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Delivering an economic vision for Scotland

Published: 4 Mar 2016 09:41
Part of:

Scotland’s Economic Strategy one year on.

Employment in Scotland has risen to a record level of more than 2.63 million, providing a boost to the economy in the first year of Scotland's Economic Strategy.

The document, published in March last year, sets out the Scottish Government's ambition to see Scotland match the productivity levels of the strongest performing advanced economies, through focusing on investment, innovation, internationalisation and inclusive growth.

Speaking at a conference of public and private sector leaders in North Ayrshire, Deputy First Minister John Swinney outlined the priorities that underpin the strategy and pointed to the recent progress made in Scotland's economy.

This includes:

  • Scotland's economy has grown continuously for the last three years and has narrowed the productivity gap within the UK
  • The employment level in Scotland is now at its highest on record and Scotland's employment rate remains higher than in the UK as a whole
  • Scotland has a higher female employment rate than the UK, and youth employment level has increased by 19,000 over the year to reach 368,000, its highest October-December level since 2006
  • Fifteen months ago there were 78 accredited living wage employers in Scotland – now there are almost 500.
  • More than 230 companies have signed up to the Business Pledge since its inception in May 2015
  • Announcement of additional investment aimed at raising attainment and closing gaps in attainment - doubling the funding to the Attainment Scotland Fund – to a total of £160m over the next three years.

Speaking ahead of the event in West Kilbride, Mr Swinney said:

"I believe that the Economic Strategy sets out the right direction of travel and demonstrates our ambition to boost inclusive economic growth and raise productivity in Scotland.

"One year on from the launch of the strategy, I remain committed to working with all of our partners to make further progress, but it is important to note that significant progress has already been made in recent years.

"Our economy continues to grow, and there is evidence that Scotland has improved its productivity relative to the UK as a whole, and our employment record continues to improve.

"But we cannot stand still. We need to keep building on this success by maintaining a focus on the importance of education and attainment, of opportunity, high value jobs and fair work. Scotland's economic success will go hand in hand with tackling inequalities in our society to ensure prosperity is shared more equally.

"It is also heartening to see that regions such as North Ayrshire are matching the ambition of the national economic strategy.

"The approach adopted here in North Ayrshire has brought renewed focus to the local economy – helping to drive recent improvements in the regional labour market, and there is further scope to build on this momentum."

North Ayrshire Council leader Willie Gibson said:

"There's been a lot of significant developments in North Ayrshire over the last two years, with over £150million investment in the local economy.

"There's been recent investment into the hospitality, food and drink sector, and I am delighted to welcome you to one of the newest investments in North Ayrshire – The Waterside Hotel, part of the family run SimpsInns group. Our major engineering companies have also made considerable expansion plans to their businesses.

"Local business Ardagh Group celebrated a £15million investment at its Irvine plant and Sigma Aldrich has merged with the German life sciences company Merck, and recently completed an expansion of its Irvine facility.

"We are also investing in our children's future by making connections with further education and business to ensure our young people can get into work and contribute to the local economy."

Notes to editors

View Scotland's Economic Strategy at