20 November 2017
Update from the Scotland Director
CBI Scotland Director Hugh Aitken reflects on a month of conferences and consultations and looks ahead to the forthcoming Scottish and UK Budgets.
November is always a busy month for the CBI and this year was no different. As ever we kicked off with the CBI Annual Conference, held on this occassion at the fantastic Intercontinental Hotel at London’s O2. Annual Conference is always a great event and one that’s truly unique in being able to bring more than 1,000 business leaders from across the UK together in one place to discuss the key challenges facing industry. It’s also unique in being able to attract a roster of blockbuster speakers like the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and the US Commerce Secretary.
One of the highlights of this year’s conference was undoubtedly welcoming executives from some of the world’s most recognised brands to hear their thoughts on the challenges and opportunities presented by globalisation and automation. With speakers from Microsoft, Accenture, Twitter, BT, Aviva and Sainsbury’s, the audience were treated to some incredible insights and a real lesson in how big companies are dealing with global change.
The Annual Conference was swiftly followed by CBI Scotland’s third annual Cyber Security Conference, held at Edinburgh’s Our Dynamic Earth. Attended by over 200 delegates, and sponsored by the Royal Bank of Scotland, the event looked at how businesses can ensure they are cyber resilience ready as well as discussing how cyber security could be a growth sector for the Scottish economy moving forward.
As Chair of the Scottish Government’s National Cyber Resilience Leader’s Board, it was a pleasure to have the Deputy First Minister join us to announce the publication of the public sector cyber resilience plan. The Board has been working on the plan throughout the year with the aim of improving resilience across Scotland’s public sector by implementing common baseline cyber security protocols. Scotland has long been at the forefront of efforts to champion cyber resilience and I truly believe that we have the potential to be recognised as a world leader in the field of cyber security.
The CBI also joined forces with Founders4Schools for a fantastic event with Sir Tom Hunter looking at how business-education interactions could be improved to deliver better results for young people and employers. The event, hosted by Standard Life UK, focussed on how early exposure to the business environment can boost the education and employment prospects of young Scots. This has long been a priority for CBI Scotland – CBI members consistently tell us that more needs to be done to ensure our young people are workplace ready. Business involvement will be crucial to addressing this and to meeting Scotland’s skills and productivity challenges. I would encourage all businesses to get behind initiatives like Founders4Schools – when someone with the experience of Sir Tom Hunter tells us that Scotland has a skills problem and that these initiatives can help provide an answer, then we should all take notice.
On the political side, all eyes are on the upcoming Budgets with both the UK and Scottish Budgets now imminent. Last month we published our UK budget submission where we called on the Chancellor to prioritise measures that grow our way out of austerity. Later this month, CBI Scotland will publish its own submission to the Cabinet Secretary for Finance. With Scottish economic growth still fragile and uncertainty weighing on the outlook, it is crucial that the Scottish Government sends a strong signal that Scotland remains a great place to do business with a stable and competitive system of tax and regulation, alongside long-term commitments to strengthening skills, infrastructure and innovation. I met Derek Mackay earlier this month to reiterate these points and to stress how vital it is to Scotland’s economic future that businesses are able to attract and retain talent they need to succeed.
Though Christmas is on the horizon, work at CBI Scotland will continue over the next few weeks. I do hope you are able to join us for our Westminster reception at the Scotland Office in London on 6th December. If you are not yet signed up and would like to attend, please contact Colette Cunningham (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.