Publication - Minutes

Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board minutes: May 2021

Published: 7 Jun 2021
Date of meeting: 26 May 2021
Date of next meeting: 5 Aug 2021

Minutes of the Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board's meeting held on 26 May 2021.

Published:
7 Jun 2021
Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board minutes: May 2021

Attendees and apologies

Members

  • Nora Senior (Chair) 
  • Scott McLarty (Vice Chair)
  • Steven Heddle 
  • Sara Carter 
  • Audrey Cumberford 
  • Grahame Smith
  • Melinda Matthews-Clarkson
  • Gillian Murray
  • Caroline Barelle
  • Alison Milne
  • Simon Cotton
  • Frank Mitchell (SDS)
  • Lord Smith (SE)
  • Mike Cantlay (SFC)
  • Prof Russell Griggs (Sose)
  • Alistair Dodds (HIE)

Other attendees

  • Charlotte Wright (HIE)
  • Jane Morrison-Ross (Sose) 
  • Linda Hanna (SE) 
  • Damien Yeates (SDS)
  • Karen Watt (SFC)
  • Liz Ditchburn (SG)
  • Richard Rollison (SG)
  • Stephen Boyle
  • Keith Winters (LA) 
  • Stuart King (AU) 
  • Richard Murray (AU/Sec) 
  • Julie Wilson (Sec) 
  • Natalie Stevenson (Sec)

Apologies

  • Gary Gillespie (SG)
  • Mary McAllan 
  • Stephen Pathirana
  • Katherine Peskett
  • Liz Cameron

Items and actions

Welcome and minutes from previous meeting

The chair welcomed everyone to the May board meeting and introduced:

  • James Russell, SDS (who would be supporting Grahame Smith with agenda item 4)

The Chair welcomed everyone to the call and asked the Board to agree the previous minutes with a request for any comments to be made via correspondence to the Secretariat.

There were no conflicts of interest.

Actions: the action points from the previous meeting were discussed & an update on progress is below:

Action

Description

Theme

Lead(s)

Update (RAG rated)

ESSB March 21 (01)

 

An offer from Karen Watt (SFC) to provide a brief offline on innovation centres and the progress being made to align Universities and Colleges through the SFC review.

 

Skills Alignment/SFC Review

Karen Watt

A meeting will be set up with a smaller focus group of business members in line with the SFC Review Timelines.

ESSB March 21 (02)

SFC will be conducting broader engagement with the board as part of the SFC review.

Skills Alignment/SFC Review

Karen Watt

As above.

Item one – introduction from the chair

The Chair thanked members for joining the meeting and outlined the agenda for the day. She re-emphasised the emerging themes from the Strategy Day discussions and highlighted the paper developed by the secretariat. The themes for the board to take forward will include:

  1. Continuing to strengthen the Board’s links with interlinked Stakeholders to create a whole systems approach: including the board’s engagement with Industry Leadership Groups, the business representation within the board, local authorities’ representation from Keith and Steven Heddle, which will build on the work undertaken by the agencies and board members to date and create greater alignment to enable businesses and learners to access the right support.
  2. Continuing to support businesses with the exit from the EU and the economic response to the pandemic: including the board supporting the Scottish Government and agencies on the specific challenges faced by businesses, by utilising the expertise from the business Board members, their networks and the ILGs to help identify key gaps in support. The Chair asked that Grahame and Scott continue to lead on Business Models and Workplace Innovation (BMWI) for the board, with the agencies leading on business support and interventions and regular reporting to the board on progress. The Board will look for early opportunity to get clarity on SG focus going forward and dedicated agency budget/activity targets etc.
  3. Innovation: A review of the innovation funding landscape which will develop options for how this could be decluttered in the future and the investment best aligned to support the recovery. The Analytical Unit has held a series of workshops with the Board and a draft paper will be discussed with the Board at today’s meeting. The Annual Analysis highlighted close correlation between innovation investment and high growth companies.
  4. Skills alignment: An implementation plan of the skills alignment programme is being taken forward by the Skills Alignment Assurance Group and progress of this will be updated to the board later in the year. Additionally Grahame Smith is leading on a review of the Careers Service.

Scottish Government post-election update

The Chair updated members on the Board’s plans for greater Ministerial engagement in the lead up to the refresh of the Strategic Plan later in the year. This would include the newly appointed Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Economy, Kate Forbes, who the board will now report to and continued engagement with Ivan McKee whose portfolio has expanded to Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise, and will also include close links with the new Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, Shirley-Anne Somerville.

Richard Rollison, Director for International Trade and Investment, provided a short update on the post-election landscape but advised that this was still very much in the early stages and he would look to provide a further update to the board once there was more clarity. He highlighted that Ministers were keen to continue to collaborate across Government and the wider system, which was in line with the action orientated approach exhibited through the COVID response in the last year. He outlined the Government’s Strong focus on the 100 day Manifesto Commitment and the intent to step up business engagement after a challenging year. Regarding trade and investment, he said it would be a case of getting on and delivering existing plans including the planned refresh of ‘A Trading Nation’.

Action 01

SG Director to update the board on the developments of the 10 year National Strategy for Economic Transformation, given the clear links this will have to the refresh of the Board’s Strategic Plan. Update to be given on plans to create an Economic Advisory Council.

SFC Review Update

Karen Watt provided the routine update to the board on the SFC review. The review will be published at the end of June 2021. Karen and Scott McLarty (Vice Chair) will lead a smaller focussed session with the business board members to precede the final report. This will trial a new outcome and impact framework, look at funding and investment models, short-term stability but signalling longer term direction, protecting interests of students, research and innovation. It will be a mission-based approach while retaining research excellence, with regional focus on provision planning. A major theme would be "Place in the world" reflecting the reliance on overseas students and sustainability.

Item two – innovation

Richard Murray, Analytical Unit

The Chair introduced the item and outlined that the board had undertaken a high-level review of the innovation landscape at the request of Ivan McKee, the then Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation, which aimed to de-cluttered the innovation landscape. The Analytical Unit, working closely with Stephen Boyle and Mark Graham (contractor for the Analytical Unit), drew together existing evidence and identified potential short and longer-term options. This material was then explored further with external Board members through two workshops.

Richard Murray summarised the outputs of two sub group workshops and set out draft recommendations from the review for the board to consider. These short and long term recommendations for action were grouped around the key themes which emerged from the review. 

Richard highlighted that there currently was not a team dedicated to innovation within SG due to staff being redirected to support the effects of Covid.

The item was opened up for discussion with the following points being raised:

  • the paper was welcomed by the board as a way forward to decluttering a complicated landscape and helping businesses navigate and access appropriate funding. It was also recognised that there is too much bureaucracy around this area which can be off putting for business so must there was a need to be bold about simplifying this landscape
  • it was noted that the paper missed the interaction between academics and businesses
  • the report should look to make the process of engagement more accessible, particularly for SMEs
  • it was agreed that there is a real opportunity for greater correlation between innovation and skills planning
  • a point was raised on the conflict between recommendations 3 and 6 on accessibility and flexibility and how to rationalise funding if impact measurement is difficult
  • targeted support against 'universal' support through tax credits/business rates, for example; and the need to consider innovation and workplace innovation/skills together
  • there was general consensus on innovation not necessarily being about ‘the money’ but "the how" of linkages between institutions and businesses. A need to identify the right support in terms of connectivity and advice to get from innovation to commercialisation
  • amalgamating funds may be more complex than appears for legal reasons
  • the Chair asked that the Analytical Unit lead on a piece of work to update the programme map liaising with the enterprise agencies.This work also to include further discussion on identifying merging of programmes/funds
  • the SFC review was seen as a way to support some of the strands of innovation work
  • it was recognised that there needs to be room to tailor to different regional needs. There was an offer from HIE to support this work with case studies

The Chair summarised the session stating the need for an over-riding innovation strategy with mission-led themes and asked who might take forward that work - an existing agency, Government or new Innovation agency. She highlighted the importance of working quickly with the enterprise agencies to up-date the mapping and to identify additional opportunities on merging funds to declutter the landscape. On the knowledge transfer, she asked if this could be tightened up and capture benefits. 

Action 02

The Analytical Unit to work closely with agencies to (a) update the mapping to reflect work already undertake to streamline business support for innovation, (b) identify further opportunities not captured in the paper.

Item three – strategic plan refresh

Julie Wilson, secretariat

The chair introduced the item. She emphasised the importance of the refresh of the Strategic Plan reading across agency business plans; as well as the Programme for Government and the Economic Strategy to be published later this year. She highlighted the importance of agencies feeling part of crafting the themes within the Strategic Plan refresh.

Julie Wilson updated members on the timeline for the refresh of the Strategic Plan which she shared with members in advance of the meeting, with the aim to publish the plan in November after the Economic Strategy. She outlined the first draft would be expected to be received by the board for the August meeting. The plan would then feed into the Programme for Government in September and the Economic Strategy as it develops. She informed the board that all members would have the opportunity to see the progression of the Strategy and any drafts will be put through the board for approval. Brexit, agri-rural, digital and net zero will feature as an important context. In line with this work a comms & engagement plan will be taken forward by the board’s comms working group, including regular engagement with Ministers, promotion of the board’s work on social media and engagement with wider stakeholders including ILGs, business communities and local authorities. 

The item was opened up for discussion with the following points being raised:

  • the process for refreshing the Strategic Plan was approved by the board with board members agreeing it would be an opportunity to create better alignment across the agency and government design planning
  • board members to join any of the core or themed meetings
  • the Chair requested that the Analytical Unit produce a combined timeline to cover the production of the Economic Strategy and the Programme for Government, as well as agency plans. (The secretariat will update the board shortly with a paper when there is more information about the Economic Strategy process and the likely content)
  • a question was raised about the progress of the exporting mission and if the board was satisfied to hand this mission over to ‘A Trading Nation’. The Chair highlighted as a board that members had agreed to move exporting into business as usual and that the focus would be on business support and enabling businesses to participate in the exporting strategy. Richard Rollison also informed the board that his team are leading on this work and are currently stress testing the actions contained within it for Covid and Brexit and would welcome the boards support in this work

The Vice Chair summarised the fundamental principle of the board was to look for opportunities for the agencies to collaborate and streamline processes in order to not add any additional work but complement the work taking place. This would include strengthening links in Letters of Guidance and having one simplified agenda around strategic focus. Keith Winter added from a local authority position that there has been a lot of collaboration around the new SE strategy and the SG Economic Strategy. He emphasised the importance of getting timelines correct and knowing who influences and determines what priorities.

Action 03

Richard Rollison to report back to the board on any update to “A Trading Nation”.

Action 04

Secretariat to converse with the SPJWG on the agency business planning process to ensure this aligns to the commitments within the refresh of the Strategic Plan. Secretariat to produce a combined planning/production timeline.

Action 05

Secretariat to circulate a paper to board members to provide an update on the progress of the Economic Strategy of Transformation and the Advisory Council.

Item four – career service review

Grahame Smith, board member

Grahame Smith explained that the review would be system wide and is being conducted independently not by SDS. He said he would be keen to have an ongoing dialogue with the board and would be happy to host a smaller group of the board at a later date. 

The item was opened up for discussion with the following points being raised:

  • the review was welcomed by the board and was seen as a way to support the recommendations from the boards sub group on mitigating the labour market last year
  • the Board welcomed an all age service which would support the upskilling and reskilling of workers
  • it was commented that the current service is based on a one size approach and that there was misalignment between individual demands and future needs. A question was raised on measures for the careers service including getting people into specific sectors.
  • a piece of work was highlighted with a local authority to identify multiple routes into science related jobs - to avoid the perception that only BSc and above degrees can carve out a career
  • the importance of starting careers interventions at a young age was highlighted and to ensure choices with a demand driven system with feedback from participants to gain understanding. The future focus was highlighted as critical and to look at examples where industry has had to evolve and note lessons learned

Grahame thanked members for their input. He advised that the careers service offers impartial advice and that individuals can be influenced on what they know to be on offer but that this might not be attractive. Frank Mitchell summarised that we need to look across the ecosystem to come together and maximise what we have. He highlighted that with only 1 Careers Advisor per school, unfortunately there is a need to prioritise high risk students. Grahame advised they would look to publish evidence as they go through the review and look to conclude at the end of the year.

Item five – reflections and close

Chair

The Chair thanked members for their participation and closed the meeting.

Next meeting

5 August 2021

Actions

Action

Description

Lead(s)

Deadline

ESSB May 21 (01)  

SG Director to update the board on the developments of the 10 year National Strategy for Economic Transformation, given the clear links this will have to the refresh of the Board’s Strategic Plan. Update to be given on  plans to create an Economic Advisory Council.

SG Director

Next Board (Aug 2021)

ESSB May 21 (02) 

The Analytical Unit to work closely with agencies to  (a) update the mapping to reflect work already undertake to streamline business support for innovation, (b) identify further opportunities not captured in the paper.

Analytical Unit

Next Board (Aug 2021)

ESSB May 21 (03)

Richard Rollison to report back to the board on any update to “A Trading Nation”.

Richard Rollison

Either the next Board (Aug 2021) or between Board meetings

ESSB May 21 (04) 

Secretariat to converse with the SPJWG on the agency business planning process to ensure this aligns to the commitments within the refresh of the Strategic Plan. Secretariat to produce a combined planning/production timeline

Secretariat

Before the next Board (Aug 2021)

ESSB May 21 (05) 

Secretariat to circulate a paper to board members to provide an update on the progress of the Economic Strategy of Transformation and the Advisory Council.

Secretariat

Next Board (Aug 2021)