Enterprise and Skills Review report on Phase 2: International

Report illustrating the outcomes and progress achieved by the International project as part of the Enterprise and Skills Review.

1. Introduction and context

Phase 1 of the Enterprise and Skills Review made two key recommendations in terms of Scotland's ability to be a truly "open and international economy":

  • 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 SDIs 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.

The report noted that our existing strengths and successes, and the agenda for internationalisation set out in our Trade and Investment Strategy [1] , 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 focussed 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.
  • 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.

Strategic context

The Scottish Government's International Framework sets the direction for Scotland's international activity. The world is increasingly global, and Scotland must remain internationally relevant. Our people must have the skills and attitudes to seize new opportunities and participate in a global world. This is integral to building a stronger, fairer and more prosperous Scotland.

Scotland's Economic Strategy sets out an over-arching framework for a more competitive and a fairer Scotland and identifies four broad priority areas where our actions will be targeted to make a difference. A key strand of the strategy is internationalisation. It sets out our ambition to promote Scotland on the international stage to boost our trade and investment, influence and networks.

The Trade and Investment Strategy, published in 2016, recognises the need to better co-ordinate international trade and investment activity:

"We want to create a system and a culture where that kind of One Scotland, collaborative approach is the default setting across the public, private and academic sectors and among individuals and businesses, for how we use our combined resources, expertise and networks to collectively achieve our ambition. This includes ensuring that policies and activities across the Scottish Government in areas like education, transport and culture support our ambition and wider internationalisation agenda."

The International work being taken forward in Phase 2 of the Enterprise and Skills Review is therefore closely related to the implementation of the Trade and Investment Strategy and to the First Minister's four point plan announced on 15 October 2016. It is intended to build on, rather than revisit the actions set out in the Strategy and Plan - rather the emphasis is principally on ensuring that those activities, and the actions of others, are better coordinated and thus more effective.


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 mind-set, 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.


Back to top