Scotland business

Centre of excellence to support Scotland's manufacturing industry

Welder with sparks flying Image copyright Thinkstock

Plans to support Scotland's manufacturing sector - including the creation of a joint centre of excellence and skills academy - have been unveiled by the first minister.

Speaking ahead of the announcement, Nicola Sturgeon said the industry supports about 190,000 people.

She said the plan would reaffirm the government's commitment to growing and investing in the sector.

Industry and education institutions will be encouraged to work together.

The new centre will aim to stimulate innovation, improve productivity and increase investment in the Scottish manufacturing sector.

It is part of a wider programme promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects in school.

'Competitive future'

There has been concern over the state of the manufacturing sector and there have been some high profile closures. One of the most recent is the proposal to shut Tata's steel plants in Motherwell and Cambuslang.

The Scottish government said the centre would focus on working with companies to assess the benefits of new technologies and equipment and supporting their implementation among small and medium sized manufacturing groups.

Ms Sturgeon confirmed the plans during a visit to Glenhead Engineering in Clydebank on Monday.

She said: "There should be no doubt about the importance of our manufacturing industry - which employs around 190,000 people in Scotland - to our future success.

"This plan will reaffirm our commitment to grow and invest in the sector and to ensure its long-term competitive future. We will outline ways to help businesses better access, exploit and keep pace with new technologies and opportunities, further support Scottish companies to achieve supply chain excellence, and promote innovation.

"These actions will enable the sector to improve productivity and business performance, providing a better long-term future and enabling it to compete internationally."

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Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland, former chief economist for Lloyds Banking Group, Donald Macrae, said it was a welcome time for investment.

"Manufacturing had a fairly poor recession in comparison to, say services," he said.

"And in the latest quarter for which we have information, output from manufacturing actually fell in the quarter, and fell in the year. That is in contrast to what happened in services, so it is suffering."

Labour MSP Jackie Baillie said: "This is obviously a welcome step that has Scottish Labour's support.

"The best way to ensure a sustainable future for our manufacturing industry is to create a skilled work force through investment in education, but Nicola Sturgeon is also cutting hundreds of millions of pounds from education budgets.

"Faced with a choice between asking people to pay a bit more so we can use our powers to invest or cutting into our nation's future, we choose to use our powers. The SNP should back our plan so we can avoid the cuts."

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