As Nora Senior gets advisory post...

Sturgeon under pressure to reveal growth plans

Nicola Sturgeon at BioQuarterNicola Sturgeon on a recent visit to Edinburgh BioQuarter (photo: Terry Murden)

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will today be urged to explain how the Scottish government intends to help business “grasp the opportunities of a global marketplace”.

She is due to set out “bold plans” to support the economy and she will be expected to provide a clear agenda.

The Scottish government is under pressure to stimulate growth following the publication of spending and revenue figures last week which showed income to be sluggish and the deficit in public finances rising.

Ahead of a speech in Ayrshire she announced that former Scottish Chambers of Commerce chairman Nora Senior will head up a new committee that will coordinate economic development among public sector bodies.

Ms Sturgeon will unveil the latest stage of the government’s economic strategy during a visit to Spirit AeroSpace in Prestwick, home to some of the advanced manufacturing innovations that she says will deliver growth.

She has made a number of public appearances at technology-based companies, including last week’s visit to the Edinburgh BioQuarter in a clear attempt to associate herself and the government with modern growth businesses.

The First Minister will use today’s opportunity to set out how the Scottish Government will help business and employees grasp the opportunities and challenges of a changing global marketplace, the potential of new technology and the transition to a low-carbon economy.

She will offer support to key sectors and will call on business, academia and the public sector to build on existing successes by “working together” to put Scotland at the fore of new economic developments.

The First Minister is expected to say: “Scotland has immense economic potential, but we must be more ambitious, with government, businesses and wider society working together to lead on the key technological and social changes of the future.

“We already invest more than £2 billion a year on skills and business support. For enterprise and economic development specifically, we spend £100 a head more than the UK as a whole. 

“Yet we must move more quickly to secure our economic future – one that focuses on innovation and inclusion and creates an economy that works for the benefit of all of Scotland’s people.”

Ahead of the speech, the First Minister confirmed that Nora Senior (right), chairman of UK regions for global PR firm Weber Shandwick, will chair the new Strategic Board for Enterprise and Skills.

This will coordinate the work of the public sector to deliver growth in the economy. Ms Senior recently served as president of the British Chambers of Commerce and chairman of Scottish Chambers of Commerce.

The First Minister said: “The new Strategic Board for the Enterprise and Skills Agencies will come into being later this year.  One reason for establishing that board is to ensure better co-ordination of our agencies, securing maximum impact from our spending.

“The quality of the leadership of that board will be crucial.  That is why I am delighted to announce that Nora Senior as the board’s first chair.

“Nora has had a hugely distinguished career in business and is the ideal person to lead the new strategic board as it works with business to achieve our shared ambitions for growth.”

Ms Senior said: “There is clear ambition to increase productivity and drive inclusive economic growth in Scotland   To achieve that we need to maximise the considerable investment in enterprise and skills development to ensure we have the right skills, resources and business support in place  

“The Strategic Board creates a central  focus for representatives from business, education ,our economic agencies and civic communities from around Scotland to align behind a common purpose and vision, input to the most effective areas of investment, collaborate and share resources.”

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