As we begin to make our way out of the Covid-19 pandemic and look to rebuild and grow Scotland's economy, a successful, vibrant, diverse manufacturing sector has never been more critical to long-term recovery and success.
Manufacturing companies deliver high quality jobs, drive innovation and growth, and boost productivity and wellbeing. Pre-Covid figures (2018) show the sector was worth £12.5 billion in Gross Value Added (GVA) and employed approximately 170,000 people, many in highly skilled jobs.
So the timing of this updated version of Making Scotland's Future: A Recovery Plan For Manufacturing is of critical importance. Last December we published the draft plan for consultation, outlining a wide range of proposed actions for public agencies, industry and academia to take forward in order to secure a strong, sustainable future for the sector across four inter-dependent priority areas: collaboration and networks; supply chains and competitiveness; adaptation and transformation; and skills and workforce.
Over 50 consultation responses were submitted with all the proposed actions receiving a favourable response. The importance of promoting collaboration between companies, the alignment of support to enable companies to modernise, and the development of a Skills Partnership Programme were particularly well received.
The interim period between publication of the draft plan and this updated version has been put to good use. We have continued to provide the manufacturing sector with updated guidance on the safe operation of workplaces as Scotland has moved through the Covid-19 Strategic Framework. In addition, over the past few months we have made several announcements that will provide further support for the sector, including:
- the first call for applications to the Scottish Enterprise Green Jobs Fund to help companies in Scotland develop the low carbon products of the future and create high-quality jobs
- additional funding of £120 million for zero emission buses, which will support supply chain companies
- the five-year, £180 million Emerging Energy Technologies Fund (EETF) which over the next five years will drive development of innovative low carbon solutions
- the launch of the Digital Boost fund to help companies invest in their digital capabilities
- the start of construction at the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland.
Now as the economy begins to recover and grow, we collectively need to ensure that the sector is ready to take advantage of the opportunities that will arise as supply chains are rebuilt and international trade opens up again, in both established and new markets. This is particularly important as manufacturing supports over half of Scotland's international exports.
Now more than ever, we need to capitalise on our assets to ensure an inclusive and sustainable economic recovery. Scotland needs to develop its traditional strengths in areas such as textiles, timber, distilling and engineering, as well as its emerging strengths in space, satellites, net zero and healthcare across all of its regions from Shetland to the Scottish Borders. Digital provides a means to move past geographic barriers allowing innovative ways for our sectors to connect, build collaborations and scale, working together to deliver greater outcomes for our communities and for Scotland.
Modernisation, in particular embracing digital transformation and low carbon production, will be key to the future. First and foremost, these changes will boost companies' productivity and profitability, but they will also put the manufacturing sector at the heart of a global green recovery. The sector will help Scotland meet its target of generating net zero emissions by 2045 and increase its international competitiveness by making the country a more attractive place for trade and investment.
Scotland has always been a nation of creators and makers. Now, by harnessing our collective talent, expertise and pioneering spirit, we can once again stand tall as a country known for inventing, designing, developing and building world-leading products and technologies.
Manufacturing is making Scotland's future.
Kate Forbes MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy