Scotland’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation Published

Date Posted: 1 Mar, 2022

Over 70 actions across five key themes published

A new National Strategy for Economic Transformation, underpinned by detailed analysis of Scotland’s economic strengths and weaknesses, has been published by the Scottish Government.

The strategy contains over 70 actions across five key priority programmes that have been identified as having the greatest potential to deliver economic growth that significantly outperforms the last decade within the current constitutional arrangements.

Investment will be prioritised in entrepreneurialism, skills and retraining and the development of new markets and opportunities, particularly in the Just Transition to net zero. Economy Secretary Kate Forbes says it provides renewed clarity on Scotland’s economic vision and a relentless focus on delivery in order to improve economic productivity, accelerate growth and ensure work provides a genuine route out of poverty through better quality jobs and higher wages.

A sixth programme marks a step-change in the way the Scottish Government and business listen to, support and work with each other in this national endeavour to transform the economy. Shaped by the Advisory Council and extensive engagement with stakeholders, this will enable government, business and key partners to work together to create a more prosperous, more productive and more internationally competitive economy.

The Economy Secretary launched the Strategy at the Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc in Dundee, a location which embodies the potential transformation that can be realised by bringing the six key programmes of action together.

Ms Forbes said:

“This strategy intentionally focuses on five key priorities, within Scotland’s current powers, that we believe will deliver most impact. These are based on extensive data analysis which does not ignore the short or long term challenges and seeks to meet them head on. It does so by identifying our key strengths as a nation and the economic opportunities with the greatest potential for Scotland.  Through our detailed analytical work we have identified significant and targeted action that can shift the dial in these areas, by doubling down on the work that is producing results and by working together to maximise our success.

“We must now be bold, ruthless and laser-focused to maximise the impact of the actions we have identified.  We all know the challenges of our day – the short term and the long term – but through the tumultuous times of the past, Scotland has pioneered solutions, created jobs and established highly successful businesses. The opportunities of decarbonisation, new technologies and successful industries are far greater than the challenges.

“This is a unique moment and we are ready, willing and able to lead the way and ensure Scotland capitalises on the opportunity.”

Chief Executive Officer of Entrepreneurial Scotland Sean McGrath said:

“This strategy is recognition of not just the importance of starting new businesses, but of building an entrepreneurial mindset across all types of organisations and at all levels. It shows a huge belief in the ability of our immensely talented workforce in Scotland. It also calls on everyone who wants to see Scotland succeed to take part. This only works if we all want it to.”

Chief Executive of Energy Transition Zone Ltd Maggie McGinlay said: 

“I believe energy transition has a key role to play in realising this ambition. Scotland has an immediate competitive advantage in that we are blessed with a vast array of natural assets that, if harnessed the right way, means we can become globally recognised for high-value manufacturing, research, development and deployment of offshore wind, green hydrogen and carbon capture and storage. The scale of the energy transition opportunity before us is huge and has the potential to contribute significantly to achieving true economic transformation for Scotland.”


The Six Programmes targeted by the National Strategy for Economic Transformation are:

1. Entrepreneurial people and culture

  • we will create one of the most advanced entrepreneurial infrastructures in Europe by establishing a national system of pre-scaler hubs that will help stimulate the very earliest stages of high growth commercial and social entrepreneurship
  • through our education and skills system we will embed a culture in which entrepreneurship is encouraged, supported and celebrated, and where Scotland is recognised as one of the best countries in the world to start and to grow a business
  • attract international entrepreneurs to Scotland by rolling out an international marketing and engagement platform for Scotland’s start up scene
  • appoint a Chief Entrepreneurship Officer in the Scottish Government to work in partnership with industry and investors to drive forward our ambitions on entrepreneurship

2. New market opportunities

  • to build on the legacy of COP26 we will establish an investor panel, chaired by the First Minister, to grasp the opportunities of the Just Transition to net zero. This panel will be focused on attracting investment that supports the development of net zero industries and will bring new quality green jobs to Scotland
  • promote Scotland as an innovative test bed for new technologies and markets
  • provide capital investment to support renewable hydrogen production to make Scotland a leading nation in the production of reliable, competitive and sustainable hydrogen

3. Productive businesses and regions

  • we will work to improve productivity and address regional economic inequalities through actions such as setting up a Digital Productivity Fund to help businesses adopt new technologies
  • launch the Centre for Workplace Transformation to support experimentation in ways of working post-pandemic
  • appoint productivity ambassadors to promote understanding of how businesses can drive productivity improvements

4. Skilled workforce

  • to ensure Scotland has the skills needed to drive economic transformation we will embed access to entrepreneurial learning in schools and colleges. Focusing on the transition to net zero, the digital revolution, and lifelong training, we will make sure employers have the supply of skills they need by developing a National Digital Academy
  • as well as providing people with the skills they need to gain new opportunities, the strategy will help ensure new and current businesses are supported in investing in innovative ideas that could lead to new industries and quality jobs across the country

5. A fairer and more equal society

  • apply fair work conditionality to grants, requiring payment of real living wage, and channels for effective workers’ voice
  • deliver sectoral fair work agreements in areas of low pay, in partnership with industry and trades unions, that deliver payment of the real living wage, better security of work, and wider fair work first standards
  • support parents to increase their incomes from employment as part of cross-government action to deliver upon the ambitious targets set through the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017

6. A culture of delivery

  • restructure existing boards to create a new National Strategy for Economic Transformation Board co-chaired by the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Economy and a figure from the private sector, to include worker representatives
  • establish a programme to radically transform the way in which the public sector in Scotland provides support for workers and businesses
  • publish an annual progress report to enhance public accountability

Read the National Strategy for Economic Transformation

Read the Summary

Read the analysis paper

Read Ms Forbes’ speech from the launch event at Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc