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Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Applications Now Open for the 2017 IED Annual Awards

The Institute for Economic Development is now accepting applications for the 2017 awards for best practice.

It is a great opportunity to showcase the achievements of your organisation, raise your profile and standing in the economic development community and gain publicity through the Institute’s own PR mechanisms including an announcement at Conference, press releases and sharing of all best practice in an end of Awards economic development manual.

The awards are open to all corporate members whether in large or small / public or private organisations and open to all types of projects large or small.

Awards categories are:

Impact. Greatest economic impact – an award which recognises how economic fortunes have changed as a result of a project with impressive economic outcomes.

Innovation. Most innovative strategy – an award celebrating those strategies which dealt with an evidence based issue in what the judges regard as the most innovative manner.

Implementation. Best implementation – an award which recognises those projects where a strategy has been put in place and executed particularly efficiently and effectively.

Sustainability. Most sustainable outcome – this award will consider sustainability in terms of financial outcome (ie self-financing / cost reducing), social or environmental outcome. Clearly the more sustainable features the better.

The application will then be automatically included in the following three awards:

▪ Best small firm of the year in economic development (up to 25 staff)
▪ Best medium sized firm of the year (25-100 staff)
▪ Best large firm of the year in economic development


We are looking forward to receiving a high quality of applications which must be submitted before 30th September 2017. Interested organisations from the public and private sector alike can apply and the details can be accessed by clicking here.

Digital Society 2017 Conference: Digital solutions to reducing poverty and tackling inequality in Scotland

Digital Society 2017 is a half day event focusing on reducing poverty & inequality in Scotland through digital innovation.

The Scottish Government's digital strategy, Realising Scotland's full potential in a digital world: A Digital Strategy for Scotland has highlighted the importance of technology in improving our society as a whole. This conference will bring together tech gurus with social policy experts to share knowledge, ideas and resources to generate new innovative approaches towards realising this goal.

Poverty remains Scotland's biggest social issue and digital technology is widening the inequality gap. Carnegie Trust UK reported that more than 1 million Scots have been left behind in the digital revolution. Digital exclusion can lead to social exclusion, poor educational attainment and lower levels of skills having a severe impact on our society and economy.
It is time to make a change. Advacment in digital technology is an opportunity to tackle poverty head on. Digital Society 2017 aims to faciliate this discussion and provide an opportunity for cross sector networking.
Join in the discussion online: #DigitalSociety2017

DATE AND TIME

Featured speakers include:

  • Naomi Eisenstadt- Independent Poverty Adviser to the Scottish Government
  • Ewan Aitken - CEO, Cyrenians
  • Maggie Morrison - Vice President Public Sector, CGI Scotland
  • David McNeill - Digital Director, SCVO
  • Nilufar Anwar - Non-executive director, #techmums
  • Douglas White - Head of Advocacy, Carneigie Trust UK
  • Gillian Docherty - CEO, The Data Lab
  • Peter McColl - Head of Policy, Scotland, Nesta
  • Elaine Melrose - Group Director of Resources, Wheatley Group
  • Craig Steele - Digital Skills Specialist & Leader, CoderDojo, Scotland
  • Bella Combest - COO & Head of Community, Street Change UK
Why attend:
With the continued integration of technology into our everyday lives #DigitalSociety2017 will be a unique opportunity for the public, third and private sectors to come together to discuss how digital innovation can be used to create social change.
Digital Society 2017 will discuss:
• Reducing Scotland’s digital divide;
• Creating social change through digital innovation;
• Up - skilling the nation to create a strong digital economy; and
• Using Big Data to tackle complex social issues.
We want you to join in the conversation!
FutureScot has created a space on the website for speakers, delegates and interested parties to discuss how digital innovation can be used to create a fairer, more equal society.

If you would like to make a contribution please get in contact with Aileen O'Hagan on aileen@canongate.org.
If you have any questions, please email aileen@canongate.org or check out the website for more information.
Source: Eventbrite

Scotland’s Alliance for Action Regeneration Programme Expanded

SURF - Further investment by the Scottish Government and other key partners, means that SURF will be expanding its highly successful Alliance for Action programme over the course of 17/18.

Work is already underway towards the introduction of three new sites of cross sector collaboration, in addition to the three existing ones in Govan, East Kirkcaldy and Rothesay.

A Dunoon initiative is in active development. A Langholm focused feasibility study will take place in the autumn and discussions are scheduled for exploring a Dundee option. An outline of the purpose, process and anticipated outcomes is available at this link.

That summary also mentions two new complementary SURF projects; our Index of Multiple Assets and Aspirations and our People and Sector Connector service, which will link regeneration colleagues from all over Scotland with the learning and practical realities of connecting places, people, policy, processes and resources.

For further information on the Alliance for Action programme click HERE


Source: SURF

Monday, 24 July 2017

Edinburgh and South-East Scotland City Deal Investment Announced

BBC News - Edinburgh and south-east Scotland are to receive a multi-million pound boost after the latest City Deal was agreed.

The UK and Scottish governments are each investing £300m in the project.

The money will be used to support innovation, infrastructure, housing, tourism and culture including a new concert hall in St Andrew Square.

Contributions from councils and universities are expected to take the total investment in the deal to about £1bn.

The money will support the creation of five new innovation hubs, including in robotics and space technologies.

Investments at Heriot-Watt, Queen Margaret and Edinburgh Universities are envisaged.

'Ahead of the game'

The Edinburgh and South East of Scotland City Region Deal was due to be announced at the end of March but was delayed by the elections.

City of Edinburgh Council leader Adam McVey, said: "I am delighted that this ambitious deal for the region has now been agreed, creating up to 21,000 new jobs.

"This will allow us to transform the area delivering high-quality jobs, housing, critical infrastructure, a new skills programme, and a world-class concert hall.

"The significant investment in innovation and culture is also to be welcomed as they are both hugely important to the region's economy. This will put us at the forefront of data-driven innovation ensuring we are ahead of the game in a technology driven world."

Shona Haslam, Scottish Borders Council leader, said: "This is excellent news for the Scottish Borders. We will not only benefit from specific funding but also from a stronger and more vibrant city region.

"For the Borders specifically, this deal will enable us to maximise the delivery of affordable housing, stimulate private sector investment and support local jobs, and will be a further step towards ensuring that our young people can see a future for themselves within the Scottish Borders. Key to this is the promotion of inclusive growth.

"A focus for us will be driving forward the development of the Central Borders Business Park in Tweedbank."

David Ross, co-leader of Fife Council, said: "This deal is a step forward in creating more jobs in Fife, helping our residents access more employment opportunities, as well as increase housing availability, and unlock economic opportunity.

"The deal announced today falls short of what we were looking for to accelerate growth and ensure that the benefits of that growth are distributed more equally across the region, but it is a significant step in the right direction."

'Ambitious deal'

Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell said the deal would have a major economic impact on the region.

He said: "The UK government is investing £300m in the Edinburgh and South East of Scotland City Region Deal, which will boost the economy of Edinburgh and the whole of south east Scotland for decades to come.

"The Edinburgh deal will focus on the capital's strengths of new technology, innovation and culture. 

It will make a real difference to the lives of people in the region, creating jobs and prosperity and driving investment."

The Scottish government's economy secretary Keith Brown said: "I am very pleased that we have been able to get to the stage of achieving such an ambitious deal for the region.

"Edinburgh and its city region is an area of huge importance to the Scottish economy. It contains over a quarter of Scotland's population and contributes £33bn to the Scottish and UK economies."

He said the Scottish government would invest up to £25m in the region's workforce to reduce skills shortages and gaps and had committed £140m to transport projects, including £120m for improvements to the A720, Edinburgh City bypass and £20m for improvements at west Edinburgh. 

He also said the government would invest £65m in new housing.

"We will also be investing in innovation and that will focus on ensuring businesses and communities across the region can benefit from opportunities through world-class business infrastructure," he said.

'Fulfilling ambitions'

He added that the Scottish government recognised that festivals were a crucial part of the culture and economy of Scotland so it was also investing £10m towards a new concert venue.

"We will reinforce Edinburgh's reputation as a leading centre for music and the performing arts through investing in the proposed Impact project, working with existing philanthropic and commercial partners to deliver a new world-class performance venue in the heart of Edinburgh, and a new home for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra," he said.

"Taken together these projects will help the region continue to thrive and grow, fulfilling our ambitions for the region to be one of the fairest and most inclusive areas in the country."

Gordon Henderson, the Federation of Small Businesses senior development manager, said: "Two years of hard work by a great many local government staff and politicians, past and present, has gone into getting this deal signed - congratulations to them all.

"It is absolutely vital that business owners in Peebles, Bathgate, Glenrothes and Dunbar feel the benefit of the deal's huge spending power as much as those in central Edinburgh to ensure the regional economy as a whole benefits."

John Donnelly, chief executive of Marketing Edinburgh, said: "This is an incredibly important and exciting milestone for the city, the ambitious £1.1bn injection of funding will help extend our reputation as a global centre for culture, innovation and technology.

"There's no doubt that this deal will have a tremendously positive impact on the city's economy, it will enable us to remain competitive and reinforce our reputation as a world-class leader in arts, research and industry."

The regional bid involved six councils - City of Edinburgh, East Lothian, Fife, Midlothian, Scottish Borders and West Lothian.

It is the fourth UK City Deal in Scotland, following investments in Glasgow, Inverness, and Aberdeen.

Source: BBC News

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Consultation Launched on Proposals for Public Sector Socio-Economic Duty

In a UK first, public bodies in Scotland will be required to put reducing poverty and inequality at the heart of their decision making. 
The introduction of a socio-economic duty was included in the UK Government’s Equality Act 2010 – however, it was never implemented. The Scottish Government is now pressing ahead alone and is seeking views on how best to apply the duty across the public sector. The eight-week public consultation is now open and closes on 12 September.
Once implemented, it will mean bodies like councils and the NHS must consider what more they can do to reduce poverty and inequality, whenever they make major decisions. A consultation will ask which public bodies should be subject to the duty and what they need to do to demonstrate they are carrying it out.
Equalities Secretary Angela Constance launched the consultation while visiting the Star Project in Paisley, a community resilience and support programme that works in partnership with Renfrewshire Council to tackle poverty and deprivation.
Ms Constance said:
“Tackling inequalities will never be an optional extra for this government – it is core to everything we do. Implementing this duty, and requiring public bodies to put reducing inequalities at the heart of their decision making, is an important step. It further contributes to our actions on inclusive growth, ensuring increased economic prosperity goes hand in hand with a fairer, more equal country.
“Public bodies already do a huge amount to reduce inequalities, but with more than one in four children in poverty, we must all work together to do more and make a difference. The duty will further embed this into the DNA of public sector decision-making – including that of Scottish Ministers. It is not only the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do.
“Our action on inequalities is in stark contrast to the UK Government, who have refused to implement this requirement to reduce inequalities through decision making - all while scrapping child poverty targets. Instead we are  ensuring our public bodies listen to and respond to the views of communities, particularly those with direct experience of poverty.”
Renfrewshire Council Leader, Councillor Iain Nicolson, said:
“The STAR Project are one of Renfrewshire’s key partners, working towards our ambition that every child reaches their full potential, regardless of their background.
“We know the reasons behind poverty and deprivation are complex, which is why understanding local issues and providing opportunities that really support people and families, where and when they need it, continues to be vital for Renfrewshire.
“Acting locally in partnership with organisations like the STAR Project makes a real difference to the lives of many families and this supports parents and carers to ensure children feel healthy, happy and valued, no matter how much money is in a household.”
John Wilkes, Head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission in Scotland, added:
“For the first time public bodies will be required to set out how their plans will help in reducing poverty. In recent years the number of people living in poverty has shrunk, but poverty has become more concentrated in some communities.
“The new Socio Economic Duty will help by focussing on how major decisions like the type of housing we build, our transport strategies and investment plans can narrow the gaps in experience between the most and the least advantaged in Scottish society. 
“As regulator, we stand ready to ensure the Scottish Government make the most of this opportunity and will be pushing for similar moves by the government in Westminster.”
Background
The eight-week public consultation is now open and closes on 12 September.
The introduction of the duty is the next step in the Scottish Government’s implementation of equalities powers secured through the Scotland Act 2016. It follows the introduction of legislation to address the underrepresentation of women in public life.   
Introducing a socio-economic duty was the first of 50 measures set out in in the Fairer Scotland Action Plan, the Scottish Government’s vision for a fairer and more inclusive country, as well as a key recommendation by the Independent Advisor on Poverty and Inequality, Naomi Eisenstadt, in her Shifting the curve report.
 The Scottish Government has also introduced statutory targets for the reduction of child poverty – which were recently scrapped at a UK-level. Meanwhile, the three-year rolling funding commitment for the equalities budget gives third sector bodies much needed reassurance.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Business Development Initiative for Scotland's Screen Sector Launched

  • Initiative co-funded up to £750k by Creative Scotland, Scottish Enterprise, and participating businesses
  • Delivered by Film City Futures in partnership with the Scottish Documentary Institute
  • 20 screen companies in Scotland to benefit over 2-year pilot
FOCUS is a two-year pilot project that will provide expert sector-specific business support to screen production companies working in Scotland to encourage them to grow and expand.
The project has been developed to address current market conditions in the screen industry in Scotland. Many screen production businesses operating in Scotland are not of the scale where certain business development and support functions can be afforded in-house. This has had an impact on the ability on those businesses to grow, increase output, and remain sustainable.
FOCUS addresses this by providing subsidised access to specialist business development services. In the initial pilot phase, twenty participating screen companies will each work with a business development consultant to create a bespoke Business Development Strategy for their company, before moving on to access the sector-specific expertise identified in the strategy. Participating companies will contribute one third of the costs of the consultancy themselves, with the remaining costs covered by FOCUS, which is co-funded by Creative Scotland and Scottish Enterprise.
For screen companies, this will mean a rare opportunity to gain access to sought-after expertise in areas such as digital distribution, aggregation, financing, international co-production, and audience development.
Consultants will be matched to companies on a case-by-case basis, according to the needs identified.
FOCUS is delivered by Film City Futures in partnership with Scottish Documentary Institute. The project is managed by Business Development Manager Rebecca Thompson, who previously created film audience development and crowdfunding consultancy Hot Tap Media, and the film crowdfunding and distribution platform Social Screen. Business Development Executive Susie Wright previously worked as Nations and Regions Executive at Channel 4, and Development Producer at STV Productions and IWC Media.
Tiernan Kelly, Director, Film City Glasgow Ltd, says:
“FOCUS is a direct and considered response to the needs of indigenous screen production companies. The project will address the issues of scale and access to expertise that many of these companies face, and create a generation of ambitious, international facing screen businesses producing content from Scotland. The project presents clear evidence of industry collaboration with our enterprise and cultural agencies on a shared vision for the sector.”
Noe Mendelle, Director, Scottish Documentary Institute, says:
“I am delighted that documentary producers will have a unique opportunity to enhance and develop their business skills at a time when the success of new platforms is challenging the traditional funding route and requiring new strategies from producers.”
John Archer, Director, Hopscotch Films, and board member of Film City Futures, says:
“This innovative project brings together the skills and funding of both Creative Scotland and Scottish Enterprise with independent producers. With the new BBC Scottish channel 15 months or so away the timing of this great opportunity is brilliant.”
FOCUS is co-funded by Creative Scotland and Scottish Enterprise. Each organisation has allocated funding of £250,000 towards delivery of the project, with participating companies expected to contribute a further £250,000, creating a potential £750,000 of total project funding.
Natalie Usher, Director, Screen at Creative Scotland, says:
“We are proud to be supporting FOCUS, alongside our partner, Scottish Enterprise.  Providing such specialist business development support and advice to Scotland’s screen production companies will contribute significantly towards growth in the sector. FOCUS marks the next in a series of steps taken with the sector and agency partners, towards generating the conditions necessary to create a vibrant, culturally diverse and commercially-competitive screen sector in Scotland.”
David Smith, Sector Director of Digital and Engineering at Scottish Enterprise, says:
“We are very pleased that we have been able to develop this pilot project in partnership with Creative Scotland, Scotland’s lead screen agency, and screen industry members. This has resulted in an innovative approach which will connect screen production companies to sources of expert advice and support to help drive up levels of international trade and innovation to help companies achieve their full potential.”
FOCUS now seeks ambitious screen production companies in Scotland who wish to invest in their future success. Applications are now open on the Film City Futures website, where companies can find out more about the project, register to attend an information session in Glasgow or Edinburgh, and apply to be one of the first to benefit.
www.filmcityfutures.com
Applications close on 14th August 2017, with the first participants selected by the end of August.
For more information contact Rebecca Thompson, Business Development Manager, FOCUS: Rebecca.thompson@filmcityfutures.com, 07866 730612
-ENDS-

Monday, 17 July 2017

Scottish Enterprise Announces £11.7m for Aberdeen Harbour Expansion

The First Minister has welcomed news that Scottish Enterprise will contribute £11.7 million towards Aberdeen Harbour’s £350 million expansion, supporting the creation of 2,300 jobs by 2026.
The project, due to be completed in 2020, will provide enhanced facilities and capacity to the oil industry and help capitalise on Scotland’s growing cruise tourism and renewables markets.

SE funding is in addition to support from the European Investment Bank, which is providing a loan of up to £175 million, and support of up to £11 million from Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Councils via Aberdeen City Region Deal. 

Visiting the harbour today, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“Aberdeen Harbour is Scotland’s main oil and gas port and one of Europe’s leading marine support centres for offshore energy. This funding will open up significant opportunities to diversify and exploit the rapid growth in cruise tourism and the renewables markets in Scotland.

“We are already seeing Scottish-based firms seizing decommissioning opportunities, and we are committed to supporting Scottish industry to win further valuable contracts. That’s why we developed a Decommissioning Plan last year, and have since launched the £5 million Decommissioning Challenge Fund.”

Scottish Enterprise director of energy Maggie McGinlay said:

“The Aberdeen Harbour expansion project is strategically important to the growth of Scotland’s economy. A recent impact assessment study confirms the project will not only help sustain growth in the oil and gas sector, but will also help to maximise opportunities from the growing cruise tourism and renewables sectors.”

Chief Executive of Aberdeen Harbour Colin Parker said:

“This funding is immensely significant. It further demonstrates recognition of this strategic project as one of national and international importance. The facilities developed will transform the port’s ability to accommodate the trend for larger vessels we are witnessing across a whole range of industries, thereby encouraging commercial diversification and future-proofing the port’s ability to support large scale marine operations.”

FAI Blog - Today’s labour market statistics: back to 2008?

Reposted from the Fraser of Allander Institute blog

The unemployment rate among the working age population in Scotland fell to 3.9% in the three months from March to May, the lowest unemployment rate since comparable records began.
In headline terms, the Scottish labour market today looks broadly similar to the same quarter in 2008, as the UK was entering recession (although in 2008 the employment rate was slightly higher and inactivity rate slightly lower than it is today).
The proportion of the employed who work part-time is almost back at pre-recession levels (the part-time employed accounted for 25% of total employment in 2008, rising to 28% during the recession, but now back to 26%).
Working age labour market statistics, Scotland
 
Employment rate
Unemployment rate
Inactivity rate
March – May 2008
74.6
4.0
22.3
March – May 2017
74.1
3.9
22.9
But underneath these headline figures, substantial changes in the composition of the Scottish labour market are observed.
The employed are more likely to be older now than eight years ago, reflecting demographic change but more particularly changes in employment rates by age group. Since 2008 the employment rate of 18-24s has fallen from 66.6% to 64.5% (reflecting in part greater participation in further and higher education), whilst it has increased from 65.0% to 68.4% among those aged 50-64 (reflecting the increasing State Pension age for women, but also a general trend towards longer lifetime working).
Labour market outcomes have improved for women but deteriorated among men. Male employment has fallen from 79.5% to 77.7%, whilst inactivity has increased (from 17.0%-18.8%) and unemployment has increased marginally (from 4.2% to 4.3%). Female employment has increased (from 70.0%-70.6%) whilst both unemployment and inactivity falling.
The number of people classified as self-employed is now at 326,000, close to a record high. Much media attention has rightly focussed on the recent growth in self-employment, and the implications for employment rights and tax treatment of the self-employed. But it is worth remembering that self-employment still only accounts for around 12.5% of total employment in Scotland. We should also avoid thinking that the increase in self-employment can be completely accounted for by the rise of new technological platforms in the ‘gig economy’ (Uber, Deliveroo, etc.). In fact, the rise in self-employment is fairly ubiquitous across sectors, and often reflects the decisions of employees in professional occupations to become self-employed in order to achieve greater flexibility in the way they work, often as a way of managing the transition from employment to retirement. And a large proportion of self-employment is still accounted for by agriculture, construction, and trades.
We don’t yet have comprehensive wage data for Scotland in 2017, but by 2016, wages in Scotland remained 3% in real terms lower than they were in 2008.
The continuing weakness of wage growth, despite the low and falling unemployment rate, has been a source of puzzlement to economists in recent years. Low inflation is one contributory factor, and it is also clear that the unemployment rate itself doesn’t tell the whole story in terms of labour-market slack (the economically inactive include individuals who would like to work, but who do not count as technically unemployed because they are not actively seeking work or available for work at a given point in time). More general explanations include technological change, a weakening of labour market regulation and trade union coverage, and a less generous welfare system, which combine to increase labour supply and weaken workers’ bargaining power relative to employers, keeping wage growth in check for a given level of unemployment. It is in this context that yesterday’s Taylor Review into employment practices is important (although whether the review goes far enough is another question).
So although the Scottish labour market on one level looks similar now to it did on the eve of the recession, the nature of work and how it is distributed has been changing. Rising inflation, the uncertain implications of the Brexit negotiations, and real terms increases in the National Living Wage will undoubtedly influence future trends in unemployment and wage growth, but in precisely what way remains unclear.
In a future FAI blog, we will consider how employment has changed by occupation and industry since the recession.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Elgin Business Park Set to Go Ahead

Elgin Business Park Limited (EBPL), controlled by the owners of Springfield Properties Plc, has secured a £1.9 million investment from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

The HIE funding will go towards the £6.8 million cost of creating the infrastructure to enable the first phase of the development to begin at Barmuckity Farm, on the east side of Elgin.

Phase one will involve developing a 66-acre section of the full 125 acre site. Development of the full site will support an estimated 32 full time equivalent jobs in the construction industry.
It is anticipated that Elgin Business Park will have a variety of uses including industrial, office, warehousing, hospitality and retail premises. It is expected to take around seven years to complete and will ultimately create hundreds of jobs.

Elgin is the administrative and commercial centre for Moray. It is an important hub for the coastal towns of Lossiemouth, Hopeman, Burghead and Buckie as well as inland settlements including Keith, Rothes, Aberlour and surrounding rural areas.

The desire for a business park in the town has been a constant for the past 15 years. It has featured in both the Moray 2020 strategy (2005) and the more recent Moray Economic Strategy (2012). 

David Oxley, HIE’s acting director of business and sector development, said:

“This is great news for Moray and the realisation of a long-standing aspiration.

“This development will allow indigenous businesses to grow and inward investors to locate in Moray. It will create jobs and retain skills and help Moray become more diverse, competitive and resilient.

“We are very pleased to see this private sector led development reach this stage and delighted to be able to confirm our support.”

Springfield Chairman Sandy Adam who is involved in the project said:

“We are very pleased to be working alongside Highlands and Islands Enterprise in this project whose investment will allow us to deliver Moray Council’s economic vision for the area.

“We are already in advanced discussions with a number of existing Moray businesses who are keen to grow their business but have been restricted due to the lack of land available. 
This will allow them to plan for the future and this can only be seen as a benefit for the region in terms of economic and employment growth. We anticipate being on site within the next few months with the first occupiers being on site in 2018.”

Councillor John Cowe, Chair of Moray Council’s Economic Development and Infrastructure committee, and of the Moray Economic Partnership, said:

“This is the trigger we have been hoping for to get this project going, and I’m delighted that HIE have made it happen.

“As members of the Moray Economic Partnership we are all pushing in a number of directions to improve the local economy, but Barmuckity is a big part of our agenda in this regard.

“With the adjacent £86 million Elgin Flood Alleviation scheme now complete and thoroughly tested, businesses can have renewed confidence in locating their operations within this new development.”

Elgin Business Park will complement the Enterprise Park Forres, 14 miles to the west, which is targeted at knowledge based companies in the life sciences, business services and engineering sectors.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Scottish Unemployment Rate Hits 25-year Low

BBC - Scotland's unemployment rate has fallen to a 25-year low, according to official figures.

The jobless rate fell to 3.8% in the period March to May, having stood at 4.5% in the previous quarter.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) confirmed it was Scotland's lowest rate since comparable records began in 1992.

Over the quarter, unemployment fell by 19,000 to 104,000, while the number of people in work increased by 25,000.

Over the same period, the UK unemployment rate fell by 0.2 percentage points to 4.5%, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The number out of work across the UK stood at 1.49 million, 64,000 fewer than for the preceding three months.

There was a slight fall on the previous quarter in the economic inactivity rate for Scots between the ages 16 and 64.

However, the rate of 22.9% was 1.2% higher than the equivalent period last year.
Those counted as economically inactive include people who are neither in work nor available for work.

'Resilient jobs market'

Economy Secretary Keith Brown said: "These latest figures show our labour market remains resilient and robust with unemployment now at a record low.

"Our employment rate is also rising, which is good news, and means 25,000 more people are in employment compared to the last quarter.

"When considered alongside the fact that last week's GDP stats show Scotland's growth rate over the last quarter to be four times that of the UK, this is further evidence of the strength of the Scottish economy."

Scottish Conservative economy spokesman Dean Lockhart described the latest statistics as "encouraging".

He said: "It shows that Scottish businesses have been resilient to any challenges thrown up by Brexit, and continue to perform well.

"It also exposes the SNP's scaremongering on the UK's decision to leave the EU.

"However, we cannot escape the fact that much of this fall in unemployment can be attributed to a rise in those who are now economically inactive."

Scottish Labour's economy spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said: "It is welcome to see some progress in the Scottish labour market, but there is no room for complacency from this nationalist government.

"Having a year-on-year increase of 40,000 people being economically inactive is deeply troubling."

'Continuing challenge'

Business leaders reacted cautiously to the figures.

Scottish Chambers of Commerce chief executive Liz Cameron said: "It is extremely welcome that Scotland's unemployment rate has fallen to just 3.8% in the three months to May.

"Whilst this is an outstanding achievement and compares very favourably to the rate of 4.5% across the UK as a whole, it is worth taking a look at some of the numbers behind the headline figure.

"Compared to this time last year, there are now 6,000 fewer people in employment in Scotland; whilst 65,000 more people are economically inactive.

"These numbers highlight the continuing challenge facing the Scottish economy at a time when businesses are seeking staff with the right skills to help them to succeed and grow."

Colin Borland, from the Federation of Small Businesses, said: "Unemployment in Scotland is now very low indeed. Overall this is great news for firms and families.

"However some Scottish businesses are also reporting rising skills and labour shortages.

"Therefore - as Brexit negotiations continue - it is even more important that no matter when they arrived, European nationals who work for or run businesses in Scotland must be allowed to stay."


Source: BBC News

Annual Review of Skills Development in Scotland Published

SDS - Scotland’s national skills agency funded nearly 64,500 skills and learning opportunities during the past year.

Skills Development Scotland (SDS) also supported the creation or safeguarding of more than 30,000 Scottish jobs. 

The national skills agency works with employers to make sure they have the right skills at the right time, and individuals to ensure they can have successful careers. 

SDS provides Scotland’s careers service, supporting people at any age or stage in their career. 

Last year SDS provided careers information, advice and guidance to 248,715 people, through over half a million face-to-face engagements. 

SDS extended its careers service in schools, inspiring young people at an earlier stage, helping them to develop career management skills, make informed choices and better prepare for the changing world of work. 

SDS continued to build on the success of re-launched careers advice and information web service My World of Work with further teacher resources to support career education in the classroom from as early as P5. 

Watchdog Education Scotland reviewed SDS careers services across five local authorities last year, with all elements being rated good, very good or excellent, continuing a consistently high performance record. 

More young people experienced My World of Work Live! – SDS’s award-winning interactive exhibits and activities designed to inspire young people’s interest in careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) – at sites in Glasgow, Inverness, and Shetland. 

The skills agency also funds and promotes apprenticeships. 

SDS worked with employers to support a record 26,262 apprenticeship starts last year, with more than three quarters of those going to 16 to 24-year-olds. 

Foundation Apprenticeships for school pupils were taken up by 351 young people in the past year, while up to 379 people will be able to benefit from work-based learning through new Graduate Level Apprenticeships. 

Website www.apprenticehips.scot helped more businesses to recruit apprentices and more young people to find opportunities, with 27,581 applications made to 5,395 apprenticeship jobs. 

SDS provides direct support to employers across the country, responding to 4661 employer enquiries in 2016/17. 

Last year SDS also continued to support the targeted partnership approach to job-losses adopted through six Scottish Government Taskforces, and delivered Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE) services to 299 employers and to their employees affected by redundancy. 

The Transition Training Fund was introduced to support people affected by the downturn in oil and gas. More than 1900 people successfully applied to the fund for help to retrain, improve their skills or get accreditation that would help them get a new job. 

In the year ahead SDS will continue to expand apprenticeships with up to 1900 Foundation Apprenticeships for pupils and 27,000 employed apprentice places. 

New targeted initiative, Next Steps, will also be introduced across all SDS careers centres this year. 

 Next Steps offers intensive support for young people aged 16 to 18-years-old who have not yet achieved a positive destination, and for care experienced young people up to the age of 26. 

Skills Development Scotland Chair, John McClelland, said: “We have worked hard to drive an industry-led, work based approach to skills development, and deepened our engagement with industry, employers and education to develop a more comprehensive evidence base to inform our skills planning. 

“We look forward to collaborating more intensively with our partners as we seek to improve the skills landscape, creating a simpler and more coherent system of support for businesses and individuals.” 

The SDS Annual Review is available here


Friday, 7 July 2017

Scottish Enterprise Chief Executive Lena Wilson to Step Down

Scottish Enterprise has confirmed that its Chief Executive Lena Wilson is to step down after nearly eight years in the job.  Ms Wilson told the organisation’s employees of her decision this morning.

She said:  “It has been a real honour and privilege to work with so many talented people who want to make a positive difference for Scotland, but it is now time for me to embark on a fresh set of challenges.”

SE Chairman Bob Keiller said: “Lena has done an outstanding job as CEO, driving a much more international mindset across the whole organisation and overseeing record levels of innovation and growth among the companies SE works with as a result.

“I would like to thank her for her leadership and her service over many years.”

He added: “A plan to appoint a successor is being developed and details of this will be released in due course.”


Wednesday, 5 July 2017

HIE Chair Professor Lorne Crerar Reappointed

Professor Lorne Crerar has been reappointed Chair of the Board of HIE until February 2020.

Professor Crerar was recently appointed Chair of the Implementation Board which will lay the groundwork for the new Strategic Board to be established in the autumn to co-ordinate the work of Scotland’s enterprise and skills agencies. 

He will also co-chair the new National Council of Rural Advisers.

Professor Crerar originally joined the Board of HIE in April 2008.  He was appointed Chair in 2012.

Announcing the reappointment, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity, Fergus Ewing MSP, said:

“I am delighted that Lorne has been re-appointed to the Board of Highlands and Islands Enterprise.  Lorne did a fantastic job in his previous term as Chair and his re-appointment will provide consistency and continuity to the Board of Highlands and Islands Enterprise.  I wish Lorne well and I am looking forward to working with him again.”

Professor Crerar is a founding partner and Chairman of Scottish commercial law firm Harper Macleod LLP.  He held Chair of Banking Law at Glasgow University from 1997 until his retirement in 2015 and is now Emeritus Professor of Banking Law at the university.  

He was formerly Deputy Chairman of Scottish Enterprise Glasgow and was one of three Chairmen of the Housing Improvement Task Force.  Professor Crerar was appointed as Convener of the Standards Commission in 2003 and remained there until 2006, when he took up the role as Chair of the 

Independent Review of Regulation, Audit, Inspection and Complaints Handling of Public Services in Scotland, which reported in September 2007.  

He was also a non-executive Director of the Scottish Government Justice Programme Board until November 2010.

Professor Crerar’s working time is divided between the Highlands and Islands, where he has a home in Wester Ross, and Glasgow, where his business is headquartered.

He is interested in most sports and is currently the Chairman of Discipline for the Scottish Rugby Union, 6 Nations and European Rugby Cup.  He was involved as a Judicial Officer for the Rugby World Cup 2015.

Source: HIE