Scotland’s Skilled Future: Why Scotland’s workplace needs a strong constitution

I can’t say it doesn’t hurt watching the World Cup yet again without Scotland. But we have the commonwealth games were we will be hoping for a strong showing. After what we hope will be a momentous and ”well medalled” Commonwealth games in Glasgow, Scotland will make its biggest decision ever. We will decide whether or not we want to remain part of the UK. The constitutional issues are of course crucial to our future as citizens. But CIPD Scotland believes that the workplace has not had the profile it deserves, and even the workplace issue around the constitution have been ignored. We decided to fill the gap by providing the Scottish HR community with a perspective on what we are calling “Scotland’s Skilled Future”. Our take is that whatever happens our economy needs to work better, we need better skills and productivity if we are to build a dynamic export led economy. Having developed a draft paper we decided to share our ideas at three events in Scotland’s main cities Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. However before we looked at the skills picture we wanted to set the scene and provide the constitutional and employment law context with great input from our legal partners Brodie’s. In total about 150 HR professionals attended. We were given a compelling crib sheet from Charles Livingstone a senior public lawyer. He explained how the Scotland act of 2012 had already introduced the right to vary tax in Scotland through the Scottish Rate of Income tax (SRIT) Charles told us about the challenges around currency, EU membership, and pensions. He introduced us to the vexed questions of freedom of movement and border controls. He assured us that Scotland was unlikely to set up a border post at Carlisle. You could say it was Schengen without the shenanigans. (If you don’t know Schengen from shinola then you can find out when we roll out the webinar soon. Tony Hadden is employment law partner with Brodies and he outlined the nature of employment law within the context of the big debate. This is largely governed by UK statutes and interpreted on the basis of Scots civil law. He cogently explained the massive weight of EU statutes and the influence of human rights law. He alerted us to the potential use of legislation under the equalities act within the debate with people citing Discrimination on the grounds of “philosophical belief” This could mean that fractious yes/better together argument in the could end up in court. So without policing every discussion it’s as well to be aware that the potential exists and when you have organised political forces contesting such a big question, it could be used by someone. In Aberdeen we had Brodies Chairman and Public law partner Christine O’Neill explain brilliantly how when all of the continuing factors and possible extensions of devolution were taken into account, a yes or no vote might make little material difference!. That really got us thinking. Yes or no Scotland faces major challenges in and opportunities in the workplace in the The facts are well rehearsed among the policy wonks but little known in the public debate. If anyone is in any doubt professor Patricia Findlay of the Strathclyde University based Scottish Centre for Employment Research explained just what that challenge is; We’ll look at that perspective next week. Next week: Working the High Road?

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  • Agree wholeheartedly that regardless of the outcome of the yes/no vote, Scotland needs a strong workforce if it is to compete in the global market. 2 points: i) Scotland’s economic success should be measured on a wider scale than the ‘export-led’ economy model – we need to include the wider societal measures that bring wealth to a country including wellbeing. The Carnegie paper ‘Shifting the Dial: from wellbeing measure to policy practice’ which questions the adequacy of GDP as the primary indicator of the progress of societies is well worth a look. ii) Sector Skills Councils are in prime position to help support Scottish employers towards securing business growth and to help address the major challenges and opportunities in the workplace.

  • Anonymous

    Siobhan is absolutely right about well being and resilience and going beyond the usual  measures. That's why in our paper to be published In August we will be highlighting the need to manage Wellbeing at work as a key skills issue