A £70 million fund to support Scotland’s manufacturing industry has been announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon after a series of factory closures since the start of the year.
A strategy announced by the First Minister called A Manufacturing Future for Scotland sets out how the Scottish Government will work with industry, universities and colleges to boost investment and skills.
Industry and education institutions will be encouraged to work together through the initiative, which includes the launch of a joint centre of excellence and skills academy.
The move came as the future of steel manufacturing in Scotland – and about 270 jobs – still hangs in the balance as a new owner is sought for the Tata plants in Cambuslang and Motherwell after the Indian firm decided to sell up.
Hundreds of jobs have also been lost so far this year with Texas Instruments in Greenock, Polaroid Eyewear in West Dunbartonshire and Hawick Knitwear in the Borders all announcing closures.
Ms Sturgeon announced the funding, including £30m from the European Regional Development Fund, during a visit to Glenhead Engineering in Clydebank.
She said: “While manufacturing has undergone a significant transformation in recent decades, with increased globalisation and greater use of digital technology, it remains a high skills and high wage sector, with earnings that are above the Scottish average.”
John Park, of the Community union, which represents steelworkers, said the plan had to be part of a wider industrial strategy to secure a future for sectors such as steel. Mr Park said: “Unions have been calling for measures like this for the last seven or eight years and it’s important that government rhetoric is turned into real action to develop skills.”
Scottish Conservative enterprise spokesman Murdo Fraser added: “Their announcement today is welcome as far as it goes, but unlikely to be of much help given the damaging effects their other plans will have on the manufacturing industry and our economy.”