Economy Secretary confirms new enterprise and skills structure

Changes to the enterprise and skills system were unveiled today by Economy Secretary Keith Brown, who said they would drive Scotland’s ambitions to be a top performing OECD nation. Updating the Scottish Parliament, Brown confirmed details of a new ‘strategic board’ that will “reset the relationship enterprise and skills agencies have with businesses”. The board will encourage greater collaboration and innovation between agencies, “helping strengthen the support they give to people, businesses, training providers, universities and colleges”.

The names, functions and structures of the four agency boards will remain unchanged. The new Strategic Board will be led by an independent chair and include chairs from agencies and non-executive members from businesses, local government, skills and research and trade unions. It will create a strategic plan to identify priorities and measure performance and “work collaboratively with partners to shape the new landscape”.

Brown said: “Driving inclusive growth through increasing productivity has been the primary focus of our enterprise and skills review, as we believe a step change can deliver higher wages and skills – supporting our ambition for Scotland to rank among the top OECD countries for productivity, equality, wellbeing and sustainability.

“I am delighted by the strong, recent progress in productivity and innovation. The review will build on this, ensuring people and businesses receive the most effective support available. The extensive feedback we have received helped shape the review and how we will deliver an enterprise and skills support system that is greater than the sum of its parts. As the first step, our commitment to create a Strategic Board has been welcomed by agencies and experts.

“We have listened to the views of Parliament and those with an interest in our review, and can confirm that the Highlands and Islands Enterprise board and the boards of the other three agencies will remain. As I have previously promised, HIE will continue to be locally-based, managed and directed, and the new arrangements will protect and enhance their unique service.

“Far from diminishing the role of the agencies, I want to strengthen their capability and encourage greater collaboration. The Strategic Board will assist the work of the four agency boards. We will continue to listen to people’s views as we progress to the next stage of the review as we are committed to doing all we can to boost Scotland’s economy.”