This item was published during the term of a previous administration that ended in April 2007
Extracts from a 'State of the Nation' address by Henry McLeish, Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning, to be delivered at a St Andrew's Day Reception at Parliament Hall, St Andrews tonight (November 30, 1999)
"My central theme tonight will be the need for all of us to embrace the challenges and opportunities presented by globalisation and the new technological revolution sweeping the world.
"My central message will be that to modernise Scotland - to win competitive advantage for the 21st century - to make real the promise of devolution - we must urgently embrace these challenges.
"It is an agenda that the nation must relentlessly prosecute. Put simply, we have modernised the constitution - the structures are in place - now we must revolutionise the Scottish economy.
"This generation - and those that will follow - are the beneficiaries of unprecedented flows of knowledge. Properly harnessed the next century can be a century of progress of social justice, of economic success and personal liberation for the people of Scotland.
"For only with the development, the nurturing of a truly modern economy can Scotland hope to satisfy the hopes, the aspirations, the desires of its citizens. Only sustained economic growth will deliver those opportunities for individual and collective advancement so crucial to the progress of civilised society.
"Unlike the industrial revolution which brought a mass urban poor, or the agricultural revolution that saw so many displaced from the land, the information revolution depends on the skills and talents of all our people. Social justice and economic success are reconciled by embracing new technology and building a fairer society.
"Simply put, if Scotland's people are denied the opportunity to learn throughout life then we all will suffer.
"Scotland must develop a truly Knowledge-based, Knowledge-driven economy.
"We will move beyond simple job creation to Knowledge creation.
"I should perhaps spell out our thinking in this regard:
"I do not mean that we should simply give up on the older industries that once dominated our economy - but I do mean we should seek to modernise and become more competitive across all industries.
"In other words, I am not just referring to the embodiment of knowledge in the high-tech sectors, important though this will be but I am referring to the more effective use and exploitation of all types of knowledge in all manner of economic activity.
"I mean that we should aim to be pacesetters, creating - and sustaining - our competitive advantage through the continual application of our greatest asset -the knowledge, skills and innovation of our people.
"And, as a corollary, we need a gear change in our culture away from trying to create or sustain jobs at any price or of any quality.
"This raises a very serious point. The process of modernisation means necessarily that there will be some transitional "losers" as well as "winners". This is inevitable. However, I can reassure you that we are fully aware of the need to ensure that the costs of transition are handled sensitively and positively. This is, rightly, an important objective of government policy. There are crucial roles here not only for the Scottish Executive, but also for the economic agencies and our other social partners.
"The essential foundations, the fundamental prerequisites for the development of a forward-looking, open, knowledge economy are, I would suggest threefold:
1. high levels of continuing participation in education, technical skills, and technological knowledge.
2. Widespread collaboration and partnership between universities and enterprise leading to greater commercial exploitation of 'useful knowledge'.
3. The creation of an entrepreneurial culture that encourages the growth of new businesses , changed attitudes to wealth creation and risk-taking.
"I say again: collaboration between academia and business is fundamental to the successful creation of a knowledge economy. Only in the practical application of the knowledge generated by our outstanding universities can we hope to generate a successful high-technology economy. Building on the model provided by Cadence and other emerging centres of excellence, such as aerospace at Prestwick and semiconductor research at Livingston, we will continue to encourage such partnership working. These centres represent best practice in partnership between companies, educational institutions and the public sector.
"We will be looking to identify further opportunities for developing such centres of excellence. At Gleneagles, where a ground-breaking centre of excellence in business is being developed. I am very confident that these plans will include the development of an Engineering Centre of Excellence at the Rosyth Europarc and I look forward to announcing more details on this next month."
News Release: SE1517/1999
30 Nov 1999