
Cllr Hagan said:

“I’m very pleased to announce today the projects to be funded in 2017/2018 from the joint COSLA and Scottish Government RCGF. This fund is invaluable in helping to transform communities up and down the country and results in strong economic, social and physical regeneration outcomes.

“The diversity of the projects being supported is a testament to innovative thinking from local communities where regeneration activity is being tailored to local circumstances.

“The RCGF continues to go from strength to strength and the successful projects announced today reinforce local authorities’ commitment to regenerating their local communities for the benefit of local people.”

Background:

A total of 95 Regeneration Capital Grant Fund projects have been supported since 2014/15. Funding has been confirmed for the remainder of the current parliamentary term, subject to annual spending reviews.

The fund, which has been developed in partnership with COSLA and local authorities, is open to all 32 Scottish local authorities and their Special Purpose Vehicles. An independent panel makes recommendations on which projects should receive funding.

The projects awarded funding for 2017/18 are:
Lead organisation
Project title
*Grant requested
Aberdeen City Council
Tillydrone Community Hub
 £1,900,000
Argyll & Bute Council
Oban Maritime Quarter- Transit Berthing Facility
 £700,000
Argyll & Bute Council
Ardrishaig Waterfront - Maritime Hub Phase 1
 £580,000
Argyll & Bute Council
Tobermory Light Industrial Park
 £1,600,000
City of Edinburgh Council
Broomhouse Community Hub
 £801,600
City of Edinburgh Council
Leith Walk Studios, Street Market and Community Partnership Service Hub
 £750,000
Clyde Gateway URC
Arena District Industrial Development - Enabling Works
 £600,000
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar
Isle of Lewis Heritage Programme
 £870,000
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar
Castlebay Harbour Initiative
 £302,195
Dumfries & Galloway Council
Stranraer Millennium Centre
 £987,735
East Ayrshire Council
Ayrshire Food from Ayrshire Folk
 £920,000
East Dunbartonshire Council                                                                          
 Auchinairn Community Regeneration Project
 £1,500,000
East Lothian Council
The Fraser Centre Capital Project: Achieving Change in Tranent
 £730,000
Falkirk Council
Arnotdale House, Falkirk - Community Hub
 £1,125,547
Glasgow City Council
Elderpark Community Centre
 £400,000
Glasgow City Council
Pollokshields Community Hub
 £550,000
Glasgow City Council
Seven Lochs-Easterhouse Community Gateways
 £675,000
Highland Council
Midmills Creative Hub
 £1,200,000
Highland Council
Redevelopment of the Gairloch AAOR Site
 £350,000
Midlothian Council
Track 2 Train
 £360,000
Orkney Islands Council
Orkney Research Campus Phase 1
 £500,000
Perth & Kinross Council
Creative Exchange Perth
 £335,000
Raploch URC Company
Kildean Employability & Enterprise hub
 £900,000
Renfrewshire Council
Paisley Town Centre Regeneration: Learning & Cultural Hub
 £1,500,000
Renfrewshire Council
Mossedge Village Project
 £800,000
Riverside Inverclyde URC
Micro-Business Enterprising Communities Hub, Greenock
 £900,000
Scottish Borders Council
Newcastleton Hub & Community Fuel Pumps
 £474,720
South Lanarkshire Council    
Community Resource Hub
£450,000
Transforming Communities: Glasgow                                                           
Citizens Theatre Redevelopment
£2,500,000


£25,261,797
*Final grants may change as they are subject to technical checks on applications being completed.
Source: Scottish Government