Nicola Sturgeon officially re-opened the Dalzell Scottish steel plant in Motherwell today. This follows decisive action taken by the Scottish Government earlier this year to secure a new owner, which safeguarded full manufacturing capability for the plant in the future.
This isn’t the first time the Scottish Government has stepped up to protect a key national asset. With government assistance a new buyer was found for the Ferguson shipyard in Port Glasgow. Under new ownership, the yard is winning public contracts and expanding its workforce.
Manufacturing is hugely important to Scotland’s economy, accounting for over half of our international exports; employing nearly 190,000 people across the country. In government, the SNP is working to make sure we have an innovative manufacturing industry that creates high-skilled, well-paid jobs into the future.
Here’s some of the action we’re taking.
Targeted support to help manufacturers expand
We will continue to invest in the ingenuity of Scotland’s manufacturers, which account for half of our research and development (R&D) spend. Nicola Sturgeon recently announced the biggest R&D grant ever awarded – to one of of the world’s leading bus and coach builders, Alexander Dennis, to help them grow and innovate.
To support more businesses, particularly start-up companies with the potential to grow and export more, a new Scottish Growth Scheme will provide up to £500 million over three years of investment guarantees and some loans.
Investing in economic development
While the UK government abolished regional development agencies in England, we’ve retained our enterprise agencies in Scotland. That’s just one reason why spending on economic development in Scotland is higher than the UK as a whole – to the tune of £76 per head.
We will now review enterprise and skills agencies to ensure they continue to deliver the targeted support that young people, universities, colleges and businesses need.
A new National Manufacturing Institute to foster innovation
The Scottish Government is undertaking new work to establish a new manufacturing centre of excellence and skills academy, the National Manufacturing Institute for Scotland.
The centre will provide support to Scotland’s manufacturers to help them compete in international markets and support Scotland’s industry in terms of innovation and digital opportunities.
This is a major, transformative project being developed by the Scottish Government and Strathclyde University, alongside the Scottish Research Partnership in Engineering, enterprise agencies, Skills Development Scotland, the Scottish Funding Council and the private sector.
Creating a skilled manufacturing workforce for the future
Research suggests that 65 per cent of children in preschool today will work in jobs or careers that don’t yet exist. So, we will develop and implement a Scottish STEM strategy to ensure, from the earliest age, children are alive to the opportunities that science, technology, engineering and maths can offer them.
We’ll roll out our programme of school STEM clusters and develop a Scottish STEM ambassador network, so that by 2020 every Scottish school is working with a STEM partner from the private, public or third sectors. We’ll focus in particular on encouraging more girls and women to study STEM related subjects.
Leading the world with greener, smarter manufacturing
We’ve put in place a programme of support – backed by a £70 million investment – to enable companies to grasp the opportunities of the circular economy. The circular economy provides firms with opportunities to reduce waste, improve design and manufacturing processes, and extend the life-cycle of the products they produce.