Speakers agree that Education is crucial to Scotland’s continued business success

Newgate Communications Scotland joined with leading business law firm, DVF Biggart Baillie, Glasgow to hold a debate on whether Scotland is still a good place to do business despite the economic slow-down and the uncertainty engineered by the independence referendum in 2014?

It was heartening that both our speakers, Iain McMillan, Director CBI Scotland and Stuart Patrick, Chief Executive Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, agreed that Scotland is still a good place to do business.

A recent Ernst & Young inward investment survey would support that proposition. Scotland was top in terms of the jobs created by inward investment when compared to other UK regions.

A large proportion of these jobs were from US inward investment.

Scottish Development International gives seven reasons why Scotland is such a good place for inward investment.

The number one reason is the education system.

Research has shown that Scottish cities are well above the European average when it comes to educational attainment. 40$ of Glasgow’s regional population have a degree equivalent compared to 38% in Amsterdam 38% and 30% in Lyon 30%.

So that’s what makes the difference in ensuring that Scotland remains a good place to do business. We do very well in Scotland in terms of higher education attainment but not well enough in terms of general educational achievement (numeracy/literacy performance is still low); take-up of STEM subjects isn’t good enough and careers advice needs to be improved. The tail of non-achievement must be addressed.

Concern about the performance at the lower end of the educational spectrum is highlighted by Scotland’s relatively high level of illiteracy compared to other developed countries. The 2007 report into the Scottish education system from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) stated:

“Who you are in Scotland matters more than what school you attend, so far as achievement differences on international tests are concerned.  Socio-economic status is the most important difference between individuals.”

Social deprivation in Scotland appears to be a larger factor in attainment than in similar countries, such as Wales.

The relationship between poverty, attainment and achievement is well-known. However, there is less understanding or consensus as to, “what works‟ in terms of interventions and strategies for raising attainment among children from deprived backgrounds. This is partly a result of the way in which educational research is currently conducted in Scotland. However, it is also a product of the shift from targeted to universal provision, both of which are perceived to have a key role to play in policy development. Initiatives that began with a specific focus on the most disadvantaged children living in the poorest areas of are often “rolled out‟ to all schools, and it is the children of the more affluent members of society that gain most.

Both speakers agreed that the Scottish Government must tackle this problem as a priority if Scotland is to remain a good place to do business.

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