Scottish Government unveils ‘bold’ recovery plan for manufacturing sector

Exterior of the Scottish Parliament

THE Scottish Government is seeking views on proposals to secure a strong, sustainable future for the manufacturing sector.

The recovery plan has been developed by the government, its enterprise and skills agencies, industry partners, trade unions and academics to support the sector over the next 12 months.

Recognising the significant impact Covid-19 has had on the country’s manufacturing sector, it focusses on four areas deemed to be a priority: collaboration and networks, supply chains and competitiveness, adaption and transformation, and skills and workforce.

Actions include:
• Developing a manufacturing start-up accelerator, drawing on international best practice, to get more investment into new or early stage companies.

• Supporting inward investors to create new supply chain opportunities for Scottish manufacturers.

• Providing funding and support to help more manufacturing companies make the shift to digital solutions and low carbon practices that reduce costs and increase profits.

• Developing a skills programme that will help workers reskill or put their transferable skills to use in other parts of the manufacturing sector.

The Scottish Government said that proposals will be the subject of consultation over the next six weeks and will be finalised in early 2021.

Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop said, “Like many parts of the economy, manufacturing has been deeply affected by Covid-19 and Brexit uncertainty remains a threat.

“We’ve also seen Scotland’s manufacturers demonstrating their flexibility and adaptability in these difficult times. This winter, for example, nearly half of all personal protective equipment used by NHS Scotland will be made here, providing security of supply and supporting jobs. Prior to the pandemic it was all sourced from outside Scotland so this is an incredible achievement.

“This plan sets out a bold agenda, building on strong foundations to take advantage of new opportunities in technology, digital and green innovation. Manufacturing will be critical to our long-term economic recovery and we want to hear views from across this diverse sector.”

Linda Hanna, interim chief executive of Scottish Enterprise, said, “This plan goes beyond recovery to lead a manufacturing renaissance that is sustainable in every sense.

“The adaptability of the industry was clear to see as it rose to the challenges of Covid-19 by changing working practices, producing PPE and maintaining essential supplies, highlighting the sector’s resilience.

“What is important is that Scotland has an outward and forward-looking, innovative manufacturing sector. A sector where collaboration and talent are key, where there are future trade, investment and supply chain opportunities, and where manufacturing and the valuable jobs it supports are at the heart of the economy.”

Paul Sheerin, CEO of Scottish Engineering, added, “A challenge of the magnitude of the Covid-19 pandemic demands a response that is ambitious, coordinated and uses all the available existing expertise whilst actively seeking new pathways to turn adversity into opportunity.

“By focusing and coordinating Scotland’s excellent support organisations, and working in partnership with industry, the actions of this plan will enable manufacturers to do what they do best: adapt, transform and continuously improve to ensure sustainable recovery of a sector that is critical to Scotland’s economic wellbeing.”