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The RSE Responds to Phase Two of the Review of the Enterprise & Skills Agencies

Posted: 16th March 2017

The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) has submitted a response to phase two of the Scottish Government’s Enterprise and Skills Agencies Review.

While wholeheartedly supporting the underlying aim of the Scottish Government to enhance Scotland’s economic performance and to improve its standing in international comparisons of performance indicators, the RSE does not feel that the abolition of the independent Boards of the Agencies under review–Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland and the Scottish Funding Council–will support this aim.

The RSE believes that significant changes to the structure and governance of the public sector infrastructure supporting enterprise and skills in Scotland should not proceed, but rather should be informed by a new Scottish Industrial and Innovation Strategy. This Strategy, the RSE states, should be specifically tailored to the Scottish environment and circumstances; taking into account all the opportunities, challenges and priorities specific to this country. Such a Strategy should also take into account the important current developments, such as the likely effects of the decision of the UK to leave the European Union and the role that the constituent bodies within UK Research and Innovation will play in supporting research and innovation in Scotland.

On issuing the response, Professor Iain Gray, RSE Vice President and Chair of the RSE’s Business Innovation Forum commented:

“It is not clear that the Scottish Government’s proposed structural and governance changes will achieve better alignment across the Enterprise and Skills Agencies. Greater integration of the agendas and priorities across economic development, tertiary education and skills development would clearly benefit the Scottish economy, however, the creation of a centralised body with a complex and diverse remit is not likely to be helpful in meeting this objective.”

“In addition, the proposals outlined in the recent Crerar report on ‘Proposals on Governance and the Creation of a Strategic Board’ do not fundamentally address the concerns of the RSE, and the Society firmly believes that it is vital that a strong and independent SFC Board is retained.”

While there is continued uncertainty, the RSE advises that the Agencies should be allowed to replace key staff and extend the appointments of Board members due to retire to maintain good governance and operational effectiveness.

To read the full RSE advice paper, please click here.

Business Comment

Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
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