Scotland's Programme for Government (PFG) launched on the 3rd September, a day on which the business of Government looked more intractable than I can ever remember. PFG however is in stark contrast to Government elsewhere. It is a response to voices within Scotland and our recent experiences in the economy and society, but more importantly, it is forward looking and outward looking, drawing on the more enlightened global narratives about our planet's resource boundaries and concepts of social justice.
Increasingly there are voices questioning the sole pursuit of growth as a measure of a nation's success. There is a growing body of literature and evidence on the need for new ways of structuring and measuring economies, and PFG positions Scotland in the front running group of nations in that regard.
Looking at the PFG through a lens of Work-based Learning and the Future of Work, what are the opportunities and challenges in the coming years? We know that work is changing, there is a background fear about the devastating impact of automation on jobs, but in reality the historical evidence is that new previously unimagined jobs have vastly outnumbered those automated out of existence. Scotland has an opportunity, through the application of our fabled inventiveness and stubbornness to reshape our workforce for the better.
The individual initiatives and priorities laid out in PFG offer us a chance to create a stronger physical fabric to our society, which will be better for our citizens to live and work in, while also treading more lightly on our environment. The change will be driven by two forces, firstly a change in "system" characteristics such as investment mechanisms, green growth deals and transport infrastructure; secondly, specific initiatives such as the building of warm homes and schools and hospitals will bring opportunities for better conditions for users, and better work for the people building, operating and maintaining them.
The new Skills Action Plans for the Climate Emergency and the Circular Economy will help deliver training and employment which will be fair, sustainable and less prone to offshoring or automation. The commitments around tourism and exporting will also continue the change process in our relationship with the world.
Public Investment can be a game changer. I'm struck every time I see one of the dozens of Hydro energy schemes in Scotland that those investments in the 1950's gave us a huge boost in connecting and modernising the country, and we are today at a crossroads where we can invest and update our systems and people for the future, or follow the lowest common denominator policies to a divided and polluted future.