Ross Martin: Making the Economic Weather...

As grey skies brood over Scotland this summer, Ross Martin says we must recapture the spirit of summer ’14 to build a sustainable, productive economy.


As the summer holiday period draws to a damp and disappointing close it is tempting to allow a depressed state to descend upon the workplace, where doom and gloom hover like the seemingly never ending cloud cover holding its grey and gloomy pall above us.

But hold on, remember this time last year, when optimism filled the air, with the bright and energetic sight and sound of Scotland competing on the international stage? The Glasgow Games, bathed in sunlight, were a tonic for all, lifting our collective spirit with each shiny medal hung in all its glistening glory around every successful Scots sporting star's neck.

How can we recreate that feeling of fulfilment and nurture that same competitive spirit to help us towards sustainable success, economically speaking? Is it possible to deliver the growth in our collective productivity on the same scale that our amazing athletes achieved with the whole country adding its heft to their wonderful individual efforts? 

What were the magic ingredients for the level of success we witnessed during those heady days of the "best Commonwealth Games ever"? Whether on the field of play, or creating the conditions for our sports stars to compete so effectively, how did "Team Scotland" focus our collective efforts quite so effectively, to deliver not only a great Games, but one that was so productive?

We recognised, like all successful organisations do, that it's our people that matter most of all. "People Make Glasgow" neatly encapsulated that understanding, acknowledging the fundamental fact that productivity, innovation and internationalisation - the three great challenges of our economy - can only be tackled by people, with the skills, the knowledge and the desire to do so. 

And as we consider the context for Scotland's push towards sustainable economic growth - the central policy aim of both the Scottish and UK Governments - we must develop our understanding of how we can best enable all of our people to engage in productive economic effort. 

In recognition of that, how we were "Engaging Civic Scotland", as expressed by the unprecedented sign up of 97% of the electorate to vote in the Independence Referendum, regardless of whether they intended to vote Yes or No, we must remove any and all barriers that get in their way to play their part in "Driving Economic Growth".

Whether it's putting in place modern infrastructure, shaping a flexible fiscal framework that encourages investment or designing an integrated, accessible, affordable childcare system that enables all parents, who choose to, to be fully productive, we must support their efforts to contribute to sustainable economic growth.

We may not be able to dictate the weather in order to save our summer here in Scotland this year, but we can create a climate to support sustainable economic growth. Let's, at least, do that and bring a smile to the face of Scotland's economy. 

Ross Martin is Chief Executive of the Scottish Council for Development and Industry, and former Policy Director of the Centre foScottish Public Policy. This article was first published on LinkedIn UK.

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