Sturgeon steps in to save manufacturing after plant closures

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will today unveil a national drive to revive Scottish manufacturing after a spate of factory closures since the start of the year.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at Tata Steels Dalzell plate rolling works in Motherwell last October. Picture: Getty Images

A joint Centre of Excellence for Manufacturing and Skills Academy is to be announced by Ms Sturgeon with the aim of ensuring Scotland can remain a “sustainable and competitive” place in which to do business.

About 190,000 people work in manufacturing across Scotland making a range of products but it has suffered in recent years from the impact of cheaper overseas labour and imports.

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The future of steel manufacturing in Scotland – and about 270 jobs – still hangs in balance as a new owner is sought for the Tata plants in Cambuslang and Motherwell after the Indian firm decided to sell.

Hundreds of jobs have also been lost in the first few weeks of this year as Texas Instruments in Greenock, Polaroid Eyewear in West Dunbartonshire and Hawick Knitwear all announced closures.

The new action plan being unveiled today by Ms Sturgeon – entitled A Manufacturing Future for Scotland – will set out how ministers aim to increase investment in Scotland’s manufacturing sector in order that it can “compete globally.”

Ms Sturgeon will visit Glenhead Engineering in Clydebank to unveil the strategy.

“There should be no doubt about the importance of our manufacturing industry – which employs around 190,000 people in Scotland – to our future success,” she said.

“This plan will reaffirm our commitment to grow and invest in the sector and to ensure its long-term competitive future.

“We will outline ways to help businesses better access, exploit and keep pace with new technologies and opportunities, further support Scottish companies to achieve supply chain excellence, and promote innovation.

“These actions will enable the sector to improve productivity and business performance, providing a better long-term future and enabling it to compete internationally.”

Manufacturing in Scotland recorded its sharpest fall in new orders for four years, while its employment declined at the fastest pace since the start of 2011, a survey carried out last month by the Confederation of British Industry found.

The new Scottish Government initiative will include a drive to work with industries alongside univerities and colleges to stimulate innovation.