Scotland is well-prepared to meet the challenges posed by rapid technological advances, according to Scottish business minister Jamie Hepburn MSP.
Speaking yesterday at the Next Generation of Business conference, hosted by Edinburgh Napier University, Hepburn told attendees that Scotland must avoid previous mistakes where people and communities were left behind by economic and industrial change.
The conference explored how Scotland and its people can develop the skills needed to drive economic growth amid an era of rapid technological, social and economic change.
Key topics in the spotlight included cyber currencies, evolving expectations on business transparency and changes to workforces across Scotland.
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Representatives from a range of sectors also discussed how management education programmes can help equip students with the skills they need to succeed in the modern world.
In his keynote address, Hepburn said that for Scotland to prosper economically the nation must develop a fairer society. Achieving inclusive growth during a transformative and disruptive period, he said, will be one of the great questions of our times.
“The rapid advance of new technologies and business models threatens to exacerbate already wide inequalities,” he said. “We should perhaps remind ourselves that the past record of adjusting to economic and industrial change in Scotland isn’t exactly impressive – too many people and communities have been left behind, denied the tools to reskills and access emerging job opportunities.”
Hepburn added that the Scottish Government is “determined not to repeat the mistakes of the past”, arguing that the government has a prime opportunity to address economic and social challenges that will likely arise due to technological change.
Additionally, he outlined several initiatives already underway to help boost productivity and reduce inequality in Scotland. These include the Scottish Business Pledge, which has now been made by more than 650 business.
The Scottish Business Pledge is a partnership between the Scottish Government and business which aims to boost productivity and competitiveness through sustainable employment, fairness and equality.
Similarly, the Fair Work Action Plan and Scotland’s Future Skills Action Plan, the latter of which was unveiled last month, are helping to plug Scotland’s economic and skills-based gaps.
“Our vision for Scotland can be set out very simply,” he asserted. “Scotland will become a more productive and more prosperous country if we become a fairer society. We must ensure that sufficient numbers of quality jobs are generated to meet the needs and aspirations of all our citizens.”