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Economic recovery plan
The Scottish Government recently published an updated Economic Recovery Plan.
Finance Secretary John Swinney said that tackling the pressures of unemployment and supporting innovation are key priorities for beating the current recession.
Speaking following a parliamentary debate on the economy, Mr Swinney said:
"Recent evidence suggests cautious optimism about our economic prospects is starting to emerge within Scotland's business community. This is against the backdrop of one of the deepest recession in the UK since records began.
"That is why it is crucial that our updated Economic Recovery Plan is as comprehensive as possible and shows that we have learned the lessons of past recessions.
"For example, while Scotland has lower unemployment and higher employment than the rest of the UK, we are taking swift and decisive action across the public sector to save jobs and protect our communities for the long term, ensuring they share fully in the benefits when economic growth returns.
"Just this morning the Education Secretary visited an energy business to announce a 2,000 pounds 'Golden Hello' for SMEs in the manufacturing, textiles, food and drink and energy sectors who take on a new 16-19 year old apprentice - helping our young people take their first steps into the world of work.
"Other measures such as accelerated capital spending are also maintaining employment - and the recovery plan is supporting some 15,000 jobs across Scotland. But vitally the plan is also helping those out of work get back into a job, through actions like key improvements to the Partnership for Continuing Employment (PACE)."
The Cabinet Secretary said the updated plan also emphasises support for innovation. Mr Swinney said:
"Again, lessons from previous recessions show that innovation activity can suffer in a downturn - yet new ideas and the ability to grasp new opportunities can drive both recovery and strong economic growth when the good times return.
"Meeting the challenges of climate change brings with it unprecedented opportunities. By supporting the development of a low carbon economy we can stimulate innovation, create business opportunities and provide thousands of green jobs.
"The Recovery Plan makes clear that Scottish Government, in particular through Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, is acting to create the kind of business environment in which innovation can flourish.
"The Funding Council's innovation voucher scheme, our new innovation framework and the work of business advisers through forums such as the expanded Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service are real examples of how we are making that happen."
ScotAction is an integrated package combining new and improved measures to help individuals and businesses through the recession and will provide skills assistance - including wage subsidies in some circumstances - for training for work, training in work and training from work to work to help Scottish people and businesses survive the downturn and thrive when the economy starts to recover.
PACE is the Scottish Government's national strategic partnership framework for responding to redundancy situations. It ensures that local public sector agencies respond to potential and proposed large-scale redundancies as quickly and effectively as possible. To ensure that all individuals at threat of redundancy receive support we have made a number of improvements to the PACE service: 80 Skills Development Scotland staff have been dedicated to work alongside Jobcentre Plus staff to deliver seamless services between skills development and employability; launched a national helpline, revamped website and improved information resources. Between January and August PACE assisted 234 organisations and 14,232 employees under threat of redundancy.
The Scottish Government's 'Adopt and Apprentice' scheme has helped 170 apprentices, who were made redundant, to complete their apprenticeships with another employer. And this morning it was announced that Small and Medium size businesses in the manufacturing, textiles, food and drink and energy sectors will be given a £2,000 financial incentive to take on a new apprentice.