National Strategy for Economic Transformation Delivery Board minutes: August 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the group held on 9 August 2022.

Attendees and apologies

  • John Swinney, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Covid Recovery, Interim Co-Chair
  • Barry White, Co-Chair, Former Chief Executive, Scottish Futures Trust
  • Audrey Cumberford, Principal and Chief Executive, Edinburgh College
  • Jamie McGowan, Managing Director, Essence of Harris
  • Douglas Millican, CEO, Scottish Water
  • Gillian Docherty, Chief Commercial Officer, University of Strathclyde
  • Sir Simon Lister, Managing Director, BAE Systems Naval Ships
  • Ellis Watson, Former Chief Executive, DC Thomson Media Group


  • Roz Foyer, General Secretary, Scottish Trade Union Congress
  • Nora Senior, Former Executive Group Chair, Weber Shandwick and past Chair, Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board
  • Ewan Aitken, Chief Executive, Cyrenians
  • Colette Cohen, CEO, The Net Zero Technology Centre
  • Uzma Khan, Vice Principal Economic Development and Innovation, and Deputy Chief Operating Officer, University of Glasgow

Supporting officials

  • Louise Macdonald, Director General Economy, Scottish Government
  • Aidan Grisewood, Director for Economic Strategy, Scottish Government

Items and actions

Purpose: The board held an introductory meeting to introduce the Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Covid Recovery as the interim co-chair whilst the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Economy is on maternity leave.

Deputy First Minister (DFM) raised the following points during his introductory remarks:

  • National Strategy for Economic Transformation (NSET) has an ambitious set of goals and aspirations aimed at transforming the Scottish economy
  • in delivering these ambitions, DFM made three key points:
    • the need for a participatory economy i.e. to ensure we have an economy that maximises the contribution of our society – applying a circular approach by, for example, equipping young people to be active participants in the labour market
    • the diversity of Scotland – tailoring the approach and interventions to meet the regional economic challenges that exist i.e. de-population of island communities and the different characteristics needed for city communities
    • entrepreneurship -  what can we do to build on the progress made on start-ups to help businesses scale up 
  • keen to focus on delivery, ensuring the right connections are made between different sectors and parts of our society

Barry White, co-chair also highlighted the following:

  • the economic backdrop has shifted through the economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and the cost of living crisis
  • despite this, there is a need to make bold choices on the economic climate. NSET is capable of identifying quick successes but also looking at the longer term commitment
  • by the September 2022 meeting we should have a clearer idea on the new UK Prime Minister and their policy priorities, which will help shape the NSET work and funding

The board raised the following points:

  • NSET should be helping the Scottish Government create the best economic environment through strategic direction, policy, funding and incentives. Delivery partners can help identify quick wins and short term priorities to build momentum across Scotland
  • need to look at the current policy initiatives in place and not reinvent the wheel. Also look at where the Board can add value through the economic partnerships. [Ellis Watson to help support this work]
  • important to look at the upskilling and re-skilling of the workforce, including looking at the role of digital skills. Having the access to data will help make informed choices on how best to grow the confidence and skillset of Scotland’s young people.  Foundation Apprenticeships have helped with this and where support needs to be targeted, particularly in regions that cannot assess this support
  • supporting entrepreneurism through an adequate skills system. Growing the mind set in Scotland to support these types of jobs by adapting the workplace culture
  • the Board should look to set clear objectives and timescales. If a year on and it has not made progress it will be hard to maintain confidence in the Board
  • the Board should focus on fewer, bigger issues where it can make a real difference
  • the members are in the unique position of being able to provide unvarnished feedback on the impact different economic policies are having on-the-ground
  • important we build on the lessons from the Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board (ESSB), including the need to take bold action where needed. The current climate is disruptive and therefore we cannot assume current approaches will be sufficient
  • the Board members highlighted that they are still in the preparing to make a difference phase and are keen to see more information both on the implementation of NSET and the draft delivery plans which are being prepared
  • it was highlighted that a number of key elements have already been delivered:
    • Mark Logan has been appointed as Chief Entrepreneur for NSET
    • the establishment of a nationwide network of tech scalers
    • the launch of the Wellbeing Economy Monitor (WEM)

Barry White, Co-Chair summarised the following next steps:

  • the next meeting of the board will take place on the 14 September 2022 (second official meeting of the board). The main agenda item will be a discussion on the draft programme delivery plans and the NSET metrics of success
  • the Board will finalise its terms of reference through correspondence in advance of the September 2022 meeting. Key points to consider: What do we want to accelerate or stop? Need to clearly articulate this through the board’s objectives
  • the NSET Secretariat team will do some mapping work to scope out how members can champion and support the delivery of NSET


  • it was agreed more information would be shared with the Board and it will receive regular progress updates
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