Scotland's Economy

Scottish Business Buzz (17.09.15)

Written by Michelle Rodger
Ian McDougall

Ian McDougall

Business for Scotland today welcomes the survey results from the FSB, showing 70% of Scottish business want to maintain Scotland’s EU membership. 

The FSB survey largely mirrors our own more positive survey results on EU membership.  BfS has twice canvassed our membership on the EU; firstly during last year’s referendum when our survey generated 99% support for maintaining EU membership, and then at our AGM when 100% of the delegates voted to campaign to stay in the EU.

Our view is clear – Scotland exiting the EU would not be in the best interests of the Scottish business community.

Business for Scotland will be working with our members, other business groups and political parties that share our vision for a mutually beneficial trading relationship with businesses throughout Europe, and we reject the idea of restricting our trading relationships, business opportunities and access to the 500 million potential customers that live in the EU.

The White Paper on Independence last year wasn’t focused on separation from the UK but on independence within a UK common market – that is what the UK has now with the EU and it is a model that our members fully support.

Ian McDougall, a member and owner of the Glasgow Distillery and accounting firm McDougall Johnstone, said:

“As a small business owner whose export strategy is dependent on access to the common market, I believe that Scotland maintaining its EU membership is vital to jobs and business growth for businesses across Scotland.

“The Conservative party needs to campaign for reforms to the EU, but this should be done positively from within its membership and they should stop picking, and losing, fights with our European partners.”

Scotland’s leading software lobby group has hired two senior figures to head up a  new academy aimed at solving a chronic skills shortage.

CodeClan will offer short courses to anyone looking for a change of career. It is the brainchild of ScotlandIS and Skills Development Scotland and it will take its first students next month.

Polly Purvis

Polly Purvis

The academy is based on the success of a new breed of intensive coding schools such as Makers, launched in London in 2013, Stackademy in Berlin and Flatiron School in New York. Two big-hitters have been hired: Michael Pavling from London, who will be head of curriculum, and Harvey Wheaton, who has been working in Finland and is appointed chief executive.

It is hoped that 100 students will go through the academy in its first year and will be ready for jobs in a sector desperate to fill vacancies. Topics taught will include data structures, algorithms, databases, object oriented design and programming, development methodologies, UX [user experience] and more ‘soft’ skills like communication

However, applicants for the courses do not need to have a technical background. ScotlandIS chief executive Polly Purvis said: “People who bring other skills to the sector are very valuable.

“It is easy to forget that software is designed to solve a problem or advance some task. So it helps if people coming into it have a knowledge of, for instance, consumer products and services.”

Graduates will receive Professional Development Awards in software development from the Scottish Qualifications Authority.

More on this on Daily Business.

Scotland’s food and drink sector is flourishing and on target to hit £16.5bn by 2017.

Richard Lochhead MSP

Richard Lochhead MSP

Food secretary Richard Lochhead announced the results of analysis by the Scottish Government showing food and drink turnover up £550 million on the previous year to a new record of £14.3bn.

The sector has shown an overall 24 per cent increase since 2008, with food and drink manufacturing – which accounts for about three-quarters of the total turnover figure – growing twice as fast in that period as the sector in the UK as a whole.

Speaking on a visit to the Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group in Bellshill, Richard Lochhead said: “Our food and drink growth sector is a spectacular Scottish success story, with turnover reaching a record high in 2013. To surpass £14bn for the first time is simply outstanding and must give the sector real confidence.

“Our country is blessed with fantastic natural resources and this industry – with its strong brand and talented people – is Scotland’s jewel in the crown.

“I am committed to seeing it thrive and flourish which is why the Scottish Government and our agencies are working closely with industry to achieve its ambitious targets, which have previously been smashed years ahead of schedule.

“It is because of this joint approach that we are leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of the UK, with food and drink manufacturing in Scotland, for example, growing at twice the UK rate between 2008 and 2013.”

The full story is in The National.

Report shows increased output in manufacturing and service sectors

Report shows increased output in manufacturing and service sectors

The latest Bank of Scotland PMI report for August has found that both output and the number of new orders are increasing across the manufacturing and service sectors.

The report’s headline figure – a single measure of the month-on-month change in combined output from both sectors – fell to 50.8 in August, from 52.2 in July. This shows that, while the private sector is continuing to expand, this growth is slowing.

According to data gathered across the sector, domestic demand was sustained, with both sectors reporting growth in new business. However, manufacturers saw a sharp fall in the number of export orders, which Bank of Scotland attributes to the effect of a strong pound.

Firms also reported a return to employment growth in August, although this rise was lower than the UK average. Bank of Scotland found that where payroll numbers rose, the survey members had also reported new business growth.

Donald MacRae, chief economist at Bank of Scotland, said: “August’s PMI was 50.8 recording a fall in the month but still signalling growth. Output and employment grew in all sectors but at modest rates. New business grew slowly in both manufacturing and services while new export orders fell for the seventh successive month.

“The private sector continues to recover from the slowdown at the start of the year but the Scottish economy will have to rely on the Government sector to raise growth to trend levels in the third quarter of this year.”

This story is from Aberdeen Business News.

Scotland - the perfect stage

Scotland – the perfect stage

VisitScotland has unveiled a new ten year strategy to grow Scotland’s £3.5bn events industry.

‘Scotland – The Perfect Stage’ sets out how Scotland can enhance its reputation nationally and internationally as the perfect stage for events.

The previous strategy culminated in Scotland hosting the 20th Commonwealth Games, 2014 Cultural Programme, The Ryder Cup and more than 1,000 events in the Homecoming Scotland 2014 programme.

At the centre of the strategy is equal responsibility for delivery on the Scottish Government, the Events and Festivals sector and individual event organisers. This represents a more collaborative approach to ensure that Scotland continues to develop, improve and invest in the events industry.

VisitScotland chairman, Dr Mike Cantlay OBE, said: “Events are an increasingly crucial part of Scotland’s tourism offering. We continue to build on 2014 to show that Scotland’s facilities, infrastructure and, most importantly, warm and welcoming people make it the perfect stage to deliver major events to the highest standards.

“With our new strategy I look forward to welcoming even more world-class events to our shores in the future.”

VisitScotland’s Events Directorate has led the development of the strategy and, through the work of its EventScotland team, Scotland has already been announced as host of The Open Championship in 2016, the European Sports Championships in 2018, and UEFA Euro 2020. Landmark celebrations are set to take place in 2017 to mark the 70th anniversary of the emergence of the Edinburgh Festivals.

Scotland is also one of two nations bidding to host the 2019 Solheim Cup at The Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire, to be decided later this year.

Read more in Business Quarterly.

Scotland needs a new integrated smart energy system

Scotland needs a new integrated smart energy system

Scotland has the potential to be a world leader in integrated energy systems, according to a report from The Carbon Trust.

The report suggests Scotland could optimise its “abundant natural resources and world class innovation capabilities by developing a fully integrated energy system to help the country meet its carbon emissions targets, create jobs and secure an international leadership position in smart grid technology”.

Its report states: “Whilst Scotland is well on its way to meeting its electricity demand target, progress on heat and transport needs to accelerate significantly over the next five years.”

Current targets are for Scotland to meet 30 per cent of its overall energy demand from renewables by 2020 and for 100 per cent of electricity demand to be supplied from renewable sources.

Andrew Lever, the trust’s director of innovation, said: “Scotland has come a long way in the journey towards meetings its ambitious carbon reduction targets and we believe Scotland has now reached an important juncture in this journey.

“By pulling all the strands of the energy strategy together the nation has a significant opportunity to optimise the use of Scotland’s abundant renewable energy resources and exploit its distinctive characteristics to not only meet the nation’s climate change targets, but generate significant economic value for Scotland in the long term.

“To realise this vision Scotland needs a new integrated smart energy system.

“This is good news for Scotland. We believe it has the skills and capacity required to address many of the innovation challenges that exist and the political will to unleash the nation’s potential to deliver Scotland’s future integrated low carbon energy system.”

The Daily Record has more here.

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About the author

Michelle Rodger

Michelle is a former national newspaper journalist who co-founded an award-winning IT business before launching Tartan Cat Communications. A social media and crowdfunding expert she manages media and communications for Business for Scotland.

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