Nicola Sturgeon: Scotland needs to be more equal to be more productive

Written by Jenni Davidson on 20 October 2017 in News

The First Minister will speak at a conference on inclusive growth in Glasgow today

Nicola Sturgeon - Image credit: Scottish Government

Scotland needs to be fairer and more equal society in order to become a more productive economy, Nicola Sturgeon will say as she speaks at a conference on inclusive growth in Glasgow.

Scotland’s Inclusive Growth Conference will bring together speakers and delegates from international organisations, foreign governments, local authorities and academia to discuss Scotland’s progress and what Scotland can learn from other countries and international experience.

Among those giving speeches are Gabriela Ramos, chief of staff of the OECD and sherpa to the G20; Per Bolund, minister for financial markets in the Swedish government; Dr Gerry Rice, communications director of the International Monetary Fund; and Alenka Smerkolj, the Slovenian minister for development, strategic projects and cohesion.

The First Minister will say that the Scottish Government’s focus on social policies and fair work will have a “significant” economic impact.

She is expected to say: “Scotland needs to use our vast potential to become a more productive economy.

“But we also need to become a fairer and more equal society. These two challenges are inter-connected. 

“Our revised economic strategy and our Programme for Government has inclusive growth at its heart.

“What that means is key social policies – such as our expansion of childcare and our work to raise attainment in schools – have a significant economic impact.

“That is why we are focussing on fair work, encouraging employers to boost productivity by investing in their workplace and paying the living wage.”

During the conference the First Minister will also announce that the consultancy and engineering firm Dougal Baillie has become the 400th company to sign up to the Scottish Business Pledge.

The pledge is a voluntary agreement by companies to positive business practices such as employing young people, promoting gender equality and paying the living wage.

However, Scottish Labour has criticised the pledge as a “PR exercise” since only 0.2 per cent of Scottish businesses have committed to it.

Scottish Labour Shadow Economy Secretary Jackie Baillie said: “Yet again with the SNP, there is no substance behind the spin.

“The Business Pledge is starting to look more like an exercise in PR than one in economic development. 
 
“New figures published this week show that the SNP has only convinced 0.2 per cent of Scottish businesses to sign up to this flagship scheme, with only 3.6 per cent of Scottish jobs covered by it.

“In traditional low wage sectors with insecure work, like hotels and the hospitality industry, not a single business has signed up.  
 
“With a third of hospitality workers under 25 this is simply a failure of the SNP government to stand up for younger workers.”

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