Since 2007, we have taken real action to protect jobs, boost economic growth and improve productivity. More people are in work than when the recession hit, unemployment is at a near historic low, our economy is growing faster than the UK as a whole, exports are up and our higher education R&D spend is amongst the highest in the developed world.
To build a skilled and educated workforce, we’re committed to increasing the number of Modern Apprenticeships to 30,000; we’re increasing college funding, and education will continue to be tuition free under the SNP.
To support small businesses, we have expanded the Small Business Bonus Scheme. Small businesses have saved more than a billion pounds in Business Rates, thanks to the scheme. We are funding a total business rates relief package worth more than £750 million, the most generous anywhere in the UK.
To further improve access to finance, we are establishing a Scottish National Investment Bank, supporting businesses with the long-term investment they need to grow. We have committed to investing £2 billion over 10 years to capitalise the Scottish National Investment Bank, making it a cornerstone of Scotland’s economy.
Unlike successive Westminster governments, we will never turn our back on Scottish industry. We have stepped in to secure a future for Scottish Steel, Pinney’s, BiFab and more recently, Ferguson’s shipyard – taking it into public control.
And we are providing support for our manufacturing sector, the £48 million National Manufacturing Institute will deliver benefits for manufacturing companies of all sizes in sectors across Scotland.
We are establishing a new Board of Trade in the Scottish Government, setting up a new trade envoy scheme and have created permanent trade representation in Berlin and Paris to add to our Investment hubs in Dublin, London and Brussels.
We are also doubling the number of Scottish Development International staff working across Europe to support investment and trade opportunities for Scotland. These additional resources will work to identify, nurture and develop new opportunities for Scottish companies in priority sectors and markets.