The SCDI spent a year asking members what Scotland should be known for in 2030. The ‘Making a Good Living’ report is the result

The challenges we have faced in the last year have forced us to take stock of our personal and professional lives and think about what is important. As we plan for the future we are making different decisions about what we want to take with us and what we want to leave behind. 

The Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI) is unique in bringing together businesses, charities, the public sector and wider civil society in a shared mission to transform Scotland’s economy. Our members are committed to a better economy for Scotland and are experts in their field, and we have spent a year talking to them about their challenges and priorities. 

We asked them what Scotland should be known for in the global economy of 2030 and our 10-year vision and strategy for Scotland’s economy – Making a Good Living – is the result. 

The report highlights 12 actions for government, industry and wider civil society to put Scotland back on a prosperous footing for a sustainable future. In the short term that means a laser-like focus on economic recovery, unlocking trade barriers, fully reopening the economy, and supporting those who have lost their jobs to retrain and find new work. 

Our members are telling us we must do things differently, with people, the planet and profit – the triple bottom line – being the key to successful organisations. 

This is reflected in their desire to make Scotland a global hub for ‘purposeful business’. This builds on existing initiatives such as the Scottish Business Pledge and working with our existing responsible businesses to develop a framework which incentivises and rewards purposeful growth. 

This also means that future policy choices need to be made through the lens of their impact on our productivity and wellbeing. To support this, we are proposing a Commission to address Scotland’s high levels of inequality and the nation’s health issues alongside our economic challenges of low productivity and transition to net zero carbon by 2045. 

Our productivity challenge is a complex one and one not unique to Scotland. We are asking the government to accelerate support for digitalisation and for industry to invest in training and research and development. Our request of Holyrood and Westminster governments is for them to work together to remove the barriers to exporting for Scottish business and to encourage more businesses to export.

We are clear, however, that the role of government should also be to create the conditions for growth that encourage entrepreneurship and reward and incentivise innovation. Scotland has real strengths in energy and the transition from oil and gas to renewables presents us with a unique opportunity to develop and lead globally on ‘clean growth’ solutions.

Our marine and coastal activities (the blue economy) and our emerging bioeconomy of food, feed and fuels from agriculture and fishing also represent a potential source of new jobs and prosperity. Binding commitments to maximise the home-grown employment and investment opportunities from each are required. 

The investment and huge collective effort required to get to net-zero needs to be supported by an increase in the price of carbon by the UK government combined with a progressive, and World Trade Organisation-compliant, carbon border tax. The revenues should be reinvested directly in clean growth opportunities and new green jobs. With the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) coming to Scotland in November, now is our chance to seize the opportunity for Scotland to become a global leader in clean growth. 

Accelerating digital connectivity and improving transport connections are key to ensuring all of Scotland’s people benefit from growth and enable the repopulation of rural areas. We also call for investment by government, industry, and the private rented sector in new, better insulated, and low-carbon housing stock. We propose ways to revisit the design of places to ensure that investment in infrastructure supports active travel, accessible local public services and amenities, and more green spaces for us to meet and rebuild a healthy Scottish society for the future.

As A ‘Think-And-do’ Tank, SCDI continues to work with all sectors and industries to address their needs. We are tackling low productivity through a Scotland-wide network of Productivity Clubs, where organisations are learning how to do more with the same in a peer-to-peer environment.

People with science and technological skills and knowhow are vital to helping us tackle complex challenges and transforming our lives for the better. Their skills are more in demand than ever. Our Young Engineering and Science Clubs provide a vital link between school and the world of work. They are helping attract and enthuse the next generation of innovators and problem solvers and ensuring enough young people pursue Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects to ensure Scotland is fit for the future.