Scotland the Blog: Scotland Decides its destiny but going forward we need to work better together

Yesterday's vote has changed Scotland and Britain forever. I know many people who will be in despair and many who will be relieved. Going forward (an overused phrase but one in this case clearly appropriate),  I want to map out some of the issues which need to be addressed both in Scotland and the wider UK. CIPD has a major role to play in this emerging new Britain. Let's look in this first blog at Scotland.

80 per cent of Scotland voted a record high turnout. Glasgow's 76 per cent turnout was considered relatively low.  Only 5 districts voted yes, mostly de industrialised areas like Glasgow, Dundee, and parts of Lanarkshire and Dunbartonshire. The rest of Scotland voted decisively no. The fault lines describe the labour market situation. You could call it a prosperity and poverty parallel.  To the west we have pockets of high unemployment ringed by affluence, whilst areas like Edinburgh and Aberdeenshire have many good quality jobs and people with a stake in society. However, many in these areas also languish in idleness. The importance of skills and human capital has never been more apparent. Where people have those they can benefit from Scotland's prosperity, where they cannot, they are locked out.

For Scotland to be united it has to work better together in future. The young and poor who voted in large numbers need to be reconnected to the workforce. That means those of us in Scotland who make a good living, who have skills and human capital need to realise that's in jeopardy if other citizens do not feel they are part of it. Of course many who voted no were concerned about the real threat to jobs in financial services and defence. Those jobs will now continue to be part of Scotland's skilled future. We need them. We also need Scotland to work better together and the energy and commitment of the campaign needs to be harnessed to that purpose.

Working better together means building Scotland's skilled future and there is a lot we can do. Many of you will have heard me refer to Scotland's scalable and clubbable context. We can do things at an appropriate scale and it's easy to build networks which matter. 

Constitutional change is only one dimension of the change we need to make Scotland work better together. If our poverty/prosperity parallel continues to divide us we will be held back. With an ageing population we will lose skills and opportunity if we don't refresh our talent pool. Everyone can play their part and we in CIPD Scotland will be coming forward with a programme of policy and engagement to help it happen. We will be putting forward a workforce plan for Scotland, but in the meantime there is a lot we can do now:


  • Get involved as we launch our Steps Ahead mentoring programme helping young people to get into work. Let's also take the Wood Commission proposal to engage more apprentices. Let businesses who value the stability that the vote has brought use that space to plan in the next year to offer an opportunity to a young person. We can encourage our organisations to sign up to the invest in Youth IIY accolade for example.


  • Those stuck in despair locked out of the labour market by poor skills poor capability and sometimes poor wellbeing need to be re-engaged in productive work. As our leading industries set their investment plans lets think genuinely about how we can engage more of those people in work. Let's try and reserve places with training and development for such people. Many businesses do this but it needs new focus and commitment.


  • Let's try to improve how we work in Scotland so that with our new destiny mapped out we can start to take advantage of the opportunities on offer in growing world markets. That means we need to increase the productivity of our people through better learning and better leadership. We also need to involve more people in innovation and enterprise.


  • We need to apply our skills and ingenuity in crafting solutions to the wicked problems which face us such as the need to integrate health and social care, re-shape our public services and harness technology for the good.


  • Let's build on the solid foundations we have already to improve learning from preschool to pension age so that Scotland can benefit from all of those opportunities. STEM skills can be a big focus here given the amount of jobs which require them.


The HR profession is well placed to offer such practical solutions for a more productive and prosperous Scotland. Our key role in recruiting, developing, engaging and leading people and organisations has never been more important. Our engagement conference in Edinburgh on the 8th October is an example of how we are seeking to share the best practice for improving work and working lives.

We will be connecting with HR audiences and building partnerships with business and Scottish communities such as Steps Ahead and inspiring the future.  We will have a tough job but I know that however people voted, they know that when we work better together and build Scotland's skilled future we will be unstoppable.

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  • Anonymous

    Thanks for this article. What you say about businesses and organisations having a stake in how the country goes forward really struck a cord. Solutions to problems of youth disengagement and unemployment need to come from everyone- not just government, because we all live in this society and it is up to us all to seek solutions. Going the extra mile...even if it isn't the easier at option. Apprenticeships are a fantastic way of drawing more people into the labour market, or at least opening the door to it for them. This message needs to be spread as widely as possible and not just in Scotland.