I am grateful to the Glasgow School for Business and Society at Glasgow Caledonian University for inviting me along to speak; my speech will focus on Opportunities for Scotland’s Economy. The School’s activities focus on the relationship between business and society, and the social context within which business is undertaken, so it’s a fitting environment for us discuss these issues of importance to Scotland’s economic prosperity and future.
Despite the ongoing challenges, there are positive indications that the recovery continues in Scotland. The most recent PMI survey indicated private sector growth for the 16th consecutive month and there have been improvements in the labour market – with unemployment falling and employment rising in the first quarter of 2012. May’s Bank of Scotland labour market barometer showed the 18th consecutive month of improvement, with the indicator at its highest level since May 2011 and Scotland once again outperforming the UK
However, Europe is a key trading partner for Scotland – nearly half of our international exports are destined for the continent – and while Scotland has much to gain from our relationship with Europe, we also have much to lose if the Euro Area crisis escalates. Through the deficiencies of the current constitutional arrangements, we are one step removed from the discussions shaping the future of the European Union.
We’ve made real progress in strengthening Scotland’s economy with our existing powers, and while the events in the Euro Area may act as a headwind to the global recovery, we must not to lose sight of how we can further strengthen our position to secure new jobs, opportunities and investment. Independence would allow the Scottish Government to tailor the full range of policy levers to ensure they reflect the needs and priorities of Scotland and promote sustainable economic growth in Scotland.
I look forward to exploring and discussing the many opportunities to grow Scotland’s economy when I deliver my lecture at Glasgow Caledonian University. The event will take place in the Deeprose Theatre, Govan Mbeki Building, from 3.30pm and you can register for tickets online.
For those who can’t make it to Glasgow, I will be hosting an online Q&A session for readers of this blog on Opportunities for Scotland’s Economy. You can put your questions to me on the challenges and opportunities for Scotland’s businesses in the comment box below and I will personally answer your questions live from 5.30pm on 11 June, after the speech.