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Lucie Mitchell

Sift Media

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

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Scottish independence will ‘put job creation first’

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Scotland could benefit from a major boost to jobs if it votes to leave the UK next month, the Scottish government has claimed.

The Scottish National party this week unveiled a 10-point jobs plan for an independent Scotland, stating that control of economic policy would allow the country to build on its strengths and create more “secure, stable and rewarding employment”.

Scottish finance secretary John Swinney said: “Independence is not a magic wand but the plan we have published shows how future governments of an independent Scotland could tailor economic policy to put job creation first and deliver a long-term employment boost.

“With the right policies in place we could achieve full employment – giving our businesses a competitive edge and incentives to create more and better jobs here in Scotland.”

The Scottish government claims that the jobs plan will:

  • Create an education and training environment, with a target of 30,000 modern apprenticeship starts per year by 2020
  • Provide tax incentives for companies to base their operations and headquarters in Scotland and create jobs, including a 3% cut in the headline corporation tax rate, which could boost employment by 27,000 jobs
  • Use employment policy to bring together employers and unions to boost workforce participation, skills and productivity. Boosting productivity by just 1% could create 21,000 jobs over the long term
  • Tailor policy to boost key job-creating sectors in which Scotland has an international comparative advantage
  • ‘Reindustrialise’ Scotland with a focus on strengthening manufacturing, promoting innovation and encouraging international trade and development;
  • Boost infrastructure and transport by establishing a rule which sets a minimum level for public sector capital spending as a percentage of GDP
  • Establish a Scottish Business Development Bank as part of a strategy to improve access to finance for growth companies
  • Using a new overseas network of 70-90 embassies dedicated to boosting Scottish international exports.
  • Increase opportunities for parents of young families to participate in the labour market by expanding childcare.
  • Tailor immigration policy to retain talented overseas students who want to contribute to the Scottish economy.

However, John Paul McHugh, assistant general secretary of Community Trade Union, stated that the plan has no credibility:

“The Nationalists don’t seem to understand that their campaign has zero credibility on the economy and jobs until they answer most basic question – what will our currency be?” he told the BBC.

“Until the Nationalists set out their Plan B on currency the people of Scotland cannot trust their assertion.”

A Treasury report, published today, has revealed that one in 10 – or 270,000 – jobs in Scotland are linked to trade with the UK.

The analysis, based on independent research by Strathclyde Business School, argued that a “borderless UK” is crucial to Scotland’s economic success and that a fully integrated single market is vital in securing jobs and livelihoods in Scotland.

“International evidence shows that a border significantly reduces trade between countries, eroding mutual prosperity and undermining jobs on both sides,” it said.

It also found that, of the jobs that directly benefit from the UK’s single market, more than 100,000 are held by women, and over one in three by those under 35 years-old.

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Lucie Mitchell

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

Read more from Lucie Mitchell