Enterprise and Skills Review: report on Phase 1

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

Phase 2: Implementation, Next Steps and Front-line Support

Phase 1 Implementation

In phase 2 we will undertake the implementation of our phase 1 decisions. This will include working with the agencies and other partners to strengthen our enterprise and skills system by:

  • consulting on the strategic board, the best distribution of functions between the agencies underneath it, and the associated legislative requirements;
  • taking forward plans for the development of a common analytical approach;
  • developing a number of common targets aligned with Scotland's National Performance Framework and Economic Strategy to help measure performance;
  • exploring how best to create the new vehicle to meet the needs of the South of Scotland, including clarifying its boundaries and the locally-based support it will deliver; and
  • taking forward our decisions across internationalisation, innovation and the learning journey.

Next Steps - Regional Partnerships

In addition, we will work with COSLA, local authorities and their business and other local partners to build on existing and emerging opportunities throughout Scotland and to optimise regional economic impact while remaining responsive to meeting local needs. This is with the aim of building on assets to harness regional strengths to stimulate local economic development and to build inclusive growth.

Next Steps - Strengthening Front-line Support

In phase 2, we will also undertake further work with our agencies to develop the right digital approach and a new system of enterprise and skills support.

On digital, evidence from the review highlighted the critical dependency of our global economic competitiveness on the right digital approach. Stakeholders identified various key contributory factors: connectivity; skills; business capability to operate digitally; and the development of digital public services. They highlighted the need:

  • for good connectivity across all parts of the country;
  • to increase general digital skills levels across all parts of our population, including those in work;
  • for increased specialist skills to be available to ensure that businesses can design modern, internationally competitive services;
  • for more businesses to be fully digital, applying digital technologies in core business beyond website design to reach and service customers, respond to feedback, improve back-office support, use analytics, and develop new types of services;
  • for a wider digital support offering to more businesses; and
  • public services to be available digitally and be user-focused with 'no wrong door' access.

In response, we will seek to implement with agencies over the coming months:

  • a step-change in digital skills provision at both general and specialist level;
  • wider support for more businesses to increase their appetite and skills to operate digitally so that every business can be a digital business; and
  • better communication of the Scottish Government's infrastructure plans, and ongoing examination of how best to accelerate improved coverage.

On enterprise support, evidence from the review suggested the system had broadly identified the right strategic framework and considered areas where operational delivery might be improved. It was suggested that:

  • it may be reasonable to seek certain attributes or contributions from companies seeking and receiving public sector support;
  • 'high growth' company support might be better and more clearly targeted and should be time-limited in nature, with clearer entry and exit points;
  • more companies might benefit from advice and support, with a wider core offering around increasing productivity, innovation, digital support and exporting;
  • targeting should be reviewed and focused on increasing impact;
  • in many cases, the right advice and support for businesses might offer greater impact than grant; and
  • there are opportunities to involve businesses more effectively in the design of services and some aspects of delivery.

In response, during phase 2 we will look at the best way to take forward:

  • improving the delivery of enterprise support with better targeting, and clearer entry and exit points;
  • a wider and more coherent offering of core support to more businesses. This will cover innovation, productivity, digital and exporting, and may include improved web-based delivery and one-to-many engagement;
  • increased focus on ensuring the right advice and support services over grant provision;
  • closer engagement with the private sector to shape how the public sector can meet business needs; and
  • the right areas for the private sector to engage in providing services.


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