Enterprise and Skills Review: report on Phase 1

Outlines Scottish Ministers' decisions to achieve stronger governance across a coherent enterprise and skills system.

An Open and International Economy

Vision:We want an enterprise and skills system that works as one both in Scotland and internationally, that inspires, enables and supports Scotland's businesses to trade internationally, and that engages individuals, businesses and institutions to invest in Scotland. One system that promotes a global mindset, raises international ambition, and works with and for the private, academic and public sectors to maximise the impact of individual action and of Scotland's collective endeavour.

  • Guiding principles: Our actions in this area are based on the wide range of experience and expertise which the review has drawn upon, including:
  • an existing internationalisation agenda which improves understanding of international opportunities and increases our appetite and ability to seize them; enhances our ability to influence the world around us; and raises Scotland's profile and reputation;
  • an approach that builds on Global Scotland, Scotland's Trade and Investment Strategy for 2016-21;
  • a One Scotland approach so that working together across the public, private and academic sectors and among individuals and businesses is the norm; and
  • agility in our response to international opportunities and circumstances.

Current strengths and successes: Work across the public, private and academic sectors already provides a strong foundation for achieving our vision:

  • between 2010 and 2014 international exports increased by £4.0 billion (17.3%) from £23.4 billion to £27.5 billion;
  • total food and drink manufacturing exports increased by £3.4 billion (63%) from £5.4 billion to £8.8 billion between 2002 and 2014;
  • the 2016 EY Scotland Attractiveness Survey ranks Scotland as the top location for inward investment in the UK outside of London;
  • Scotland is now the top UK region for R&D inward investment, with 2015 a record year in attracting 23 individual projects, up from 17 in 2014;
  • SDI's support to Scottish companies has increased from 1,380 companies in 2011-12 to 2,607 companies in 2015-16; and
  • Scotland's universities attracted over 50,000 EU and international students in 2014/15. They have agreements with other universities across the world; have established or are developing campuses in places from Malaysia to Dubai to South Korea; and are internationally renowned for their research and academic excellence.

Challenges and opportunities: Our existing strengths and successes, and the agenda for internationalisation set out in our Trade and Investment Strategy, provide a strong platform for the future. However, Scotland's long-term economic performance depends on greater success in international markets and in continuing to attract stronger investment. The outcome of the EU Referendum puts this at significant risk

In this context, the review identified:

  • the need for a more concerted and better co-ordinated effort across the enterprise and skills system and beyond to ensure that our collective international activity, and not just that focused directly on trade and investment, delivers maximum benefit for Scotland;
  • a need to improve understanding of SDI's responsibilities and governance;
  • the need to embrace digital as a key means of accessing international opportunities and to provide and join up services in Scotland and internationally; and
  • the scope and opportunity to make even more of Scotland's wide range of international assets and strengths, including the SDI network; the expertise and reach of VisitScotland; the development of innovation and investment Hubs in London, Dublin, Brussels and Berlin; networks such as Connected Scotland and Global Scots; and our universities' global reputation, teaching and research reach.

Action: In order to bring greater coherence as we step up the pace of delivery of our Trade and Investment Strategy through activity such as the establishment of a new Board of Trade, the appointment of Trade Envoys, the establishment of an Innovation and Investment Hub in Berlin, and the doubling of SDI's presence across Europe:

  • We will ensure a much stronger focus on co-ordinating international activity across the public and academic sectors to deliver maximum benefit for Scotland.
  • We will consider the role, position and governance of SDI and its possible establishment as a distinct and separate organisation under the new Scotland-wide statutory board delivering a broader range of international activities and support.


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