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Shared vision to drive Scottish business forward

Published: 3 Sep 2015 19:45

First Minister addresses CBI Scotland

A shared vision to drive forward business and build a more productive, innovative and fairer Scotland is key to success. Increasing productivity makes our economy even more competitive, which in turn brings benefits to individuals and communities across the whole of the country.

Addressing CBI Scotland annual dinner for the first time the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will say:

"This Government has a record to be proud of. We have higher employment than the rest of the UK; Scotland's economy is has performing strongly – we've now seen 11 consecutive quarters of growth for the first time since 2001. The total number of registered businesses in Scotland is also currently at a record level.

"However to maintain this requires concerted action across all areas of our economy - and indeed across society - to achieve this. That's why we want to build a partnership for productivity with businesses, the third sector, the wider public sector and trade unions.

"We are determined to focus on the four pillars of our economic strategy - investment in people and infrastructure, innovation, internationalisation and inclusive growth.

"Small and medium-sized businesses are not only the backbone of the Scottish economy, but are essential to delivering our ambition for Scotland to become the real Northern powerhouse, the UK location of choice for businesses looking to locate, expand or invest.

"In order to do this we're building on the approach we've adopted since 2007 - when our very first actions steps included action on skills, and the establishment of the most business-friendly local taxation system anywhere in the UK. And we're working with business to meet some very specific challenges. Codeclan, Scotland's digital skills academy, opens this month. It's been led by industry, with support from the Scottish Government, and will focus initially on training software engineers. It recognises that expertise in digital technology is essential across all parts of the economy.

Speaking on international activity Ms Sturgeon said:

"We will intensify our support for internationalisation. The value of our international exports increased by 20 per cent in the three years from 2010. A new trade and investment strategy, published later this year, will set out how we build on that success. Our global profile is higher than it has been for generations.

"As I set out earlier this week in my Programme for Government we will establish new Innovation and Investment Hubs. They will be up and running by summer next year and provide places for government, our agencies and public partners and the private sector, to make international connections that will boost exports and inward investment, promote the research and innovation excellence of our businesses and universities and enhance international collaboration.

"When the CBI was founded one of its key aims was that Britain should join the Common Market. The decades since have justified that stance. Scottish businesses benefit greatly from access to the European market – exports to Europe support 330,000 jobs. And we all benefit from the freedom to travel, work and study within the EU, and from the fact that 170,000 EU citizens have chosen to live in Scotland. That doesn't mean we see the EU as perfect – we have consistently made a constructive case for reform. But we want to work to improve the EU, rather than arguing argue to leave it.

"We want to build on the partnerships of the future."