July update

Scotland’s economic recovery ‘taking shape’

Scotland’s recovery is beginning to take shape, according to the latest SCDI State of the Nation briefing.

Business confidence is now higher north of the border than anywhere else in the UK. The private sector continues to rebound and expand, with the Purchasing Managers Index surging from 55.4 in April to 61.5 in May. Growth forecasts for 2021 have been upgraded.

Scotland is set to ease most restrictions by 9 August, which will be especially welcome news for the retail sector. May’s retail sales figures for Scotland were at the best in 15 months as restrictions eased and some pent-up consumer demand was released, but footfall remains lower and operating costs higher than normal.

There has been much buzz about the alleged benefits and opportunities of a new era of ‘hybrid working’ heralded by COVID-19, but new data from CIPD Scotland reveals some stark home truths about home working.

Nearly half of Scottish workers (43%) have jobs which cannot be done from home.

Homeworkers report higher workloads and work-life balance, while many do not have a suitable workspace (13%) or lack suitable broadband (12%).

Meanwhile, around 1 in 4 workers say that their job damages their mental or physical health. This evidence suggests a challenging environment for the Fair Work agenda in Scotland.

Another major challenge for Scotland in the years to come will be tackling climate change and getting to net zero. But our new SCDI report in partnership with BT, the Royal Society of Edinburgh and ScotlandIS powerfully demonstrates that it is also a major strategic opportunity for the Scottish economy to boost jobs, exports and productivity.

Innovation Critical: Scotland’s Net Zero Mission and Climate Tech Opportunity finds that Scotland can become a leading innovator and exporter of digital technological solutions to net zero challenges, capturing £250m of inward investment (double current projections) and producing a Climate Tech unicorn by 2025.

That is why we are calling for a new national innovation mission around ‘Scotland’s Climate Tech Moonshot’. It will take action, ambition and collaboration from everyone. But together – just as we have worked hard to begin to defeat the pandemic – we can do it.

David Kelly is SCDI policy manager

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