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BusinessScotland Scottish Chambers of Commerce Magazine

ISSUE 21

Navigating Covid-19’s choppy economic waters Recovery, Renewal, Renaissance Creating the right opportunities for young people

Scottish Chambers of Commerce

Scotland’s Businesses embrace the new Digital Age


BusinessScotland

CONTENTS

ISSUE 21

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44 NOVA SCOTIA OFFERS NEW HORIZONS FOR SCOTTISH BUSINESS LIZ CAMERON REAPPOINTED TO UK GOVERNMENT’S STRATEGIC TRADE ADVISORY GROUP IT’S TIME TO MOVE FORWARD TOGETHER EMPLOYER GRANT BOOSTS SUPPORT TO RECRUIT APPRENTICES

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A DIGITAL FUTURE FOR BUSINESS IN SCOTLAND FIFE BUSINESS AWARDS BRING A TUMULTUOUS YEAR IN FIFE TO A SPECTACULAR END THE REALLY USEFUL HR COMPANY REFLECTS ON 2020 AND IT’S CHANGES TO BUSINESSES ECONOMIC TURMOIL ACROSS OIL & GAS SECTOR

Scottish Chambers of Commerce Business Partners

Front cover image: Wellington Bridge, Aberdeen

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A DIFFERENT TAKE ON CYBER SECURITY FOR CHRISTMAS INVERCLYDE CHAMBER APPOINTS NEW CHIEF EXECUTIVE CALMAC PUTS MENTAL HEALTH ON THE AGENDA SOCIAL BITE LAUNCHES FESTIVAL OF KINDNESS


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FOREWORD

Championing the resilience of Scottish businesses As we continue to navigate our way through the coronavirus pandemic, it is my pleasure to showcase the outstanding resilience and innovation that our Chamber Network and partners have shown over the past year. Businesses across Scotland have been affected by the pandemic in one way or another – some have had to move their operations online and learn how to use new technologies overnight; others have had to set up office in their own homes while some businesses have had to furlough their employees and temporarily halt business operations. 2020 has been a year of adapting, learning and overcoming hurdles which no-one could have predicted in January, though as ever, Scottish businesses have proven they are up to the challenge. We start with a feature showcasing the Chamber Network’s new and improved digital skills - Lochaber Chamber of Commerce led TWO virtual trade missions to Nova Scotia, offering delegates the opportunity to participate in one-to-one business meetings with specially selected

contacts and learn about the realities of trading into Nova Scotia with informative market awareness briefings, specialist tax and law drop-ins, and business overviews. Ayrshire and Fife Chamber of Commerce have also taken their events online – Ayrshire Chamber hosted a virtual Business Week, with a panel of speakers, B2B exhibition and a cooking demonstration, in the place of their annual Gala dinner while Fife Chamber host their black-tie spectacular - Fife Business Awards online too. Elsewhere in the edition, Frank Mitchell, Chair of Skills Development Scotland highlights the importance of creating the right opportunities for young people, now more than ever while David Simpson, ScotRail’s Operations Director showcases ScotRail’s plan to keep Scotland moving over the winter period.

Tim Allan

President, Scottish Chambers of Commerce 2020 is a year that’s not likely to be forgotten – let’s remember it as the year which Business stepped up and let’s look ahead to a prosperous new year. Your local Chamber is here to support your business. If you need any support, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our Chamber Experts across Scotland. Contact details on page 76.

Featured Stories and Contributors Dr Liz Cameron OBE

Frank Mitchell

Lindsay McGranaghan

David Simpson

Sheena Doyle

Jason George

Neil Francis

Frank Gormanley

Eilidh MacDonald

Director & Chief Executive, Scottish Chambers of Commerce

Operations Director, ScotRail

Director of Global Trade, Scottish Enterprise

Chair, Skills Development Scotland

The Really Useful HR Company

President, Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce

Vice President, CGI in Scotland

Head of Business Development, Columbus UK

Lochaber Chamber of Commerce

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VIRTUAL TRADE MISSION

Nova Scotia offers new horizons for Scottish business Lochaber Chamber of Commerce shares their experience of leading their first virtual trade missions to Nova Scotia. What do you picture when you think of an international trade mission? People in smart business outfits milling around at a networking event? Visits to meet prospective clients in unfamiliar cities in unfamiliar countries? A week away from your business and family? Costs of flights and accommodation? Well, it wasn’t how we planned it; but necessity is the mother of invention and like many other Chambers across the network, our planned Trade Mission to Nova Scotia in Canada rapidly transformed into our first ever ‘Virtual Trade Mission to Nova Scotia’! The word ‘pivot’ must be one of the most suddenly overused of 2020 – but that’s exactly what we did in order to ensure that the trade mission could still go ahead to help our delegates explore new opportunities and make connections in a new international market. Without even leaving their house! It can be daunting for an individual business to try to find the right contacts independently

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– being part of a mission and getting specialist help makes it all so much easier for businesses. The Lochaber Chamber team identified potential business connections for our Scottish delegates, allowing them to explore new business opportunities and make those all-important personal connections that will hopefully prove beneficial to them and to the businesses in Nova Scotia. The connections between Nova Scotia and Scotland run deep, and this cultural and social current across the Atlantic gives us something a little bit special when building new business connections to benefit both countries. But these connections aren’t just about the past – Nova Scotia has a vibrant economy across a range of sectors and is the gateway to Atlantic Canada and beyond, with huge opportunities for Scottish companies. Such was the demand from Scottish businesses to visit Nova Scotia virtually that Lochaber Chamber of Commerce has now run two virtual trade missions to Nova Scotia over September and November, with 8 businesses taking part in the first trip and 11 joining us for the November mission. Eilidh MacDonald, of Lochaber Chamber of Commerce, who planned and led the Nova Scotia virtual trade missions, found the

change to hosting the events virtually opened up a whole new range of opportunities for the wide variety of Scottish businesses who signed up: “I would say that the virtual aspect of the trade mission was really positive – it gave people a lot more flexibility in the timing of one-to-one business meetings and allowed companies to connect with businesses over a much larger area of the province.” As Eilidh says, “Running two trade missions gave us more time to get to know our key contacts and these relationships helped us to put together a great programme for the delegates. Forging these connections with the business community in different parts of Nova Scotia will also make it a lot easier to plan a really great ‘in person’ mission in summer 2021.” Lochaber Chamber was delighted that the delegates on the virtual mission were welcomed along by Honourable Geoff MacLellan, Minister of Business in Nova Scotia and Catriona Little, Head of the Scottish Government in Canada. Honourable Suzanne Lohnes-Croft, Minister of Community Culture and Heritage also joined us for the Market Awareness session and gave a valuable insight into Canadian culture.


VIRTUAL TRADE MISSION

The delegates on both missions were drawn from a wide variety of businesses throughout Scotland – from gin and whisky distilleries, technology, life sciences and energy companies to skin care, a specialist watchmaker and even a company that makes robotic falcons for bird pest control.

We were really pleased to secure the kind co-operation of staff teams from Nova Scotia Intergovernmental Affairs, Nova Scotia Business Incorporation, Cape Breton Chamber of Commerce, Cape Breton Partnership, Halifax Chamber of Commerce, and Halifax Partnership, who were all incredibly helpful and generous with their time in helping us arrange the best targeted B2B meetings for our delegates. Over the course of the week-long mission, the delegates took part in a minimum of six one-to-one virtual business meetings with specially selected contacts and learned about the realities of trading into Nova Scotia with informative market awareness briefings, specialist tax and law drop-ins, and business overviews.

Establishing the needs of such varied groups of delegates and identifying suitable connections in Nova Scotia took a lot of work and we’ve benefited from the expertise of both our contacts in Nova Scotia and of our trade advisor, Allan Hogarth of AH Strategies who helped us hugely in making connections. So, what are our top tips for making the most of joining a virtual trade mission? Eilidh advises delegates to get stuck into all aspects of the programme: “We know it can be hard to make time to join zoom calls when you’re busy running your business but do try to join in with the group events as much as you can. This really does help to make connections, giving you valuable information about trading in the country you’re visiting and a feel for the culture. It also helps you to get to know others on the trip and key contacts from the business and governmental agencies in Nova Scotia.” Lynne Hunter, Director of Glasgow-based technology company Scotapps (a progressive

web app development company) joined our November virtual trade mission and found the experience extremely worthwhile. “The virtual trade mission completely exceeded my expectations – I went in thinking I would establish some good foundations for future opportunities but that it would just be the first step in a long process. However, through the business meetings I didn’t just make immediate business relationships, I actually changed my whole business model for trading into Canada and have now recruited two agents to sell my products in the Canadian market! If you’re thinking about trying a virtual mission, I would definitely say to go for it. You never know where it will take you!” All of the 19 companies who visited Nova Scotia virtually on the missions have seen positive results from the experience and we’re excited to hear more about the companies’ progress in the future. Lochaber Chamber is planning an in-person trade mission to Nova Scotia in June 2021 and we look forward to taking many of our virtual delegates out to Canada for real! If you’re interested in exploring international trade opportunities for your business, have a look at the range of different virtual trade missions on offer at www.exporthubscotland.com.

I would say that the virtual aspect of the trade mission was really positive – it gave people a lot more flexibility in the timing of one-to-one business meetings and allowed companies to connect with businesses over a much larger area of the province. Eilidh MacDonald, Lochaber Chamber of Commerce Business Scotland

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OPINION BY DR LIZ CAMERON

Liz Cameron reappointed to UK Government’s Strategic Trade Advisory Group Dr Liz Cameron OBE, chief executive and Director of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce has been re-appointed as the Scottish Business representative to advise the UK Government on strategic trade policy issues, including future trade agreements.

By Dr Liz Cameron OBE

Chief Executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce SCC’s participation in the group reflects its commitment to global trade and to boosting exports of Scotland’s globally-renowned products and services.

The Strategic Trade Advisory Group (STAG) will be chaired by the UK Government’s Minister for Trade Policy, Department for International Trade.

Working closely and listening to the needs of business will give the UK Government the intelligence it needs to secure the best trade deals.

Commenting on her reappointment, Liz said: “Exporting and international trade is a priority for Scottish businesses which will underpin Scotland’s economic growth for decades to come.

Ms Cameron also said: “Scottish Chambers of Commerce and our members stand ready to champion Scotland’s worldleading, high quality products and services and strike new trade deals with partners across the world.”

Scottish Chambers of Commerce and our members stand ready to champion Scotland’s world-leading, high quality products and services and strike new trade deals with partners across the world. Dr Liz Cameron OBE, Chief Executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce Business Scotland

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INTERNATIONAL TRADE

SCC hosts virtual trade missions to Shandong & Inner Mongolia Over the last few weeks, Scottish Chambers of Commerce have hosted virtual trade missions to Shandong and Inner Mongolia. Both missions, which took place in November 2020, introduced Scottish businesses to the main socio-economic profile of the regions, giving them a feel for the culture and highlighting the opportunities for business to business trade. Scottish Businesses who signed up for these virtual missions had the chance to hear from Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation, Ivan McKee MSP, Consul General of China in Edinburgh, Ma Qiang, Founder of UK Inner Mongolia Business Association, Richard Lu, and Vice Governor of Shandong, Madam Ren Airong.

Following these conferences, SCC have been working with businesses in Scotland and China and identifying suitable matches between both regions based on each business’ objectives. The missions have built on our existing strong business relationships and our trade missions are open to any business based in Scotland - not only Chamber members.

Government to boost Scotland’s exporting performance. As part of our partnership, the Chamber Network in Scotland is expanding its international trade services and direct support to the Scottish business community and as a result are developing a range of Trade Missions for Scottish companies including visits to China, Spain and USA.

Our intention is to follow the virtual missions up with trade missions in 2021 when travel restrictions are lifted.

If you’re looking to learn more about exporting, access new markets and are ready to take your product/service out to international markets, get in touch today via Ros.Wardley-Smith@scottishchambers.org.uk

Scottish Chambers of Commerce Network is working in partnership with the Scottish

For more information on our trade missions visit: www.exporthubscotland.com

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OPINION

A New Year Message

By Dr Liz Cameron OBE

Chief Executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce

As the old year closes and the new one dawns there is both unease and yet a sense of hope and purpose. Unease because we are, for all intents and purposes, back at square one in our fight against the spread of the virus, with lockdowns continuing to extinguish businesses and jobs. Hope because, even though a fast-spreading mutation of the virus is taking a toll, vaccines have been developed quickly and are being deployed to wipe it out, offering the promise that we can once again return to a more normal way of life. Purpose, because this last year has fundamentally changed our approach and taught us to appreciate what matters most to us. Given the chance to rebuild, there is a stronger will to build back better so that there is opportunity for all as we

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focus the transition to a low-carbon future. But first we must overcome some hurdles. The negotiations over our future relationship with the European Union went to the last minute and details remain sketchy. Now the brinkmanship is over, the government must set out the detail of what it means to continue to trade with our EU partners and what it will take to access opportunities in new markets. And wherever there is detriment or difficulty caused by these new arrangements, the government must move swiftly and decisively with support and guidance to overcome them. This year – if all goes to plan – there will be an election which will welcome both old and new members to the Scottish Parliament. What we need is for these members to provide the leadership Scotland deserves. We will renew our invitation to all of them – come, sit down together with us and plan what our future might look like. Scotland’s 30 chambers of commerce are ready to work with those who work with us. We must negotiate this next difficult phase

of the pandemic together. Government at all levels need to renew their commitment to reopening the economy as well as keeping us all safe from the threat of the virus. As soon as data is available, our leaders must set out when businesses can be expected to return to trading so that they can once again have the confidence to invest. As we embark on this new year with all its threats, businesses will also need to see a comprehensive package of support and stimulus, one that will ensure businesses can preserve as many jobs as is possible. Businesses need meaningful not piecemeal plans that ensure cash gets to where it is needed immediately. We also need our political leaders to play an active part in shaping a vision for the economy and jobs like we have never seen before. Our city and town centres face a cataclysm as retail, hospitality and tourism industries which have been hit hardest by Covid-19 lockdowns falter and office workers stay home. Overcoming this will take commitment beyond any fine words about a “green jobs revolution” and such. We need a laser-like focus on skills


OPINION

development as well as the infrastructure industry needs to thrive and which gives them the confidence to invest. Businesses that have got to the end of 2020 have shown a resilience and tenacity that demonstrates why they deserve support and belief they will continue to thrive. They have rolled with the punches and adapted.

Keeping them afloat now means, when the time comes, they can bounce back to deliver investment and jobs and the ability to rebuild our communities and our economy. This must be our focus and our hope for 2021.

business even more effective. If you can all reach out and encourage each other, we can deliver on expanding into new markets, driving digital innovation and providing skilled jobs now and in the future.

My ask to all of the business community – small and large – please help one another. A stronger, more collaborative approach will make the essential task of running a

If we get it right, there is some real hope that this year can deliver the recovery we need to ensure that both health and prosperity make a strong comeback.

Businesses that have got to the end of 2020 have shown a resilience and tenacity that demonstrates why they deserve support and belief they will continue to thrive. They have rolled with the punches and adapted. Keeping them afloat now means, when the time comes, they can bounce back to deliver investment and jobs and the ability to rebuild our communities and our economy. This must be our focus and our hope for 2021. Dr Liz Cameron OBE, Chief Executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce

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CHAMBER NETWORK NEWS

Reflections from Ayrshire Ayrshire Chamber are just like so many of you. We thrive on being out and about, interacting with and supporting our members and local businesses in any way we can. As a small business ourselves, facing the many challenges of 2020 has meant a shift in our behaviour and the necessity to embrace what is now termed ‘the new normal’. Working from homes across Ayrshire, the Chamber team has invested in and embraced new technologies, even managing to host a virtual Business Week. This did not come naturally and looking back through the past 12 years of Business Weeks while planning to deliver virtual events direct to businesses screens instead left us feeling very nostalgic. The week launched on 5th October with a Zoom conference FORWARD TOGETHER - A DIGITAL AGENDA FOR RECOVERY supported by speakers from Ayrshire College and Chamber President, Frank Gormanley. On 6th October Liam Smyth from the British Chambers of Commerce delivered an update on what businesses can expect for International Trade once the current EU transition period ends on 31st December 2020. The B2B exhibition was successfully delivered online by working with The Events Hub and in partnership with principal sponsor, Business Gateway. This event included networking, workshops and the always popular “Stay Connected” B2B exhibition held on 7th October via the event platform OnAir.

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On Thursday, a lovely lunch would usually be shared in one of our fantastic Ayrshire venues. This year participants had to bring their own to join a panel of speakers from Investing Women and AccelerateHER, hearing about the fantastic journey Findra embarked on when sourcing investment to grow her business. Business Week would normally conclude with a Gala Dinner to celebrate the Ayrshire Business Awards. Currently on hold, the awards will hopefully be possible at a later date. Instead a celebration of local Ayrshire produce was enjoyed with a virtual cooking demonstration from Simply Simon, cheeses from Dunlop Dairy and a Taste of Arran, wines from Corney & Barrow and excellent conversation from the Ayrshire Food Network. Brian Wade, Wades – Print That Works said “The Wades team were pleased to join fellow Ayrshire Chamber members in successfully exhibiting our Creative Graphic Design and Printing Services online at the first ever virtual Stay Connected Ayrshire business exhibition. The online platform organised by Ruby Sweeney of The Events Hub allowed us to have face to face video meetings, attend workshops, send direct messages

to attendees and easily share information on our print products. A great opportunity at this time when traditional business exhibitions are not allowed. We will definitely win new business due to being involved in the event” Val Russell, CEO Ayrshire Chamber said “We were both nervous and excited to bring Business Week to you this year instead of the other way around. We are all having to find new ways of working and we would like to thank all those who took the plunge with us and embraced the technology. It is often said that every day is a school day and we are all certainly having to learn quickly.” Looking ahead, we have a Buy Ayrshire campaign with a special Christmas shopping brochure to encourage local trade and are pleased to also support Scotland Loves Local. Look out for the special offers on our website at www.ayrshire-chamber.org On to the New Year, who knows what awaits us around the corner but rest assured, you will not face it alone. Although the office remains closed, for more information on how Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce can help support your business, please contact us via email at enquiries@ayrshire-chamber.org


CLANCY CONSULTING

A national player, keeping it local At the helm of Clancy Consulting’s Scottish offices, directors Neil Orrock and Neil Robson reflect upon the fine balance of ‘keeping it local’ whilst operating within a nationwide multi-disciplinary engineering practice leading some of the UK’s most specialist projects. Who could have predicted the year to date? With phenomenal change taking place the team at Clancy has been ‘riding the wave’ on the back of a rather circumspect construction industry, whilst also futureproofing business strategy in anticipation of market uncertainly during the coming months ahead. But at a time when others in the built environment sector are consolidating, what has been the secret to maintaining a strong pipeline of projects, a growing workforce and preserving morale over the last nine months? In the last 12 months Clancy’s Glasgow and Prestwick offices have been bolstered by strong local leadership whilst maintaining a keen focus on its core services; this, sat within the context of a wider support network of eight additional offices throughout England. Across the business a full spectrum of professional services are offered at Clancy, including Civil & Structural Engineering, Mechanical & Electrical Building Services, Geo-Environmental Appraisals, Highways and many associated disciplines, with approaching 200 skilled providers. Although Clancy is nearing its 50-year celebrations, the Scottish offices were acquired from Hodgins Smith Partnership back in 2010; a strategic decision based on the complement of dedicated personnel and key client relationships, which are still maintained to this very day. Neil Orrock, Director based in Prestwick commented, “We’ve a great number of clients who we’ve known for years; relationships which have been built upon a culture of integrity, respect and trust. We pride ourselves on being engineers without egos! You could say that this is very much reflective in the way we work and showcased in our long-term framework appointments. Bringing technical engineering solutions to the table, but in a way that sits collaboratively and aligned with the wider project team for the most successful project outcome.” The business certainly isn’t one for standing still. Relocation to a new Glasgow office in February this year now offers larger premises on St Vincent Street for an expanding team. Notwithstanding homeworking due to Covid-safe protocols, the new office space in the city centre has already provided a real statement of commitment which continues the success story of sustainable growth.

Strengthening the team has also resulted in strategic appointments with Neil Robson’s promotion to Director of MEP in April 2019 and Robert Bisset taking the role of Divisional Director for the Civil & Structural team in Glasgow. More recently Gary Stephen has been welcomed onboard as Civil & Structural Associate, after spending a good number of years at Arup.

with the UKs largest Carbon Capture and Utilisation plant – these are all groundbreaking elements within our existing schemes across the business. We’re fortunate to be able to draw on collective skill-sets across all offices which enables real specialist knowledge and bespoke technical solutions being brought to our clients.”

With flagship schemes such as 6 Atlantic Quay, Helensburgh Waterfront leisure complex, KPMG’s Edinburgh HQ and Wyndford Energy Centre in the portfolio, plus much in-demand housing developments from many sources, including South Ayrshire Council, North Ayrshire Council and Cunninghame Housing Association the Scottish offices work on a mix of private and public sector schemes which, in the current climate, has assisted with workload remaining constant.

So, what’s next for Clancy? What lies ahead, particularly given widespread changes over the last nine months (and the coming months), will inevitably be accelerated change. Neil Orrock concludes: “Our commitment to continued growth, providing the platform for individuals to flourish and maintaining a local approach within the backdrop of the national presence remains our objective. Armed with the total commitment of our brilliant team and support of our longstanding industry colleagues and supportive client base, we are perfectly poised to continue the journey. We will however pause briefly to raise a glass or two to celebrate our 50th anniversary in 2022. Hopefully, you can join us with that.”

Neil Robson, Director based in Glasgow stated, “The fantastic response to the current crisis from the whole of Team Clancy across the UK has been astounding. We very much recognise that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. In fact, the only consistent in the business is our ethos and cultural DNA, of which we are incredibly proud. Our clients know we’ll collectively work together to develop design solutions; for us it’s all about teamworking and servicing our local networks.” Neil continues, “With one eye on current projects, we also keep the other eye firmly fixed on the future in terms of latest industry thinking. Trialling ground-breaking mixed reality holographic technology in the construction process, embodied carbon analysis on large regeneration developments, and supporting the Government’s Clean Growth Strategy

We value our working relationships more than anything so please get in touch for further information about the services offered by Clancy: Neil Orrock, Director (Prestwick) neil.orrock@clancy.co.uk Neil Robson, Director (Glasgow) neil.robson@clancy.co.uk www.clancy.co.uk

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A NEW SOUTH OF SCOTLAND HOME FOR CO-INNOVATION AND COLLABORATION As we transition through the current pandemic and into the new world, The Crichton Trust remains focused on protecting the wellbeing of its people, the place and its partners and in creating a healthier and more sustainable future for all. The Trust has a strong vision and ambitious plans to make The Crichton a worldrenowned place for inspiring people, catalysing connection and collaboration, and as a driver of innovation. As part of its plans to enable change and facilitate collaboration, the South of Scotland will soon become home to a new stateof-the-art co-working and collaboration space at The Crichton in Dumfries. The Crichton, an 85-acre parkland estate, is already home to 80+ business, third sector and academic tenants and partners and has stunning grounds and gardens, one of the largest auditoriums in the South of Scotland, a hotel, business park, college and university campus, bistro, spa, bar, church, farm, dairy centre and nearby golf course. It is a beautiful historic estate with iconic sandstone buildings and is perhaps better known as a former psychiatric hospital. The Crichton Trust and partners have ambitious plans to make The Crichton a centre for learning and rural business innovation and the new Crichton Central facility will become an important terminus and interchange for ideas and a central station for collaboration and innovation at The Crichton. Crichton Central will be intergenerational and accessible co-working space in the stunning grounds of The Crichton. It will offer flexible meeting spaces and offices, an events and performance space and a modern café and shop. It will also boast electric charging points and will be heated from the waste generated on site and from The Crichton Royal Dairy Farm. It will also be the first co-working business centre in Scotland to have a Changing Places toilet and shower.

Work to transform the existing Criffel View building into Crichton Central is now underway and is being financially supported by the Scottish Government through a substantial grant from the South of Scotland Enterprise (formerly the South of Scotland Economic Partnership). Gwilym Gibbons, Chief Executive of The Crichton Trust, said: “We saw an opportunity for a centre for knowledge exchange that could build on and celebrate the community we have become and help us develop and grow further into the community we want to be. Conveniently located between the academic campus and the business park at The Crichton, Criffel View is the perfect place for informal knowledge exchange between business and academia. It is a beautiful building full of character and history. I am even more confident that Crichton Central will be a great asset to the South of Scotland as we respond to the ongoing challenges of Covid-19. Arguably we have never understood more fully what we miss and don’t miss about the traditional office or the importance of connecting with others. With more people working from home, the demand for flexible and affordable collaborative working space is predicted to rise and as digital connectivity improves, we are less limited by our geographic location – we can live and work in inspirational and physically remote places. Crichton Central will offer a place to encounter and connect with others. It will offer a home from home, with gigabit connectivity, a range of business support services and access to advice and investors. I believe Crichton Central will become a destination of choice for mobile workers, researchers, freelancers, entrepreneurs and innovative thinkers and I can’t wait to welcome them all to the South of Scotland.” Crichton Central is scheduled to open early in 2021.

central@crichton.co.uk #The Crichton | #Aplacetobreathe | #Buildbackbetter

www.crichton.co.uk


BUSINESS PARTNER SPOTLIGHT

CGI framework identifies three key capabilities that businesses must adopt to navigate COVID-19’s choppy economic waters Agility derives from the Latin word ‘ago’, a movement of the self that drives the movement of others. It is a synonym for leadership, having the ability and foresight to spot problems as they venture over the horizon, and adapt quickly and effectively to minimise their impact. When it comes to business, and how business deals with the COVID-19 pandemic, the ability to show ‘ago’ is needed more than ever so organisations not only survive but flourish in the future. According to George D Schindler, President and CEO of global IT and business consulting services company CGI, organisations need to respond, rebound and reinvent. These three words are the cornerstone of a wide-ranging white paper published recently by Schindler. In it, he identifies business agility as one of three key organisational capabilities that company directors and CEOs must take on board as they deal with the economic fallout caused by the worst health crisis in over 100 years. Schindler says: “Organisations will continue to embrace new ways of working to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic. Among commercial executives, business agility is the third most important business priority this year. Yet only 18% report their business is highly agile. “CGI research indicates that those organisations with high business agility outperform their peers by a factor of two to three times in terms of revenue and profitable growth.” This research Schindler cites is from CGI Client Global Insights, an annual consultative conversation where CGI leaders meet with business and IT executives around the world to gather their perspectives on the trends affecting their organisations. CGI conducted 1,500 consultations before and during the pandemic to discover what capabilities leaders need to chart a path through the choppy waters of the pandemic. As well as mastering business agility, they pinpointed rethinking the technology supply chain and enabling the future of work – such as encouraging interest in STEM subjects and continual skills development for staff – ­ as the other vital commodities. Fundamental to all three is technology and the opportunities it provides for swift change and flexibility. One example Schindler points to is retail, where online businesses have experienced a surge in demand during COVID-19, while the High Street has faced a dramatic slowdown, and enforced shutdowns.

George Schindler, President and CEO of global IT and business consulting services at CGI

Lindsay McGranaghan, Vice President of CGI in Scotland

Lindsay McGranaghan, vice-president of CGI in Scotland, wants fellow Scottish-based businesses to take advantage of the insights outlined in Schindler’s report.

88% of executives admitted they are yet to see results from their own enterprise digital strategies.

She said: “Everyone agrees that 2021 will be the year where we need to rebuild our economy. That is why the agility of businesses to adapt and change is vital. To achieve this, leaders must invest in their work cultures, their operating models and also their technology. “As well as that investment, they must spend time evaluating and adjusting them to cope with the constantly changing demands on their organisations that a health crisis like COVID-19 will bring. “If they are willing to enable the latest technological developments to assist their strategies, embrace innovation and automation, and adopt alternative distribution chains, they can gain the resilience they need to thrive in our ‘new normal’.” According to Schindler, COVID-19 has “highlighted the importance of the technology supply chain to pivot to new realities with agility and elasticity, and to build more resilience into how organisations deliver their products and services”.

McGranaghan highlighted the success of new digital tools requires “efficient management and training to integrate them into the work environment”. She said: “Already the digital revolution has seen fascinating new business models that are helping industry leaders focus on service to clients in a much more focused way. This provides better outcomes for everyone.” Schindler points out that organisations will deal with the different phases of change caused by COVID-19 “at varying paces”. He added: “We refer to these phases as Respond, Rebound and Reinvent: Respond to address the immediate needs of operating during the crisis, Rebound to meet the tactical challenges associated with emerging from the crisis and addressing new business requirements, and Reinvent to reengineer operating models to enable new ways of interacting with customers and citizens postcrisis.

He added: “When asked to rank top innovation investments, executives cite modernisation, automation and robotics, and cloud technologies, which are the key elements of modern and resilient technology supply chains.”

“While many experts are making predictions on the future of industry and how to adapt, we at CGI believe it is more important than ever to focus on how to create value. We have demonstrated the ingenuity to help clients with how, particularly through mastering business agility, rethinking their vital technology supply chains, and enabling the future of work.”

Another new reality is the growing importance of good digital engagement with customers – something again highlighted in CGI’s Client Global Insights. Yet despite its importance,

Download the white paper at www.cgi-group.co.uk/en-gb/white-paper/ cgi3r/charting-path-forward-resilience-andadaptability

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CARERS SCOTLAND

Preparing your organisation for 2021 and beyond: Supporting carers in your workplace 2020 has been an unprecedented time for employers, with the sudden emergence of the Coronavirus pandemic creating a very challenging year for Scottish businesses. With a vaccine being rolled out across the country, employers and staff members alike are now keen to establish what the future of working life will look like in Scotland. At this time, employers may also have become increasingly aware of the growing number of people in work while caring for someone who may be older, frail, ill or disabled. 2020 saw a massive increase in carers with in the number of people caring for friends, family or loved ones rising by almost 400,000 to a current estimated total of 1.1 million. Having staff members on your team with caring responsibilities is already more common than many employers realise and this issue is only going to increase as we move into the future. Managing these roles has always been challenging, and the pandemic certainly highlighted this for many people. Working carers have had the additional concern of caring for people who may be vulnerable, or shielding. Many care services have been withdrawn causing their caring demands to intensify, while the social aspects of their life away from caring have diminished, contributing to feelings of isolation. However, the sudden necessity to adapt to different working models has also brought about new opportunities. For a long time we have recognised flexible styles of working as something that can be hugely beneficial for all staff members, but particularly those juggling caring responsibilities with work. The right to request flexible working has been

strengthened in statutory terms in recent years and therefore has become more common, however prior to 2020, many employers still had reservations about the practical challenges of utilising flexible and home working. The Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown restrictions saw a sudden and drastic change in this, with many organisations forced to act quickly to enable remote and flexible working in order to continue operations.

HES is delighted to be recognised as a Carer Positive employer. We are committed to supporting working carers within HES and we will continue to develop our wellbeing support and services to carers within our organisation. Angie Hamilton, Head of Wellbeing at Historic Environment Scotland

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Lessons learned from 2020 The speed of the move to home working has been impressive, with staff members adapting quickly and gaining new skills to allow teams to collaborate remotely and meet work commitments in new ways. Furthermore, it has confirmed to employers that flexible working can be entirely viable and many employees have reported that this increased flexibility has enabled them to organise their working hours more effectively and productively. Embracing online communication platforms has perhaps been the revelation of 2020, bringing new opportunities to maintain and even widen existing networks. Attending meetings has become easier without the need to travel and new ways of connecting with staff has provided health and wellbeing support through innovative online outreach models. Despite these achievements, it is important to acknowledge that the adaption to remote working has not been without challenges and in many organisations it has not been possible for front-line staff, factory


CARERS SCOTLAND

workers and other employees. Additionally, transitions haven’t necessarily been smooth, with systems and technologies ill equipped to adapt and of course home wifi often being a recurring issue! The overwhelming message however is that home working works – the challenges that remain will continue to be ironed out in recognition of its growing potential, in conjunction with the possibility of more blended models of working as we look towards the future.

Looking Forward: 2021 and beyond Aside from the impact of Covid-19, the number of working carers has been rising in line with an ageing demographic and ageing workforce. Therefore, ensuring support for staff members who are carers is vital to help future-proof your organisation. As we begin 2021, we urge employers to be aware of the challenges faced by staff with caring responsibilities; to consider how they reach out and identify those employees, how to support them, and how this is reflected in workplace culture and policies. Some starting points might include: Identify and reconnect – some staff may be new to caring since the pandemic, while those who were known carers may have experienced changes to their circumstances. Communicate and raise awareness – many people don’t recognise themselves as ‘carers’ or are hesitant to raise the issue. Show them you understand and want to support them. Continue to explore new and different ways of working flexibly to reflect individual needs and circumstances. Look at existing workplace policies to ensure they represent carers and that there is clarity around what provision is in place. Care services may be disrupted for some time, so ensure that transitions back to the workplace recognise that some employees may continue to have increased caring responsibilities. At Carer Positive we work closely with employers across Scotland to help them develop supportive policies and practice. Organisations can also gain recognition as ‘Carer Positive Employers’ through our multi-level awards programme.

Becoming a Carer Positive Employer Carer Positive is a Scottish Government initiative, delivered by Carers Scotland. Participation is entirely free for Scottish organisations and provides access to expert advice, resources, testimonials and events where you can network with other like-minded employers. We exist to raise

Case Study: Historic Environment Scotland Over 200 organisations have been recognised as ‘Carer Positive Employers’ in Scotland. Most recently, Historic Environment Scotland with 1,400 employees was awarded in November 2020. HES has been increasingly aware of the challenges faced by employees who are carers, particularly highlighted during the Covid-19 pandemic, and has been keen to reach out to and support staff with caring responsibilities. Led by the organisation’s Wellbeing Team, and working closely with local carers centre VOCAL (Voices of Carers across Lothian), HES has developed a range of activities to encourage carers to identify themselves and seek support from line managers and the HES Wellbeing group. Flexible working options and monthly awareness campaigns also help signpost carers to relevant information and advice. Looking to the future, HES plan to launch a new Carers Policy, training for managers, and a staff Carers Network in 2021. Angie Hamilton, Head of Wellbeing at Historic Environment Scotland

awareness around working carers and to assist employers in creating and developing a supportive workplace for their staff members with caring responsibilities. Supportive employers can also apply for our multi-level award to be officially recognised as a Carer Positive Employer. Becoming recognised with a Carer Positive Award sends a strong supportive message to both existing and potential new staff, as well setting an excellent standard as an employer in Scotland. Our award scheme is recommended within the Scottish Business Pledge and linked in the Scottish

commented: “HES is delighted to be recognised as a Carer Positive employer. We are committed to supporting working carers within HES and we will continue to develop our wellbeing support and services to carers within our organisation.”

Government’s recent ‘Coronavirus (Covid-19) Guidance for Homeworking’. We encourage all interested organisations to visit our website – www.carerpositive.org – for more information and get in touch to find out how you can become a Carer Positive Employer.

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RACE TO ZERO

Take advantage of FREE workplace travel planning advice from Travelknowhow Scotland NOW is the time to be planning ahead and looking at your workplace travel planning measures and how you can encourage and support your employees to change to a greener commute. And as an employer, look to implement the right policies to support employees working from home longer term and ultimately reduce the need to travel as much as we used to. Covid 19 has demonstrated that, as a nation, we can change our travel behaviour and in many cases our working patterns too. This is now the time to put in place measures and support to enable your employees to maintain these changes in travel behaviour into 2021 and beyond. Travelknowhow Scotland is an online resource which offers organisations across Scotland FREE, easy access to a wide variety of travel planning solutions to help with the development and implementation of measures to engage with their employees in order to start changing travel behaviour to and from their own workplace. The website offers: access to travel planning information and links to local resources; specialist travel planning advice; specialist marketing advice to aid employee engagement; practical hints and tips; and adaptable downloadable templates aimed at providing cost effective internal and external communications. Funded and supported by Scotland’s 7 Regional Transport Partnerships and Transport Scotland. Currently, there are over 250 workplaces across Scotland already using this FREE resource. Travelknowhow Scotland is also part of Way to Work, meaning we are able to work with our Way to Work partners to offer multi modal advice to workplaces.

Sign up for FREE virtual workshops taking place in January and February 2021. Travelknowhow Scotland are offering organisations across Scotland the opportunity to sign up for FREE virtual workplace travel planning workshops. These workshops are designed to support organisations to develop a workplace travel plan as well as providing help with navigating the many schemes, funding opportunities and active and sustainable travel behaviour initiatives that are available across Scotland and in their particular region to find what works best for you and your employees. Organisations signing up to the

workshops will also been given the opportunity to take advantage of some FREE consultancy time, providing them with valuable, hands on support for their specific workplace. This free consultancy time is limited and will be allocated by region, on a first come, first serve basis. Spaces are limited, so contact us today at info@travelknowhowscotland.co.uk to secure your place at one of the workshops and to be in with a chance of accessing the FREE consultancy time. More information can be found on the Travelknowhow Scotland website.

Significant business benefits to be gained Encouraging more active and sustainable travel options to employees not only has a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of your workforce but brings with it significant business benefits too. save money on the cost of providing and maintaining parking spaces. save money on energy bills in offices as well as reviewing office lease arrangements. solve problems caused by demand for parking. cut mileage claims and other business travel costs.

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reduce staff downtime spent travelling on business. reduce the costs of running a fleet. solve delivery and customer access problems caused by traffic congestion around your site. improve your image with both customers, suppliers and neighbours. improve staff health and reduce absenteeism. help recruit and keep staff by making journeys to work easier and cheaper, and improving your image as a responsible employer.

improve your corporate social responsibility reputation, including meeting environmental targets You can also find us at: www.facebook.com/tkhscotland/ and www.linkedin.com/company/ travel-know-how-scotland/


RACE TO ZERO

@StagecoachWScot

stagecoachbus.com

Download our app.

@StagecoachWScot Ayr Survey Event Plan Location

• Outside Cafe Nero, Ayr High Street (See attached photo).

Date & Timings

• Sunday 23 February, from around 10:30 -- 14:30 • We will start set up at around 10:00, weather dependent.

Aims

• To collect survey responses • To spread the key messages of the #lovemybus campaign

Team & Roles • • • • •

Matt — TS — Event organiser

Rachel — TS

Steve Dickson — Ayr ATH

Scott — Lovemybus champion (will leave at 12:30)

Alexis — Stagecoach

Materials • • • • • • • • •

Flyers — Matt Badges — Matt Stickers — Matt Surveys — Matt Lovehearts — Matt Lovemybus t-shirts — Everyone that has one, Matt to bring spares Lovemybus Beach Flag — Alexis Gazebo — Alexis/Matt to pick up Table — Alexis/Matt to pick up

Business energy tariffs for SMEs with 100% renewable electricity. A campaign from:

Supported by:

We know that the world of business energy can be hard to navigate. It can be tempting to use a broker to help cut through the noise and secure a decent deal.

#

www.peoplesenergy.co.uk 01313 701770

Many brokers are great, but there are a number of rogue salespeople who can saddle small and medium businesses with bad energy deals, taking a sizable cut for themselves.

People’s Energy want to change that by offering clear and easy to understand business tariffs, cutting out the middle man and keeping costs as low as possible.

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DRIVE DUNDEE

Pop Up Chargers Dundee is regarded as Scotland’s leading city in the adoption, promotion and operation of electric vehicles (EVs). It is Scotland’s only Go Ultra Low City, promoting itself as a model city for the uptake of EVs. Dundee City Council have the ambitious goal to convert all small and medium cars and cans to be electric by 2022. They have the most electric vehicles of any local authority in the UK (including 2 x Mellor minibuses, a Johnston Sweeper and 2 x Dennis Eagle bin lorries). The swap to electric vehicles has seen the council travel over 5.6 million miles on pure electric. As a city, Dundee has taken on pilot projects and has become a testing ground for innovative charging solutions. It’s award-winning rapid charging hub – Princes Street - was the first of its kind with solar canopies, battery and energy storage which brought world-wide recognition. So what better city could be used to trial pop up chargers other than Dundee? Thanks to funding from Innovate UK this project brings together partners from all over the country.

Urban Foresight as the project manager, Urban Electric are the designers, DUKU manufacture the charger and Dundee City Council along with Plymouth City Council will be the first cities to introduce these chargers at scale. A common issue that is arising in cities is the lack of on-street charging solutions that are don’t clutter up a busy street, robust and aesthetically pleasing. In Dundee, many residents to not have dedicated off street parking with 51% live in multi-unit dwellings. Urban Electric, a London based innovation company set out to solve this problem with

pop up chargers in residential and urban areas. At the moment, the usual on-street chargers face resistance from local residence due to the street clutter and can be prone to vandalism, Urban Electric paved the way to with this innovative solution a charger that is hidden in the ground which “pops up” when the charger needs to be used. After three years in the making, and following a successful trial of a “rough prototype” hub in Oxford, the pop-up chargers are soon to been installed beneath the streets of Dundee,

Once they are installed they can power lots of cars down the road, we estimate three dualsocket charges will be enough to power up to 60 electric vehicles, based on average mobility miles (7,500 miles-a-year). So you don’t need roads cluttered, you just need a dependable hub to service that street. Business Scotland

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DRIVE DUNDEE

while a similar scheme in Plymouth will follow. The first charger will be installed on the Waterfront in front of the V&A, and is the culmination of an intense three years of research and development, manufacturing and trialling, something which is finally paying off. Olivier explained: “Once they are installed they can power lots of cars down the road, we estimate three dual-socket charges will be enough to power up to 60 electric vehicles, based on average mobility miles (7,500 miles-a-year). So you don’t need roads cluttered, you just need a dependable hub to service that street. “It’s a robust piece of machinery. You don’t need any special equipment to use it, just the standard charging cable, and you don’t have to press a button, you just use the app, and when finished, unplug, and it will automatically retract into the ground.” The total cost of the scheme is £3.8million which has been joint funded by Office of Low Emission Vehicles and Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency.

you can plug in you type 2 cable and you are good to go! When the charger is not in use it is completely flush to the ground, you can step, jump, drive over these caps without causing any damage. By using a type 2 cable the charger is compatible with all plug-in vehicles which makes it even easier. The app is easy to use and each charger has its own name. The app is easy to use and each charger has its own name. There is also a 24/7 driver support helpline if needed.

The charger itself is operated through an app which allows the user to select activate and pay for the charger. Once activated the charger slowly “pops up” from the ground

Mark Flynn convener of Dundee City Council's city development committee said: "As a city in which there a lot of tenement properties it is important that we try to make

charging points available to as many people as possible and this technology offers us the chance to do that. "I hope that the pop-up charger at the Waterfront is the first of many and that they are well used." www.dundeecity.gov.uk

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OGILVIE ROSS

Hostage negotiation principles for the business world As a hostage negotiator I thought that my skill set was only for engaging with angry, violent people or those who found themselves in a bad place mentally. However, the more crisis incidents I was involved in, the more I realised they all had one common denominator - people. It became clear that we all react in a similar manner in a range of circumstances particularly when we’re threatened, or our character is called into question. My experience is that our behaviour drives our emotions; therefore learning how to ‘hack into’ someone’s emotions impacts on how they behave. To ‘plug into’ other people’s emotions we need to be able to find out what is important to them, their values, wants, needs and beliefs. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to work with the FBI’s senior hostage negotiations team focussing on the psychological aspects of negotiating. It became evident that if you understand what drives and motivates someone, you will have a greater chance of influencing their behaviour – no matter the circumstances. The FBI created a standard approach to negotiations based on what they defined as a person’s five “Core Concerns”. The first Core Concern is Appreciation. We all want to feel valued and appreciated but there are occasions when it is difficult to appreciate the other side’s perspective. We want to prove we’re right and they’re wrong! During any conversation, what’s the best way to show appreciation? Let them do most of the talking and take time to listen to their perspective and understand what’s really important to them. You don’t have to agree, but you can empathise and appreciate their viewpoint. The second Core Concern is Autonomy. No one likes being told what to do. We all want to have control over what we do and what we don’t do. The minute someone tries to force their opinions or demands that you do what they want, it can trigger negative emotions which can make you become defensive, leading to conflict. So how do you create positivity? Give the other side some form of control such as a choice or the opportunity to influence the outcome. The next Core Concern is Affiliation. As humans we are social beings, and we want to feel connected. These connections can be positive or negative – are we collaborating or is it me against you? Feeling left out can create negative, defensive emotions. So how do you create positivity and collaboration? This is where empathy is key, enabling us to

Colin Harper is an associate partner with Ogilvie Ross LLP and was formerly the Operational Lead for the Hostage and Crisis Negotiation Unit within Police Scotland.

recognise the other side’s position and show that it’s valued. The fourth Core Concern is Status. Everyone has their own perception of their status and position in society. When we look to reach an agreement with another person, we need to focus on the process and language we use so that they feel we have respected them and their position. Conversely, language or actions which infer a lower status can have a significant negative impact on an individual. Taking the time to understand the people you engage with makes all the difference.

unit. Similarly, a promotion can cause changes to the person’s roles in life. We must recognise the impact our negotiations will potentially have on a person’s role and be mindful of the changes which may occur and their impact. If you can incorporate the principles of Core Concerns in your negotiations, you will greatly increase the likelihood of achieving your aims and build a solid foundation for future opportunities with the other party. www.ogilvieross.co.uk

The final Core Concern is Role. We all have many roles to fulfil each day - partner, parent, carer, employee, boss etc. These roles are frequently interlinked and changes to any single role can impact all others. Becoming unemployed may cause significant changes to someone’s role within a family

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BUSINESS PARTNER SPOTLIGHT

Creating the right opportunities for young people Nobody in Scotland has been unaffected by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. When it comes to employment prospects, the evidence shows that young people are being affected more that the rest of us. Both as an employer with Scottish Power Energy Networks, and as Chair of Skills Development Scotland, the safety and wellbeing of colleagues has been an absolute priority. That includes a particular focus on young people. At a time when many businesses across the country are focused on survival, it can be tempting for business leaders to think about developing young talent as a problem for tomorrow. Even through difficult times, Scotland can’t deny young people one of the most direct pathways to a rewarding career – an apprenticeship. Encouragingly, with support from the Job Retention Scheme and other government intervention, the great majority of Scotland’s apprentice employers have been able to stand by their young people, supporting apprentices through the pandemic. For that, they have my sincere thanks and will have the continued support of Skills Development Scotland. As we continue backing the current generation of apprentices, it has never been more critical to create opportunities for young people. With the recent launch of the Young Person’s Guarantee, the Scottish Government has committed to minimising youth unemployment caused by the pandemic.

The guarantee rightly covers a range of opportunities after leaving school – work, volunteering, learning and training.

Graduate Apprenticeships, are creating a world-leading work-based learning system right here in Scotland.

It’s a bold commitment in what has felt like the bleakest of times.

Scottish Government remains firmly committed to the long-term role of apprenticeships in economic renewal, in supporting growth areas of the economy and providing the best career prospects for young people

Unlike other forms of learning and training, an apprenticeship isn’t the promise of a job – or the potential to get into employment. It’s a job from day-one – working, earning and learning. Apprenticeships provide opportunities for sustained employment at a time when young people need them most.

Through its Programme for Government, Scottish Government is focusing on youth employment, training and apprenticeships to avoid the ‘scarring of youth unemployment’.

The potential that an apprenticeship can release in a young person is directly matched by the benefits to employers who get a skilled workforce.

SDS and partners have responded to the pandemic, enhancing services and offering new support for apprentices, employers and training providers.

After over a decade of rapid expansion, the number of new apprenticeship opportunities has reduced in the last six months.

The Apprenticeship Employer Grant looks to provide additional support for employers to take on apprentices up to the end of the financial year.

This isn’t a surprise – we know the labour market has contracted as a result of the pandemic and advertised job opportunities are down in almost every sector of the economy. However, it’s critical that we minimise this disruption – the need to support apprenticeship opportunities and workbased learning pathways has never been greater. We know that Scottish business backs talent – pre-pandemic more than 12,000 employers supported apprenticeships. The steady increase over the years and managed expansion of apprenticeships has been in line with growing employer demand to develop their workforce. New initiatives in recent years, such as Foundation Apprenticeships for pupils and

Scottish Government remains firmly committed to the long-term role of apprenticeships in economic renewal, in supporting growth areas of the economy and providing the best career prospects for young people.

Funding for Adopt an Apprentice – to help employers to take on redundant apprentices – has increased from £2000 to £5000. The Apprentice Transition Plan service will also see more support for apprentices made redundant near the end of their apprenticeship to help them get qualified. New Pathway Apprenticeships will also provide opportunities for school leavers facing more limited options due to the economic impact from COVID-19. As the national skills agency, SDS will continue to work to ensure the right support is there for those who need it in the months to come. We will continue to work with the Scottish Apprenticeship Advisory Board and other employer organisations to maximise the support available. As employers we need to sustain our investment in young people through apprenticeships to avoid a generation missing out on the critical skills that will last them a lifetime and help renew our economy. For those who can, the support and help from Skills Development Scotland is there to make sure apprenticeships can strengthen your business. Visit apprenticeships.scot to get the help you need to give a young person a chance.

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BUSINESS PARTNER SPOTLIGHT

Frank Mitchell

Chair, Skills Development Scotland

Business Scotland

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FULLY FUNDED CONSTRUCTION MANAGEMENT TRAINING


BEGBIES TRAYNOR

Feast and famine Just as the pandemic has thrown up both winners and losers in the business world, we are currently anticipating high levels of both solvent (MVLs) and insolvent liquidations over the first quarter of 2021.

Feast Many MVLs have already taken place as business owners called it a day at various stages throughout lockdown. Some were quick to realise their time had come, deciding to cash in their chips at the outset in the face of so many uncertainties and effectively taking early retirement. Others required more thought and/ or planning, perhaps organising a sale, whereas many were in no such position and/or took a more optimistic outlook. The particularly enterprising may even have set up companies to take advantage of the pandemic on a one-off or short-term basis. Restrictive practices have gone on well beyond what was originally anticipated and have altered the plans of those who carried on. Some markets may have deteriorated massively in that time and future trading no longer be viable or simply too marginal to risk further erosion of their net worth. Winding up a company via an MVL (Members Voluntary Liquidation) allows for the extraction of wealth as capital, rather than income, at much lower tax rates. Already weary at the thought of coping with IR35 and as we approach the New Year, many business owners are looking at 5 April 2021 with real fear that the Chancellor, in seeking to recoup the mind-blowing cost of the pandemic, will remove Business Asset Disposal Relief (formerly Entrepreneurs’ Relief), which is currently 10% for the first £1 million and 20% thereafter. For whatever reason, there is likely to be a strong rise in MVLs in the first quarter.

Famine Many have suffered, but, while the stronger companies or older owners can realise remaining value and feast on their spoils as it were, others are not in that comparatively fortunate position and will need to carry on somehow. Some sectors have been hit so hard by lockdown restrictions that when government support comes to an end they will have serious issues to address. Hospitality and retail are obvious candidates, but others caught up in supply chains will also be affected. With debt build up and ongoing trading still marginal, many will require drastic surgery.

Kenny Craig

In Scotland, the number of bars and restaurants seeing ‘significant’ financial distress leapt by 15% in quarter 3 of 2020, when compared with the same period in 2019. There was also a 6% rise in business distress since Q2 and over 1,300 hospitality businesses in trouble. These companies (and not forgetting unincorporated businesses) will have hopefully restructured their operations and finances in all possible ways and engaging with stakeholders in the process, but ultimately, if sufficient turnover does not return quickly enough, cash runs out or the hole they are in is simply too big to dig their way out of, they will have no option but to take more formal action.

least save the business and provide ongoing livelihood, via CVA, pre-pack admin sale or even liquidation. With family homes on the line in unincorporated businesses, or via personal guarantees, specialist input is absolutely vital before decisions are taken. It is human nature to delay such difficult decisions and hope for the cavalry to come over the hill in some shape or form, but undue delay comes at a cost, limiting options and at worst, risking everything. Initial advice is free, so, with nothing to lose and much to gain, the message is clear. For a free, confidential consultation at a time and place convenient for you, please get in touch on 0141 222 2230

These businesses should contact restructuring professionals like ourselves without delay, either directly or via their existing professional advisers, so as to provide every opportunity to explore the options available. Things can be done to at

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BUSINESS PARTNER SPOTLIGHT

Employer grant boosts support to recruit apprentices Employers who take on an apprentice can get increased financial support thanks to a new initiative in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The Apprenticeship Employer Grant, announced by the Scottish Government, offers up to £5,000 to employers who take on a Modern or Graduate Apprentice within their business. The Grant aims to encourage more employers to take on an apprentice or upskill an existing staff member through an apprenticeship. It supports employers and the economy, as well as the ambitions of the Scottish Government’s Young Person’s Guarantee. Employers can apply for the grant from January, where the apprenticeship start date was on or after 1st December 2020 and funding will be available for starts until 25th March 2021 or until funding levels are exceeded, whichever comes first. First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon MSP announced the grant, which will be delivered by Skills Development Scotland. She said: “This pandemic has hit us hard – especially our young people who are facing fewer opportunities. We must help this generation who have been caught so cruelly in the eye of the COVID-19 storm. “To do that we’ve established the £60 million Young Person’s Guarantee. It aims to give

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everyone aged 16-24 the opportunity of work, education or training. “As part of that we will invest £15 million to help more employers take on an apprentice. Businesses want to give young people opportunities, but for many the impact of the pandemic will make the costs hard to meet. So we’ll pay employers up to £5,000 for every new Modern Apprentice they take on.” The Apprenticeship Employer Grant is within a range of business support offered by SDS to support employers to take on an apprentice. Payments for employers recruiting apprentices who have been made redundant during the pandemic are being increased from £2,000 to £5,000 through the Adopt an Apprentice scheme. Whilst there is no cost for employers to get involved in Foundation Apprenticeships for school pupils, a financial contribution is provided towards learning for Modern and Graduate Apprenticeships. For those who are disabled and careexperienced, there’s an enhanced funding contribution for Modern Apprentices up to and including age 29. SDS also provides a relationship managed

service supporting employers to navigate the Scottish skills system, with a team of skilled advisers on hand to help find the right apprenticeships to support business needs and access to funding support. There is also a free helpline to get help and advice (0800 783 6000). These and other incentives are being highlighted by SDS in a nationwide campaign to encourage employers to retain and recruit apprentices. The campaign, supported by Scottish Chambers, aims to demonstrate that apprenticeships provide the skills employers need to adapt, sustain and strengthen their businesses. It features apprentice employers who have continued to invest in and benefit from apprenticeships in a challenging economic landscape and the business benefits of giving a young person a chance through an apprenticeship. The application process for the Apprenticeship Employer Grant will open from the beginning of January 2021. Further details on the grant and apprenticeships are available at apprenticeships.scot.


BUSINESS PARTNER SPOTLIGHT

Recovery, Renewal, Renaissance By Malcolm Roughead OBE Chief Executive, VisitScotland

There may be a bright spot on the horizon with the news of a Covid vaccine, but right now tourism businesses across the country are still in survival mode and need all the support our Governments can give. Large sections of the industry right now remain closed, are unable to operate fully or, like events, were never able to restart in the summer. Government support is ongoing and VisitScotland has administered and added support packages for businesses in the events industry, self-catering, B&Bs and delivered financial support to destination groups across the country. The report from The Scottish Tourism Task Force, a short-life working group developing independent recommendations to Scottish Ministers and the UK Government on the

necessary actions to support tourism and hospitality recovery in Scotland, was published. Over a period of three months task force representatives met collectively and in sectoral subgroups to consider the key actions needed to stimulate demand, support business recovery and employee retention and unlock investment. These recommendations were submitted to Scottish Ministers and UK Government for consideration earlier this month and can be found on the Scottish Tourism Alliance website. What the recommendations amount to is not only a way to help the industry in the shortterm, but a way to get tourism back onto the strong pre-covid footing and help it develop and achieve its full potential. The industry is waiting to hear how the recommendations will be taken forward, but they amount to a clear opportunity to invest in the future of our industry, which is by any measure a global leader.

jobs – some 217,000 - and delivers £11.5 billion to the economy each year. Scotland cannot do without this important industry, or the business owners, operators and skilled workers who have driven its success in recent years. We should all be proud of the passion, commitment and innovation delivered by businesses during these hard months. Just imagine what can be achieved once this crisis passes and this energy is directed to building up tourism once more; sustainably and responsibly. However, we should be in no doubt of the challenge ahead. Support from the Scottish and UK Governments has been essential and welcome. By working together and, with a greater understanding of the true value of our sector, I’m certain tourism in Scotland can be taken to new heights, delivering even more for our communities and economy.

Tourism is a vital industry for our country. It puts Scotland on the word stage, it creates

Riverside Museum © Kenny Lam & Visit Scotland

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Glasgow Science Centre creates extraordinary digital event experiences

With large scale live events on hold due to current government restrictions, Glasgow Science Centre has invested in new state of the art AV technology to deliver smaller corporate events with a digitally focussed event experience capable of live streaming worldwide across multiple platforms such as Facebook and YouTube. This is further enhanced with additional features such as interactive voting systems to facilitate online audience engagement and offers clients the opportunity to create an optimised digital experience tailored to their needs while helping them to expand their audience reach. Glasgow Science Centre has always been a unique venue for corporate events where delegates can explore over 400 interactive exhibits across three floors as well as take in science experiences during their event. Live streaming an event from the Planetarium or using the venue’s many exhibition areas as an event backdrop can make a corporate event extraordinary digitally. In addition, Glasgow Science Centre’s new building wide LED lighting system will also ensure that all clients can fully brand any event space within the venue to their specifications. For more information and enquiries on how to make your next event extraordinary, contact Hannah Wright, Corporate Events Sales Manager at Hannah.wright@gsc.org.uk

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EICC supports Empty Kitchens, Full Hearts The Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC) has partnered with Empty Kitchens, Full Hearts, to provide supplies of food to the social enterprise who convert food donations into meals for people in need. Empty Kitchens, Full Hearts was set up earlier this year as a volunteer movement to respond to the Covid-19 crisis, taking food donations, turning them into breakfasts, lunches and dinners, before packaging and delivering the “day packs” across Edinburgh free of charge. As well as providing food from its kitchens, the EICC team is sourcing toiletries, tins and providing volunteers from the venue team for the social enterprise run by founder Lewis MacLachlan. Lewis MacLachlan, Founder, Empty Kitchens, Full Hearts said: “I gladly welcome EICC into the Empty Kitchens, Full Hearts Movement and I hope that we can continue to support each other, and the great citizens of Scotland, while we try to rebuild our industry. Our diverse yet united supporters are very much our strength.” Marshall Dallas, EICC CEO, said: “Supporting social impact initiatives across our community is something we’re really passionate about, and we believe we have a responsibility to give back whenever we can. Homelessness and food poverty initiatives are two areas we have strongly supported over the last few years, Covid-19 has exacerbated so many societal issues and we’re proud to be working with Lewis and the Empty Kitchens, Full Hearts team.”

Lord Provost Frank Ross said: “This is a fantastic initiative and my thanks to all the staff at EICC for supporting this. It was my pleasure to visit Empty Kitchens, Full Hearts last month where I met the team of volunteers and saw the preparation and distribution of over 750 whole day meal packs to those facing food security challenges across our city.”

Contact us to discuss a solution for your next event t 0131 300 3333 e sales@eicc.co.uk w www.eicc.co.uk

@eicc

Edinburgh International Conference Centre

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BUSINESS PARTNER SPOTLIGHT

A Digital Future for Business in Scotland Neil Francis

Interim Managing Director, Scottish Enterprise

As 2020 draws to a close, it’s a year that none of us will ever forget. Due to the impact of COVID-19, the norms we previously associated with everyday life have changed. This has been particularly evident in the world of business, where many companies have had to introduce new ways of trading with customers. This has resulted in strong growth in e-commerce, with companies turning their attention to digital channels to help them sell their products. As firms have adapted to the changing business landscape, e-commerce has shifted from a ‘nice to have’ to a ‘must have’ for companies to survive and thrive in a post COVID-19 world. That’s why as part of our trade recovery plan to aid businesses impacted by this global pandemic, Scottish Enterprise has placed digital activity at its very heart. The rapid growth of e-commerce and online sales channels mean the benefits of ‘going digital’ have never been greater. Scottish Enterprise and our partners want to support businesses to take advantage of these opportunities. And here’s how we are doing this. As part of our focused efforts to support businesses, strong emphasis is being placed on assisting companies develop their digital and e-commerce capabilities to help them trade in new ways. Alongside this, we are enhancing our suite of existing digital services and redesigning these to ensure companies can access them as smoothly as possible. Our team of digital trade experts is advising businesses on choosing the right e-commerce approach for their

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company and making sure online activity complements and supports existing sales channels. For many companies, a Direct to Consumer (D2C) approach to e-commerce is proving to be the most effective way of achieving online sales ambitions. This involves a direct transaction between product owners or manufacturers and buyers. D2C allows companies to bypass the traditional middlemen such as agents, distributors, stockists and retailers, giving firms direct access to customers online. Given that most retailers now have both online and offline channels, many companies, particularly those who sell their products primarily through 3rd party retailers, have already achieved some success online. However, we are increasingly seeing companies wanting to take greater control of their online activity by introducing a direct to consumer approach to e-commerce. For example, in the United States an estimated 48% of manufacturers are currently planning to establish a D2C channel. The alternative D2C approach is for companies selling products through an emarketplace and it’s fair to say that the rise of these online platforms has been a game changer. Amazon, eBay, AliExpress and other global emarketplaces make it possible for companies of any size, from new starts to multinationals, to sell directly to their customers on a global basis. Online retail sales reached $4.9 trillion in 2020, and this is a trend that looks set to continue in the future with growth estimated at 40% throughout the next three years. The record performance of emarketplaces during the pandemic demonstrate that an increasing number of consumers are turning to ecommerce platforms to meet their needs. And it has been encouraging for us to see so many companies across Scotland embracing this trend. From breweries selling online for the first time, to agricultural firms introducing online livestock auctions, more and more

businesses are looking for ways to develop their ecommerce capability. An excellent example we’ve been proud to highlight on our website involves the agricultural company, ANM Group, based near Inverurie in Aberdeenshire. Recognising the challenges that social distancing would bring, ANM Group embraced e-commerce, allowing it to take its expertise in the live auction ring and apply it online. Not only did this help the company reach customers adversely affected by COVID-19, it opened up new markets and opportunities for this innovative firm. Throughout the past nine months, Scottish Enterprise has been hosting online events to support companies on their e-commerce journey. Whether this has been webinars about e-commerce opportunities in the United States and China or providing guidance to businesses about selling on Amazon’s global marketplace, these virtual engagements have proven to be very popular. Further webinars are planned for the new year and these will be advertised on the e-commerce section of our website, which provides comprehensive advice and guidance for companies looking to do business online. Scottish Enterprise’s website, alongside the multiagency PrepareforBrexit portal, provides advice, access to sources of financial support and online assessment for companies ahead of the EU transition period ending at the start of January. This includes guidance for businesses who trade online. So, there has not been a more challenging year for businesses than 2020. Next year will likely bring more hurdles for firms to overcome. But if there’s one positive that can be taken, it’s the emerging opportunities that e-commerce can provide to companies across Scotland. The perseverance and innovation of companies over the past nine months has been inspiring. So many businesses have focused on what’s possible, rather than what’s impossible. Scottish Enterprise stands ready to support Scottish firms and turn their digital ambitions into reality. www.scottish-enterprise.com


BUSINESS PARTNER SPOTLIGHT

“Our team of digital trade experts is advising businesses on choosing the right e-commerce approach for their company and making sure online activity complements and supports existing sales channels.�

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DIGITAL INNOVATION AND TECHNOLOGY

The latest on OpenBanking Emobix has been working within the OpenBanking ecosystem for almost 3 years now, so I thought it’d be useful to share an insider’s view on where we are today. Firstly: don’t be scared by the buzzwords

For those that aren’t working directly in the area, the ‘OpenBanking’ term often worries people. Rest assured that OpenBanking isn’t going to give anyone else access to any of your banking without your explicit permission – you are always in control. In fact, for most people you’ll never need to have any understanding of what OpenBanking is, and you may already have used it to make your life easier wi­thout realising the underlying technology was OpenBanking. Much like GDPR, the result of the underlying legislation (known as the ‘Revised Payment Services Directive’, or PSD2) is to give you extra rights and control over your own banking data and operations.

Where we are today

The largest 9 banks in the UK started supporting OpenBanking in January 2018, and most smaller banks went live in September 2019. There were the usual initial teething troubles, but it’s fair to say that nowadays it all works pretty well. If you use cloud accounting software like Xero then you’re almost certainly already using OpenBanking to automatically ‘feed’ your current account and credit card transactions into your accounting package ready for reconciliation. Monzo have recently launched a feature that allows you to move money directly from your accounts at other banks into your Monzo account - without needing to jump through the usual hoops of entering sort codes and account numbers, but still leaving you in full control of how much is transferred and when. They also use OpenBanking to allow you to view the balances and transactions of your non-Monzo accounts within their app.

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We’ve also seen other benefits – for example some charities now use OpenBanking to let you easily send a one-off donation direct from your bank account, saving them money on card processing fees and removing the need for donors to enter card details. There are unfortunately two major annoyances due to the way the legislation was written: 1. when authorizing third parties like your accounting software to import your bank transactions, this authorization has to be renewed every 90 days 2. some accounts are “out of scope” for OpenBanking/PSD2, meaning you’re unable to use OpenBanking for these accounts – examples might be mortgages or saving accounts that you can’t make payments to third parties from. Some banks (for example Starling) have taken the view that they’ll go further than the law requires them to, making the 90 day renewal easier than many of the large incumbent banks. Hopefully other banks will improve the process in time, either to improve the experience for their users, or perhaps more likely because our law makers force them to.

The “B” word

The end of the Brexit transition period is looming – unfortunately as we have no details on what any exit deal might look like, so it’s impossible to say what effect this will have. For those using OpenBanking, the ideal situation would be that ‘passporting’ of Financial Institutions between the UK and EU continues, which would result in little changing. This would mean effectively continuing to cede control of parts of our

financial system to the EU, something not really compatible with the ‘take back control’ motto. It’s hence very plausible that we’ll see some significant disruption immediately after the transition period ends, though if the details of any agreement are known early enough this can hopefully be avoided.

What’s next

We should see some subtle but useful innovation over the next year or two – you may never realise it is innovation made possible by OpenBanking; you’ll just see some of your day to day tasks getting simpler, quicker and less error prone. As an example, I’m sure many smaller companies are currently running payroll by having someone manually copy values from payroll software into your bank’s internet banking, a manual process that’s annoying and potentially error prone. Once the payroll provider supports OpenBanking this should become fully automatic. Similarly, for those that have already switched to cloud-based employee expense systems (like expensify) we should see the approval of a claim automatically scheduling the repayment to the employee – reducing costs, speeding up repayments and reducing the potential for human error. Joseph Heenan CTO at emobix limited, Glasgow www.emobix.co.uk


DIGITAL INNOVATION AND TECHNOLOGY

Your Remote Workforce

Home Working Here To Stay In 2020 the pandemic presented a number of business challenges - the likes of which we’d never seen before. In just a matter of months, forced through no choice of our own, home working is now recognised as a universal norm. The vaccine roll-out throughout 2021 will see a welcome return to the office for many of us, but the proven, tried and tested ability to work successfully from home will see many companies adopting flexible home working policies. Cutting costs and increasing sales is an obvious formula for success. Office based overheads are enormous, and if organisations can reduce or eliminate their office footprint without impacting the business then they will.

No Excuse From a technology perspective, there are no obstacles that prevent transparent and seamless home working. I’ve actually been staggered by the number of organisations whose receptionists send an email to their colleagues requesting they call you back because they can’t put you through. There is no excuse for that today. You can take your desk-phone and deploy it anywhere. Telecom technology sees your extension in your back pocket if that’s where you want it.

The pandemic and home working should not prohibit business communications when it’s so simply addressed.

Security And so to security. Yes, this is a much bigger issue. Whatever our historical budgets, we have to increase our spend on security. Most organisations have already invested heavily in protecting and securing their office based workers, but the firewalls and internet policies that provide blanket protection in the corporate environment are now ineffective because staff are no longer there. Home workers are operating in very precarious and unprotected environments. This presents huge risk to their organisation, and IT departments need to take significant steps to secure all of their network endpoints.

itself, and resolution for the difficulties they experience is often time consuming. We have adapted throughout 2020 to ensure that home workers receive the same polished support they are accustomed to. We have also been able to revise their security policies and ensure the protection that exists in the workplace extends to all remote workers.

Take Heed Organisations must recognise that cyber threats are extremely intelligent and advancing day by day. Redirecting workplace security spend to the network’s endpoints can go some way to offsetting costs, but our endpoints must be secured. And if you’re still struggling with communications, call your Mother!

Extending Support At Mother Technologies the pandemic saw our support activities shift significantly from the workplace to the home where every user’s environment is different; laden with non-business related tech and extremely challenging from a support perspective. Most internal IT departments don’t have the resources to support home workers. The distributed geography is an obstacle in

Steve Redhead Managing Director of Mother Technologies www.mother.uk.net

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Your Digital Transformation Journey Transform the way you do business today to build your business for tomorrow. Technology has revolutionised the way we work for ever and shows no signs of stopping or slowing down, therefore, anyone in business needs to be aware and taking action to ensure their business isn’t just ready for technology today but is future proofed for what is still to come. The advancements we are seeing in technology should be recognised as a fantastic opportunity for growth, development and to maintain a competitive advantage. There are three key technology drivers that have transformed the way businesses operate. Cloud migration and mobile apps have been successful for businesses for some time now and we are just starting to recognise and apply the business benefits of artificial intelligence.

Cloud Migration The cloud migration journey continues to dominate and is driven in a lot of cases by cost : “We’ve had companies we work with tell us that their costs of hosting their own fully reliant systems are eye-wateringly expensive. The equivalent cost of a cloud solution is significantly less.” But the decision to move to the cloud is not solely driven by cost: “One of the main benefits of going completely serverless is you don’t have to worry about hardware, operating systems or back-up servers. All of those things are built-in and are the responsibility of the cloud provider. Agility is also improved for organisations as off the shelf cloud services can be combined to deliver new capabilities more quickly.”

Mobile Apps “The smartphone and subsequent rise in mobile apps have changed the way organisations operate and communicate with their customer base.” The ‘always on’ mentality has seen a shift towards 24/7 accessibility for all companies and customers expecting to be able to ask questions at a time that’s convenient for them. Companies who don’t offer that service find themselves lagging behind their competitors. Mobile application technology has facilitated that flexibility.

Artificial Intelligence The main topic that is now dominating any discussion on technology is Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the impact this will have on businesses. When we talk about AI, we mean things like machine learning which is really just a statistical modelling type application that learns from data. “We’ve worked with clients who have a need to extract information from documents and that extraction cannot be coded using traditional software development techniques but machine learning algorithms can be trained to identify and pull out the necessary information. Another practical example for us is in chatbots – where you can use AI to get an understanding of what someone is asking and offer automated responses based on that.”

Digital Transformation The technology drivers we’ve discussed here all contribute to the digital transformation of business. It has come to a point where business need to embrace the change or they will die. As brutal as that may sound – it is a harsh reality proven again and again with disruptive technologies. Digital transformation is about future-proofing your business. “The technology advancements we have discussed facilitate anyone on the digital transformation journey. That makes this a really exciting time to be working in the technology sector and here at Pulsion we are passionate about continuing to learn and stay at the forefront of these technologies.”

+44 (0)141 352 2280

info@pulsion.co.uk

www.pulsion.co.uk


DIGITAL INNOVATION AND TECHNOLOGY

Creative journey provides welcome digital solutions When Covid-19 forced a practice of counsellors to put their new building on hold, Glasgow-based IT company Buttered Host stepped in to provide them with a digital alternative instead.

Therein lay the challenge for Buttered Host. “Users have to feel comfortable in an online setting too,” said Gill.

While every project with a client is akin to a journey, this one contains more landmarks than most, said Buttered Host founder Gill Wilson.

“So what is the digital equivalent of that? How do you make a user feel like they are in good hands in a digital hub?”

“We are building them a digital wellness hub, which embraces a tremendous range of functionality – from the integration of Zoom to the inclusion of games packages and animations to the incorporation of classrooms and one-toone spaces. “We are on a really exciting journey with this particular client, Healing for the Heart, creating what I’m pretty sure is a unique website. “I have never seen another website as interactive at so many levels as this one will be.”

“For example, if someone would usually enter a building, go through reception and then into a meeting room, you wouldn’t expect them to do that alone – a member of staff would greet them and take them through.

Buttered Host recently expanded, when Gill Wilson’s daughter Isla joined her in the business

Gill had already put her two-decades worth of experience in the IT industry to good use furnishing Healing for the Heart with an app. Functionality was key there too, giving the counsellors the means of doing everything from writing up their session notes to gathering feedback and measuring client progress. Now the website is taking users on a different route, this time in through the front door and round the rooms of a digital hub that recreates, as closely as possible, the warmth, welcome and feel of the real McCoy.

The answer, in this case, begins with a chatbot called Rosie, who meets users the minute they enter. Rosie then takes them into a room that, typically, will have a rug on the floor, pictures on the walls and a television that ‘works’, showing videos. It is the digital equivalent of a home from home. www.butteredhost.com

Now IS the time to become more efficient We know many businesses are struggling in these current challenging times, so we want to help make things easier for you. E-Max ERP takes away operational uncertainty so your engineering or manufacturing business can: Improve operational efficiency Reduce waste Save money Increase delivery in full on time (DIFOT) rate Minimise downtime of machines & workforce Manage business growth Whilst it may not seem like the right time to be considering a new ERP system, investing in E-Max ERP now will give your business the tools to navigate these, and any future difficult times, profitably.

emax-systems.co.uk

Contact us now to discuss or arrange an online or onsite demo. Call us on 0808 109 2035 or Email us at jason@emax-systems.co.uk

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CHAMBER NETWORK SUCCESSES

Fife Business Awards bring a tumultuous year in Fife to a spectacular end

2020 has certainly been an adventure for the staff and members of Fife Chamber. Like everyone across the Network, we have had to adjust quickly to the demands of Covid restrictions to keep supporting members, and we are now a lot wiser, quite a bit greyer and most definitely closer. Although we’ve been physically separate as a team, and that has been hard for everyone, we have never relied on each other more than we have in the last eight months.

By Alan Mitchell

Fife Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive The highlights have been numerous, from maintaining great attendance at our online events, even though everyone is, increasingly, ‘Zoomed out’, to the loyalty of our members who have continued to renew their memberships despite their own challenges, to seeing members step forward with offers of help for each other, to the enhanced collaboration with all the other chambers in the Network to create an even more unified business voice for Scotland. There have, of course, been lowlights as well, especially seeing some of the members we have got to know well go out of business. Live events were always significant for us so we had to pivot to online meetings:

and we have done. We have progressed from almost ‘make it up as we go along’ on our first Chamber Chat to delivering the Fife Business Awards online, with a live studio presenter, live feeds to the finalists and the distribution of 250 Celebration bags so finalists and sponsors can have a proper party at home. In between, we launched our ‘Tour of Britain’ of virtual joint events with chambers of commerce from across the UK and we moved the event partnerships we already had with other Scottish chambers online. My amazing team made this happen and our President Brian Horisk summed it up perfectly when he said: “The team have done a fabulous job steering the Chamber through these most challenging of times. They have put in the hours to create great events and stay in touch with members and help them in every way they can. The Board and the members needed them to

deliver, and that is exactly what they have done.” The centrepiece of our programme next year will be Fife Learn Rebuild, which will create platforms for experts to share their business knowledge and members to share their equally valuable insights, so we can all rebuild our businesses and get back to doing what we do best: profitably creating and delivering great products and services. That will be good for individual members and for the Fife economy. But we also want to help our communities rebuild, so we will be donating 30% of money from ticket sales to local charities, so they can get back to doing what they do best: looking after the most disadvantaged and vulnerable people in Fife. The team will start 2021 with many factors still out with their control but with a strong conviction to look out for each other, stay focused on members and be a reliable partner for Liz and her team at the SCC.

The team have done a fabulous job steering the Chamber through these most challenging of times. They have put in the hours to create great events and stay in touch with members and help them in every way they can. The Board and the members needed them to deliver, and that is exactly what they have done. Brian Horisk, President, Fife Chamber

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Full fibre is coming to Scotland CityFibre is transforming Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Stirling into some of the best digitally connected cities on the planet. With an investment of more than £440 million CityFibre is driving the digital economic growth across Scotland. Our full fibre network will connect entire communities, from your family at home, to your children at school, your workplace and even traffic lights and CCTV cameras. Almost every property will have access to gigabit-speed internet connectivity - that’s 1000Mbps! Businesses can embrace new technologies enabling them to compete both nationally and internationally No more home internet frustrations. Reliable full fibre means seamless homeworking and streaming, no matter how many people are online Students can access the latest e-learning tools and video conference across the globe Lives become easier with simple access to council services and smart city applications

Find out how CityFibre is transforming Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Stirling at cityfibre.com/gigabit-cities


CITYFIBRE

Full fibre matters - how CityFibre is rolling out gigabit-capable broadband to transform and future-proof Scotland One of the biggest lessons from months of living through a pandemic has been the critical importance of digital connectivity in keeping businesses running. And, despite the fact we all now have serious Zoom fatigue, the chances of returning to ‘normal’ office life any time soon remains slim, especially as local restrictions continue to be imposed. Throughout this time, internet access has enabled so many of us to keep working. Research has found 43 per cent of employees say that, even once COVID-19 is under control, they would like to increase the amount of home-working they do. As a result, we will continue to see a great deal of video conferencing and digital business. Yet, using apps like Skype and Zoom can be an endlessly frustrating experience, with lagging, buffering and dropped connections regularly interrupting our working day. This is the reality for many citizens across Scotland, given the fact just 16 per cent of homes nationwide currently have access to future-proof full fibre network infrastructure. As the UK’s third national digital infrastructure platform, CityFibre is providing a solution by building game-

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changing networks across the country – including six cities in Scotland. With network projects in over 60 cities and construction underway to reach up to 8 million homes, CityFibre is future-proofing the UK. Something which is regularly discussed at government level, given its importance in driving the nation forward.

Powering our ambitions While the term ‘fibre broadband’ is thrown around a lot, often when providers mention fibre, they are referring to connections that are only partly fibre (known as Fibre-tothe-Cabinet). These connections usually include some copper wiring for the final stretch to your home, which is a major factor in lagging and dropped connections. In fact, it was not even designed to carry internet services in the first place.

Full fibre is different. There is no copper wire involved at any stage. Instead, fibre connections are used for the entire length of the journey, straight into your home or business. That allows for Gigabit capable ‘lightning speed’ services and superior reliability. Simply put, full fibre gives you what you think you may be getting, or expect, from part fibre connections. The UK is making real progress in the adoption of full fibre. However, we still lag behind our global neighbours. In 2019, the UK ranked 34th in the worldwide broadband speed table, behind a host of European countries. The average speed in the UK was 22.37Mbps, which compared unfavourably to Sweden – Europe’s top ranked country – which had an average speed of 55.18Mbps. Indeed, in the Scandinavian nation, full fibre coverage is more than 70 per cent, with


CITYFIBRE

the UK only now reaching the 16 per cent mark. This is why the government’s £5bn investment and commitment to roll out full fibre broadband to every UK home is so important. It’s imperative we make up ground especially when you consider how data hungry we are as a nation. In fact, PwC says we’re expected to consume more data than any other Western European country over the next four years. Having robust, fast and futureproof digital connections is essential to keep feeding that appetite. Today there are around fifteen million ‘smart homes’ in the UK, i.e. a home where key features such as lighting and heating can be voice activated or controlled through phone apps, and nearly half of homeowners have said they intend to upgrade their homes with more intelligent technology. Right now, the majority of smart home technology is used inside the house, but fifteen per cent of users manage their house remotely at least once a day. Even so, we are still only scratching the surface of how the smart home will change the way we live. And with our homes now being an office for many of us, the potential is endless.

The difference full fibre can make Full fibre can revolutionise life in the UK. When it comes to business, many companies are struggling with data-heavy tasks and significant server strain, meaning employees are tapping their fingers while waiting for a file to be downloaded. Full fibre eliminates the problem, sending even the largest files at lightning speed. Recently, research from the Department of Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) found that areas with good

connectivity (500 Mbits/s) had lower long term unemployment, better productivity and were more attractive to companies looking to relocate. Moreover, because it is futureproof, it can continue to support companies, however high their data consumption needs grow. Beyond increased productivity, widescale full fibre connectivity gives employees the ability to work from home without worrying about their connection letting them down, providing vital flexibility and reassurance as the pandemic continues well into 2021 or if their employer opts for working from home to be a long-term arrangement. This allows businesses to reduce overheads while giving employees a superior work/ life balance. Simultaneously, having more remote working will expand the talent pool that companies are able to access, which is especially important when it comes to the growing digital skills shortage. Those benefits extend further still, with our full fibre network set to underpin Scotland’s implementation of Smart City solutions. With full fibre, it’s possible for local authorities to support a range of programmes that make a genuine difference for all citizens. There are plenty of examples across the globe, from digital tech making parking problems a thing of the past in South Korea’s biggest city, smart waste management trucks on New York’s roads or revolutionising the use of public transport in Iceland.

Adding value to Scotland There will be genuine economic benefits too as a result of full fibre – something which has taken on extra importance in the wake of COVID-19. According to research we commissioned with economic consultancy Regeneris, full fibre networks will have a significant impact over the next 15 years. Smart City initiatives could add as much as £1.5bn locally. Access to full fibre could also unlock £640m in business productivity and innovation, while a further £647m could be driven from start-ups, with the enhanced connectivity making it easier and cheaper to establish new businesses. All of this demonstrates that Scotland’s economic recovery will be built upon digital foundations, helping to create new jobs and encourage enterprising start-ups. Lightning fast internet access is essential for a world in which remote working is the new normal and digital shopfronts the primary way for new businesses to generate customers. The importance of full fibre was underlined by the fact that CityFibre contractors were designated as key workers during the first 2020 lockdown, enabling them to continue installing cables and bringing households and businesses online without interruption. To find out more about how CityFibre is supporting Scotland’s economic recovery by rolling out city-wide full fibre, visit www.cityfibre.com/gigabit-cities

Across Scotland, implementation will be driven by the specific needs of the local population, whether that’s a focus on traffic management, CCTV or something else entirely. What we do know is this will all be powered by full fibre.

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BRITISH FRANCHISE ASSOCIATION

Franchising as a career choice in 2021 There is no doubt that 2020 will be looked back on as one of the most challenging years, in which to do business, for a very long time. With COVID-19 running rampant across the globe, many businesses have been forced to make drastic changes to survive and many, sadly, have not made it, with more victims certain as we head in to 2021. This year has seen the economy shrink by more than 20% in the Spring, and we have also witnessed the biggest fall in GDP on record. The UK has suffered worse than other regions, due to being so dependent on the service sector. Businesses in retail and hospitality have taken huge hits, as well as the travel, tourism and transportation sectors among many others including music and events. Alongside all of this, redundancy has risen, in line with expectations, and is currently sitting at around 4.8%. The total cost of this crisis in the UK is currently at around £210bn, with government income also taking a hit, through reduced VAT, corporation tax and income tax. So, it is a brutal business landscape, but as with all times of disruption and change there are opportunities and positives to be drawn. For many thousands of people this year has provided a reason to stop the routine of their daily 9-to-5, and to re-assess their lives on both a personal and a professional level. Redundancy, furlough, and business closures have all meant that a massive swathe of the UK workforce has effectively been given a hard reset. Some of the people affected by all of this have found, or are looking for, new employment, some have turned to trades, others have looked to temporary jobs such as delivering Amazon parcels, and yet others have been given the impetus to start out on their own. This year is predicted to see a record number of companies created, with an extra 84,758 businesses setting up in 2020 compared with 2019. This is equivalent to a 12.3 per cent increase year on year, which is the highest percentage growth since 2011 and the highest actual growth on record. So, it looks like this is the year of the entrepreneur, but let us not get too carried away on this wave of enthusiasm. A look back at dissolutions showed that in 2018 – 2019 over half a million companies were dissolved, and that was in a far kinder economic climate. Small businesses have a hard time setting out at the best of times and it can be lonely and unforgiving out there as a start-up. But what is the alternative for someone who wants to set out on their own, but does not want to take on all that risk? Well, they could

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do a lot worse than looking to the booming franchise sector. Franchising contributes over £17bn to the UK economy and employs over 700,000 people. The sector grew by a staggering 70% in the decade between 2006 and 2016 and has showed no signs of slowing down. It is also worth looking at the business success rate, with fewer than 1% per year of franchised businesses closing due to commercial failure, and 93% being profitable. Compare this to independent small businesses (with 20% not making it past their first year, and 60% going bust within their first three years) and you start to see why the franchise model is so appealing. But maybe we are jumping ahead of ourselves here, let us look at exactly what franchising is. The Cambridge dictionary defines a franchise as: “a right to sell a company’s products in a particular area using the company’s name”. As a very broad definition this works, effectively you are buying into the franchisor’s brand. So, a franchisee is running their own business, but within an existing infrastructure. The benefits of this are many and obvious, as fundamentally a lot of the groundwork has already been done, and you have the added benefit of a recognisable brand name to operate within. There is a vast array of options available to anyone exploring this avenue for the first time. When most people think of the term ‘franchising’, they probably think of their local McDonalds, and yes, the restaurant franchise sector is massive, but it is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to available options. There are retail franchises

on the high street, for clothing, fashion, sports and medicine, there’s premisesbased franchising, dealing in warehousing, shipping, and product-assembly, and more recently there has been an explosion in services and home-based franchises. These can include everything from common, everyday services such as house maintenance, laundry, and landscaping to niche services such as tutoring and consulting. Home-based franchises can be more flexible around busy lives and can cover everything from administrative help to the creative arts. Aside from the variety of sectors, there is also a whole host of options in the size and style of the business that you might want to set up. The British Franchise Association (more on them later) recently hosted their annual conference and awards, at which they had categories for every shape and size of business, from individuals running real lifestyle micro-businesses through to multimillion-pound empires, with thousands of employees. Some of these franchisee empires can even challenge their parent organisations in terms of size and revenue and have developed their own sub-brands within the franchisor’s parent brand. It is important to recognise that investing in a franchise should definitely not be seen as an opportunity to ‘buy a job’. To all intents and purposes, a franchisee will be starting their own business, they will just be doing it with the relative safety net of working within an established brand and business structure, and all the support that comes along with that.


BRITISH FRANCHISE ASSOCIATION

As with any new business venture, the importance of good research and due diligence cannot be overstated. It is critical that anyone considering this as an option spends the necessary time and energy to look at considerations that will directly affect their success. These types of considerations will include start-up costs and initial investment (fees, supplies, operations, staff, sales, and marketing), the franchise agreement, the reputation of the franchisor, your local market and competitors, the list goes on and on. A good franchisor will guide and advise through much of this and some may include some, or all these costs, in the initial fee, but the ultimate responsibility will certainly be on you as the ‘business owner’. So how can you tell that you are talking to a ‘good’ franchisor? Well, most experts will begin any response to that question by talking about professional accreditation. In the UK, the British Franchise Association is the body that upholds standards and ensures that its members adhere to a professional code of conduct. As ‘The Trusted Partner’ in franchising, everything they do revolves around promoting ethical franchising in the UK, and ensuring standards are maintained at the highest level. Membership of the bfa denotes that

the business has passed through exhaustive accreditation processes, and is operating professionally and ethically. When considering this route, it is also key to consider your own suitability for this as a potential path for you. Good franchisees come in many shapes and forms, but, interestingly, many success stories in this arena come from an armed forces background. Experts believe that the reason for this is that these are people used to following the rules and operating within a highly regulated system. If you have dreams of wild creativity, for designing your own brand and for coming up with unique, pioneering, or unconventional ways of doing business, then it is likely that franchising is not the path for you. It is worth remembering that the most successful franchisees are ‘implementers, not innovators’. So, there is a lot of work involved, but why would you want to become a franchisee? Well, buying into a franchise gives you much of the independence of running your own business, whilst providing you with many of the benefits of joining an already established brand. For a start, the risk of failure is dramatically reduced when you come on board with a proven business concept and operating model.

When joining a well-run franchised business, you can also expect all sorts of other benefits such as training and ongoing support, shared marketing costs with the franchisor and other franchisees, and support in difficult times from the franchisor. On top of all that a good franchisor will be carrying out constant product and service innovation, which can be difficult to find the time for when you are busy with day-to-day operations. Add into the mix the financial benefits of franchising, such as increased buying power through economies of scale, being part of a franchise group, easier-toobtain finance from banks and other lenders, and the increased chance of a successful sale of the franchise upon exit, and it is easy to see why franchising is such an attractive prospect to many budding entrepreneurs. For those weighing up what the future holds right now, and thinking about striking out on their own, franchising should definitely be a consideration. It can be an extremely rewarding way of going into business ‘for yourself, but not by yourself’, and it really feels like this is the moment for UK franchising to step forward into the limelight. For more information, guidance and support about franchising please visit the British Franchise Association at www.thebfa.org

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BUSINESS PARTNER SPOTLIGHT

Scotland’s Railway aims to beat the winter travel blues

Image © Network Rail

By David Simpson ScotRail, Operations Director

We’re lucky in Scotland that we don’t suffer from the same regularly brutal winters that occur in many countries like Canada, the Russian Federation or the USA. However, that doesn’t mean we get off lightly when it comes to snow and freezing temperatures. And, that’s when Scotland’s Railway, a partnership between rail networks including ScotRail, Transport Scotland and Network Rail, leaps into action. Points can freeze up preventing services from accessing junctions or platforms. Up to three tons of snow can accumulate on the underside of carriages. In the past trains have been damaged by snow and ice falling from the undercarriage and bouncing back up. They need to be removed from service for safety checks when this happens. Scotland’s Railway’s advance weather warnings trigger response teams across the country. We monitor conditions overnight to make sure it’s safe to run trains the next morning. Meteorologists will map weather events as they approach, allowing us to deploy chainsaw teams and engineers to where they’re most likely to be needed. And if weather forecasts mean we need to run fewer trains, we’ll do our best to let you

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know by 4pm the day before to help you plan ahead.

social media channels will have full details of any changes to the train service.

A specialist £1m winter train has been designed to melt the snow and ice that can build up on key sections of track during the prolonged cold spells seen during a Scottish winter. The train is fitted with specialist heat-lances and hot air blowers that can be used to quickly defrost points and other vital infrastructure and it can also be used as a mobile depot transporting engineers around the rail network when roads are closed.

Our focus is always on our customers. We understand they have to get to their final destinations and so when disruption happens, we have agreements with other transport providers to let you use your train ticket (traditional paper version or Smartcard) to travel on certain buses, trams and the Glasgow Subway. We’ll let you know which transport is available by making station announcements, posting alerts on social media and live updates on our website and app.

A fleet of 10 Scottish-based snow ploughs are also in full operation throughout the winter supported by the railway’s helicopter unit which uses thermal imaging to identify spots where severe weather could take hold. Teams of engineers will also work aroundthe-clock through any severe weather to maintain key pieces of infrastructure and help prevent them from freezing up, while additional staff will be available to clear platforms and car parks for customers. In depots our engineers use specialist equipment to defrost our trains ready for the services ahead and in stations too we’re working hard, gritting platforms and car parks to make sure you can complete your journey. And on our trains, we’ve improved heating and insulation to keep passengers warmer on chilly winter days. We also work hard to keep passengers upto-date and, if severe weather is expected, contingency timetables will be created and customers informed. ScotRail’s website and

People know from their own lives the impact winter weather can have, and that applies even more so to the railway. That’s why we have invested in specialist equipment, so that when bad weather strikes we can keep our customers moving. Our staff will be working flat out, night and day, to get customers where they need to be, while ensuring that the safety of our customers and staff remains our number one priority. We’ve never been better prepared for winter in terms of weather monitoring, our specialist snow clearing train, snow ploughs, jet washers, space heaters and helicopter unit. But, you know what? Impressive as all of that is, I would give anything not to have a white Christmas and to get to the end of March without another ‘Beast From The East’ or ‘Storm Caroline.’


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Is the UK the Money Laundering Capital of the World? A new investigation has revealed that the UK is a hotspot for money laundering, with an estimated £90 billion laundered each year through the City of London alone. In this article, risk and compliance experts Intelligencia Training share further insight. In late September 2020, a major leak known as the ‘FinCEN Files’ exposed the UK’s significant role in facilitating global corruption and money laundering. A subsequent investigation by a global consortium of investigative journalists highlighted the need for improved defences in the UK financial sector and a reform of its red tape approach to compliance. As a result of the leak of law enforcement data, global banks have come under increased scrutiny from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) who state the quality of anti-money laundering controls is persistently falling short. The FinCEN Files revealed that global banks had transferred a staggering $2 trillion (£1.6 trillion) in suspected ‘dirty money’ over the last two decades.

Commenting on the leak, Mark Steward of the Financial Conduct Authority said: “What surprises me still is there is a view in some quarters that anti-money laundering systems and controls is a lot of money for nothing in return, and it’s a huge bureaucratic exercise in red tape rather than something that’s really important.” He further added the FCA have a number of cases in the pipeline and no major bank in Britain hasn’t been or isn’t currently subject to an ongoing investigation. The scrutiny of money laundering and anti-money laundering regimes isn’t something new to the UK. Following a report on economic crime last year, a Treasury committee said the true scale of the problem was unknown, with particular areas of weakness including property and online transactions. The report called on the UK government to regularly review efforts to minimise money laundering and it should not compromise in its provision in the face of post-Brexit trade deals.

Intelligencia Training, who recently began delivering the first apprenticeship programme specific to the role of Risk and Compliance Officers working in financial services, emphasise that investment into effective training and qualification progammes is crucial if the UK is to combat its money laundering problem. A spokesman from Intelligencia Training commented: “The delivery of training in this subject area has already proved successful in enhancing the knowledge and skillset of those involved in anti-money laundering and as technology evolves and we enter an age of digital money and payments, it is critical, now more than ever, to ensure parity of skills across sectors.” For more information, visit www.intelligenciatraining.com/riskcompliance-officer or contact info@intelligenciatraining.com or 01925 876051

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APPETITE FOR BUSINESS

Sheryl has an appetite for expansion Award-winning Aberdeen business to double its space at Moorfield Group’s Aberdeen Innovation Park to keep up with growing demand for services. Aberdeen-based niche Microsoft365 consultancy, Appetite for Business (“Appetite”), has agreed a new lease extension at Aberdeen Innovation Park, the commercial premises owned by Moorfield Group, the leading UK specialist real estate fund manager, on behalf of the Moorfield Real Estate Fund III. Appetite for Business, which is owned and led by award-winning business woman Sheryl Newman, is expanding operations and has doubled the size of its office in the building having agreed terms for Units D4 to D6 at Davidson House on a five-year lease. This lease extension follows the lettings announced in August this year to a trio of businesses at the James Gregory Centre, the serviced office premises on Aberdeen Innovation Park. Commenting on the expansion, Appetite managing director, Sheryl Newman said: “We have a talented and hard-working team in place and securing extra space was required to keep up with demand and continue our growth strategy to drive our reputation forward to clients across Scotland and around the world. “It is a real statement of intent to the team and our customers. “Covid-19 had changed the way people work forever and means they “now expect more from their technology”. “We recognised that Microsoft 365 had the potential to transform businesses, so we became specialists in it. We have been sharing the benefits of these tools to enable businesses to grow and what the lockdown has done is accelerate our client’s digital transformation journeys and highlight the importance of security, collaboration and communication. “Our clients are at the heart of our business. Lockdown has been tough for them and being able to support them with our

Sheryl Newman

specialist services during this period to help them remain operational and enable their staff to work remotely has been key. “Having been based at Davidson House for the past three years, I knew it was the perfect location and was very keen to remain here. The landlord and parks management team have supported me and pulled out all the stops to ensure that the new office space is tailored to the precise requirements of my business.” Hugh Canham, senior asset manager at Moorfield Group, commented: “We are pleased to have secured a lease extension with Appetite, a business which has been resilient during this challenging time. I would like to congratulate Sheryl and the team for all their hard work and initiative in developing and growing the business here at the Innovation Park.

We have a talented and hard-working team in place and securing extra space was required to keep up with demand and continue our growth strategy to drive our reputation forward to clients across Scotland and around the world. Sheryl Newman, managing director, Appetite for Business

“We remain committed to investment across both the Energy and Innovation Parks, with extensive refurbishment and reconfiguration programmes recently being completed at Crombie Lodge and the Enterprise Centre.” Appetite has seen demand for services grow steadily over the years with turnover increasing by 20% in the last financial year. The company, which has won various business accolades, now employs 10 fulltime staff with a closely aligned global associate team. Matt Park, associate of Knight Frank added: “This deal illustrates confidence in the quality product at the Innovation Park. The quality of space, along with competitive terms makes it an ideal environment for an innovative business with an appetite for success.” Davidson House offers occupiers flexible office suites with generous car parking. Additional services include a manned reception, concierge services, conference rooms, cycle parking and showers. Aberdeen Innovation Park is conveniently located approximately three miles north of Aberdeen city centre and close to the Third Don Crossing. Knight Frank and Ryden are joint agents for Aberdeen Energy & Innovation Parks. www.appetiteforbusiness.com

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CHAMBER NETWORK SUCCESSES

The Really Useful HR Company reflects on 2020 and it’s changes to businesses By Sheena Doyle

The Really Useful HR Company

As an outsourced HR professional my aim is always to add value to any business I work with and be their ‘own’ HR Business partner and this year has been no exception. The need for that trusted expert to talk to not just about HR issues in the business during a crisis but as a general support and ear to listen has proved invaluable. Many more business owners are seeing the benefits of engaging earlier with their own ‘go to’ proactive HR expert rather than waiting until they have a problem and being reactive. Looking back at 2020 it’s hard to believe that this time last year most of us had not even heard of coronavirus. It feels as if we have been taken over by the consequences of COVID-19 as it has affected almost every part of our daily lives. But there has to be some positives from this and the big learning

for business has been the importance of people and the contribution they can make to a successful business if they feel valued and trusted. As an employer the best you can do for your employee is to ensure they understand the importance of providing a great customer experience by providing them with a great employee experience. Where homeworking has been frowned upon by some business leaders the circumstances of 2020 have brought about a realisation that if you hire the right people and treat them well they will do a good job for you wherever the workplace. Where organisations have embraced technology to protect the employee experience and communication has continued between everyone then the rewards have been engaged employees who want to go above and beyond to protect the business. Where businesses have been in the fortunate position of being able to hire new employees the recruitment process has been done on-line with virtual interviews followed by virtual on-boarding to introduce them to colleagues and stakeholders. Businesses that have not embraced the use of technology as part of the employee experience and do not continue to do so

in the future may find their access to the best talent is limited. This will not go away as it has been shown that it can be done successfully and we are likely to see this become the norm with more homeworking in the future. It is also likely that a more hybrid model will become the new normal with a mixture of face to face and virtual employee experience management. Never assume everyone loves working from home and be very aware of where in the home they are working and whether it is safe and comfortable. Furloughing employees does not mean forgetting them and there have been great examples of employers having zoom socials and regular virtual get togethers to ensure they are keeping a protective eye on the mental health of their teams even when furloughed. Employees are then more equipped for the return to work because of regular, open and transparent communication and much more likely to stay long-term as they feel their wellbeing is a priority. Embrace technology, embrace change but most importantly embrace your teams and listen to them as they will be your brand advocates as your business grows in this new landscape.

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51ST INFANTRY BRIGADE AND ARMY IN SCOTLAND

Engineering in the Army The Corps of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) Who are we and what do we do? Formed in 1942, to do what Field Marshall Montgomery described as “keeping the punch in the Army’s fist”, REME is the Army’s professional engineering Corps. Employing over 11,000 personnel (both Regular and Reserve) REME is responsible for the repair, maintenance, inspection and recovery of all of the Army’s technical equipment; from drones to helicopters, tanks to the latest communications, radar and optical instruments. Wherever the British Army deploys, you will find REME personnel; from the frontline to working alongside our partners in the Civil Service and defence contractors in the UK. To achieve this, our officers and soldiers are selected and developed through a training system that runs throughout their career, constantly improving their knowledge, skills and experience (KSE). This training pipeline is the envy of many organisations as it develops behavioural KSE alongside the technical KSE.

What technical skills can we offer you? REME officers are employed as either land systems engineers or aviation engineers. To reach this point, they have all gained a technical degree and have a route to

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Charted Engineer. Additionally, REME officers will have led large teams, with most having commanded an independent workshop, employing technicians and with responsibility for a plethora of technical equipment. REME soldiers are employed in eight main trade groups (listed below); and most have a route to Incorporated Engineer: Avionics Technicians work on helicopters, unmanned air systems, and a small number of fixed-wing aircraft, maintaining a range of systems and instruments. Aircraft Technicians are skilled in metal and composite repair. They are responsible for the maintenance of Army helicopter gas turbine engines and airframes, including hydraulic and pneumatic systems. Electronics Technicians service and repair the Army’s electronic equipment, including optical and thermal imaging instruments, communications systems and radars. Vehicle Mechanics maintain and repair all automotive equipment across the Army, from motorcycles to main battle tanks.

Recovery Mechanics are trained to recover equipment, conduct fleet management and lead safety inspections of cranes and winches. Armourers repair and maintain weapons, and are skilled in turning and tool manufacture. Metalsmith and Shipwrights are welding and fabrication experts, qualified to work with every type of metal. Shipwrights specifically maintain the Army’s ships and boats, which requires additional skills like carpentry and composite repair. Technical Support Specialist (TSS) are responsible for stock control of technical stores. These include accounting for engineering tools and test equipment, demanding supplies and controlling calibration of precision equipment.

What does this mean for Scottish Business? Every service person, at some point, leaves the service. Most of these soldiers go on to have a successful second career outside of the service. This provides the civilian job sector with model employees. Army personnel have the skills you would expect of a service leaver: self-discipline, integrity, courage and respect for others,


51ST INFANTRY BRIGADE AND ARMY IN SCOTLAND

and many will have led teams. The difference with a REME veteran is that they all are experienced engineers and technicians. They would have employed engineering practices in the most austere environments, where a proactive attitude and flexible mind-set are essential. Many, will also be professionally registered with a Professional Engineering Institution (PEI). Some of the key attributes of a REME veteran are: Leadership. REME Personnel will have a track record of leading successful teams in an inclusive manner promoting values-based leadership. All would have undergone formal leadership training and have been selected for their current role in the Army based on their leadership potential. Most will hold professional accreditation for their leadership and management from institutions such as the Chartered Management Institution (CMI). Communications. Throughout their career, their ability to communicate will have been vital. Many will be skilled at explaining deeply technical problems to a non-technical management team. Professional Engineers. Most REME trades will achieve Engineering Technician after completion of their

apprenticeship. TSS differs from the other trades as they work towards the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, rather than a PEI. This is normally achieved within the first 5-years’ of service and is accompanied with them attaining the English equivalent of an SVQ Level 3 in Engineering Maintenance. There is then an option, for some, to read for an HND in an engineering discipline. Many go on to achieve a bachelor’s degree, which opens the way for them to apply for Incorporated Engineer with a PEI.

How can you exploit this talent pool? REME officers and soldiers have developed an excellent reputation as professional engineers and engineering leaders who can adapt to new challenges. Ex-REME personnel are widely employable. They are supported through their transition to the civilian sector by raja, which, as part of The REME Charity, specifically provides this support. raja will help you recruit these service leavers. You can advertise job vacancies to REME soldiers leaving the Army. We will help you to find the right people for your business.

What others have said about us? John Campbell, the former president of Scottish Engineering: “Scottish Engineering is the industry association for engineering and manufacturing in Scotland and we have been supporting raja over the last 2 years by connecting our member companies and wider engineering community with the raja resource. This has been a real win-win collaboration with a number of REME leaversfinding new career opportunities. Employers are really impressed with the skills, capabilities and ethos of REME service leavers and the unique contribution they can bring to business. I can’t speak highly enough of raja for their excellent work in supporting leavers through their transition period and connecting them with career opportunities so effectively.”

For more information, contact raja via email: rajareme@gmail.com.

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51ST INFANTRY BRIGADE AND ARMY IN SCOTLAND

What makes a REME Veteran? Vignette 1. Warrant Officer Class 1 (ASM) Kev Burke WO1(ASM) Kevin Burke is currently serving in Leuchars, Scotland. A native of Glasgow, since joining REME he has gained professional registration as an IEng with IMechE while also exploiting every available Army opportunity. 1) What made you join the Army, especially the Corps of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME)?

WO1(ASM) Kevin Burke

I joined the Army straight from school, at 16 looking for job satisfaction, opportunities to work overseas and better pay than was available in ‘civvy street’. REME was mentioned in nearly all of the leaflets and the common theme was their resourcefulness in fixing equipment in all weather, in some far-flung places around the world! The image of a team of mechanics lifting a power pack from a Challenger 1 main battle tank really struck a chord with me. I wanted to be part of that team.

2) What have been the highlights of your REME career so far? I have had a varied career; my first posting was to Germany working on Challenger 2 Tanks at 18. Later on, I served at both the Armoured and Royal Engineer Trials and Development Units, working closely with industry on urgent operational requirements for Iraq. In Afghanistan I led small multi-trade teams to maintain equipment, often at reach from logistical support chains, which tested my decision making and problem-solving as an engineering leader. Other highlights have included instructing young soldiers, gaining an HND in automotive engineering and working in Africa to design and deliver training on vehicles the Botswanan Defence Force had bought from the UK.

3) How does WO1 Burke differ from Mr Burke who first came to the Corps?

5) What transferable skills have you gained and developed throughout your REME career that make you stand out?

professional skills gained whilst in the Army in the ‘about us’ pages and ‘essential skills’ of company websites. I am people focussed and I have happily exploited new technology and techniques. I am also well versed in audits, assurance checks and change management; change is the only constant. Industry will find a broad spectrum of skill sets in REME veterans.

6) Where do you see yourself in five years? I leave the Army in 2022. For future civilian employment, I’d love to get involved in management, preferably within the engineering sector. I genuinely enjoy working with people, helping them to shine and delivering outputs as part of a wider team. I also want to continue working towards a degree, obtain additional professional registration and advance towards CEng status.

4) What has been your biggest engineering achievement?

Looking at ‘civvy street’, I see so many similarities between what employers are looking for and what veterans already have to offer. My military service has instilled self-discipline, punctuality, motivation, loyalty and the ability to lead and work in a team. Also, I’m seeing translatable soft,

I was the Artificer Sergeant Major (ASM) for a 60-person team of Brigade Support Group. We conducted the second line

Alternatively, if you are interested in joining REME and would like more information please visit https://apply.army.mod.uk/roles/royal-electrical-and-mechanical-engineers

I have matured from a young, shy teenager lacking any real direction and ambition into a confident, self-motivated engineering leader.

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(in-depth repair) Equipment Support, maintaining thousands of equipment items to keep them in the hand of the user. From planning the company training requirements to correctly training our people with the required skills for the equipment, to deploying and sustaining ourselves in the field. I can safely say that this was the biggest multi-faceted leadership task I’ve managed to date.


JOINT FORCE ALBA

New Year, New recruitment? It’s fair to say that 2020 was a year no-one expected. The COVID pandemic created immense change in our personal and business lives. Recruitment was no different. Many organisations implemented recruitment freezes when the pandemic struck the UK, which was slowly thawing over the rest of 2020. But for those who were recruiting, how we recruit had to change. There was greater use of technology, particularly video interviews and online skills assessments. But the pandemic also created opportunities to review ways of operating and ask why do we do things this way? How can we do things better? Additionally, 2020 has demonstrated the diverse skill-set and experience of military job candidates. Their support to the national efforts to combat COVID has been well publicised. From their strategic support helping national and regional Governments and NHS boards with their planning, to their ability to pivot and switch focus on almost a moment’s notice to what is needed from delivering PPE, building hospitals or conducting COVID tests. Their agility and focus on delivering outcomes has been of immense help to the nation in 2020. So if you want to improve your business outcomes in 2021, have you considered recruiting ex-Armed Forces? After all, not only are they highly trained in many areas Scotland suffers skill shortages in such as IT and cyber, engineering and logistics but their unique experience has provided them with an enviable list of soft skills including team leadership, resilience and an ability to cope with volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. If you’re on the fence, there are another 2 factors to consider. Firstly, many ex-Forces are eligible for up to £6,000 to spend on training at Level 6 or above in the SQF or Level 3 in the NQF. So if you’re looking at an Armed Forces leaver but they haven’t got the qualifications you need, they may be able to use those funds to access training that may be cost prohibitive for you. The second consideration is that the UK Government will provide employers of Armed Forces leavers with a Secondary Class 1 Employer NICs holiday on the wages of Veterans for the first 12 months of their civilian employment. This will come into force in April 2021. So it will cost less to employ a Service leaver for 12 months than a non-military person due to this saving. So how could you go about recruiting this highly valuable source of talent that 70% of your competitors are missing out on?

Firstly, ensure you are a signatory to the Armed Forces Covenant. This is an option for any organisation, regardless of size, industry or sector. It’s requires the organisation to make public commitments about how it will support the Forces community be that Veterans, service leavers, Reservists or military partners and families. Being an Armed Forces Covenant signatory highlights you as a Forcesfriendly organisation which will help you stand out when recruiting from the military community. www.armedforcescovenant.gov.uk/getinvolved/sign-the-covenant/

Raise awareness amongst your hiring managers of the value that ex-Forces experience and skills could bring to your workforce. This might come in the form of training to support them when reviewing applications, conducting interviews and onboarding new starts.

Review your processes and documentation to ensure that nothing in your recruitment process could be prohibiting ex-Forces from finding or applying to your vacancies. You may wish to consider writing policies specific to the Forces community, such as relating to Reservists training.

Joint Force Alba is the only Scottish ex-military recruitment consultancy. We support organisations across Scotland to recruit ex-Forces through our recruitment agency and our consultancy programme which helps organisations to recruit exForces directly. For more information see www.jointforcealba.co.uk

In your job adverts and during your selection processes, avoid stressing industry experience and instead place a greater weighting on skills which a candidate could transfer from another sector, including ex-Forces.

If you already employ someone with a Forces background, involve them in the above activities and consider if they may be appropriate to act as a specific support mentor/buddy for any new ex-Forces employees. Like anyone doing a career transition, an exForces employee will benefit from support but will also help diversify thought in your organisation.

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A PROMISE BY THE NATION. The Armed Forces Covenant is a promise by the nation, ensuring that those who serve or have served in the Armed Forces, and their families, are treated fairly.

So why not publicly declare your commitment to our Armed Forces by signing up? In doing so you would be among the 4,500+ UK organisations to have already shown their support. Organisations have also been continuing to demonstrate support for the Armed Forces during the COVID-19 crisis. However, with face-to-face Covenant signings not being possible, these have been taking place online. One such company to show its commitment was Isle of Harris Distillers Ltd who signed the document in November 2020. They were also presented with the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme Bronze Award. The Western Isles firm produces the award-winning Isle of Harris Gin and employs around 40 permanent staff members on the island. The Covenant was co-signed and the Bronze Award presented on behalf of Defence by Lieutenant General James Swift, Chief of Defence People. Signing up to the Covenant is straightforward and sets companies like Isle of Harris Distillers Ltd on the path to have their pledge recognised through the Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS). The scheme incorporates

prestigious Bronze, Silver and Gold awards, granted in recognition of pledges to support Defence and the Armed Forces Community. 2020 Gold winners in the Highland Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association (HRFCA) area were: Aberdeen City Council, Angus Council, High Life Highland, and Scottish Water. 2020 Silver winners in the HRFCA-area were: BASICS Scotland, Falkirk Council, Fife Medical Group, Horizon Security Solutions, Louise Worrall Wealth Management, Meldrum Joinery & Building Services, Moray Digital, NHS Highland, and Securitay Limited. To find out how you can support the Armed Forces, contact HRFCA’s Regional Employer Engagement Directors Roy McLellan at hi-reed@rfca.mod.uk or Ray Watt at hi-reed2@rfca.mod.uk.

Ron MacEachran, the Chairman of Isle of Harris Distillers Ltd, with the signed Covenant and (left) Lt Gen James Swift presenting the ERS Bronze Award.

Proudly supporting those who serve.


CHAMBER NETWORK SUCCESSES

Exterity’S CEO presented with Queen’s Award for enterprise Scotland-headquartered Exterity was presented with the Queen’s Award for Enterprise: International Trade 2020. Mr Robert Balfour, Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Fife, visited Exterity’s Head Office in Dalgety Bay in Fife to present the award to the company’s Chief Executive Officer, Colin Farquhar. Exterity, a venture capital-backed technology company established in 2001, has become a leader in innovation with extensive global reach. The prestigious

It is a tremendous honour and achievement to receive The Queen’s Award for Enterprise: International Trade 2020. It reflects our continued investment in R&D and great people.

Queen’s Award for Enterprise recognises Exterity’s ability to successfully execute on its global strategy in delivering the best professional IP video and digital signage solutions to its clients worldwide, while maximising its operating and financial excellence. Exterity, a trusted, financially stable and profitable business still led today by the founding executives, has experienced 85% growth in exports over the last three years and has a presence on every continent, providing multilingual sales and support around the world. Farquhar said after being presented with the award: “It is a tremendous honour and achievement to receive The Queen’s Award for Enterprise: International Trade 2020. It reflects our continued investment in R&D and great people, as we have successfully strived to turn our vision and focus on providing the best solutions into a marketleading, global company that that still

maintains its roots as a Scottish business.” The company is one of 220 organisations recognised nationally – and one of eight in Scotland – with a Queen’s Award for Enterprise. Now in its 54th year, the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise are the most prestigious business awards in the United Kingdom, with winning businesses able to use the esteemed Queen’s Awards emblem for the next five years. Exterity has a global presence with customers in multiple sectors that include corporate & finance, hospitality, stadiums & venues, broadcast & media and education. Customers include organisations such as AIDA Cruises, Bayer, BBC, BNP Paribas, Grand Hyatt Dubai, Lord’s Cricket Ground, The Open golf championship, ParisLongchamp, Parliament of Victoria, Okada Manila Casino & Resorts, and many more.

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ECONOMY

Economic turmoil across oil & gas sector with confidence about 2021 remaining low, according to new report

Business confidence drops to 2015 downturn levels Lowest ever recorded levels of confidence in international activity A fifth of firms project further redundancies in 2021

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ECONOMY

“Climate change and diversification – once seen as a threat to the industry – also offers new opportunities and our findings suggest the sector is starting to embrace change. As technology and innovation improve, driving down the cost barrier and driving up the return on investment, we can expect to see further moves into new greener spaces as the industry goes through a slow, but steady transformation.”

Reduced activity levels, project cancellations and workforce cuts as a result of the coronavirus pandemic have slashed business confidence across the UK’s oil and gas sector, according to an industry report released today. The 32nd Oil and Gas survey, conducted by Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Fraser of Allander Institute and KPMG UK, asked firms about the initial impact of CV19, how they expect activity to recover and how recent events have influenced industry views on future facing issues like the energy transition and the UK’s exit from the EU.

The findings do show an increase in the proportion of firms actively diversifying their operations outwith oil and gas, rising to 49% in this survey compared to 25% reported a year ago. A total of 57% say they are considering accelerating their plans in response to the CV19 pandemic. Lack of experience and skills within organisations has now advanced from prior surveys to become the most frequently cited blocker by firms in the sector, with 49% of respondents highlighting it as an issue.

The findings, which cover the six months to October 2020, provide a stark illustration of the economic turmoil which has resulted from the CV19 pandemic with confidence across the industry now as low as during the global industry downturn in 2015. Just 13% of contractors are working at or above optimum levels in the UK Continental Shelf compared to 47% a year ago, with 82% predicting a decrease in their revenue in 2020. A total of 23% of contractors report cancelling projects as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, with a further 34% putting activities on hold. More than three quarters of businesses (78%) are less confident about activities going forward, while only 1% are more confident. This net balance* of -76% compared to the +46% recorded a year ago and significantly below the 10 years average net balance of +15%. Worryingly, 58% of contractors expect the outlook to worsen in 2021, with licensees and operators reporting similarly low confidence levels both now and in the year ahead. The challenges faced over the past year are also reflected in reduced levels of production and exploration related work. The net balance reported for production related activity has dropped significantly, falling from +43% in 2019 to -47% in this latest survey. When asked a year ago what contractors were expecting for 2020, a net balance of +46% had been anticipating an increase, however the results now indicate an expected decline over the next year. While businesses typically report higher levels of optimism about their international activities, the latest results mark the lowest recorded levels of confidence in global markets in the history of this survey, the

longest running report of its kind in the UK. Since the same period in 2019, optimism dropped across almost three-quarters of contractors (70%) with 48% forecasting a further decline in the year ahead. The reduced levels of activity and confidence have also negatively impacted employment levels, with approximately half of contractors surveyed reporting a decline in their workforce, 22% of which report reductions which equate to more than 10% of their workforce. While the extent of the current reductions to the total workforce is not as severe as the levels reported in the 2016 downturn, around a fifth of surveyed firms said they expect to make further reductions in 2021. The value of the Government’s CV19 support schemes is illustrated in the report, with over three-quarters of firms utilising at least one of the schemes on offer, with particularly significant use of the furlough scheme. A total of 83% of contractors furloughed employees in 2020, affecting 35% of the workforce on average. Martin Findlay, senior partner at KPMG in Aberdeen, said: “From the significant oil price decline, which started earlier in the year, to a global pandemic, and localised lockdown in Aberdeen, the oil and gas industry has, once again, endured profound challenge and uncertainty. However, there is room for some optimism. The industry, unlike so many others, is incredibly resilient and frequently deals with instability and challenge.

There is room for some optimism. The industry, unlike so many others, is incredibly resilient and frequently deals with instability and challenge. Martin Findlay, senior partner at KPMG in Aberdeen

When asked how optimistic firms were about the long-term future of Aberdeen as an energy hub, almost a quarter (23%) report being not at all optimistic, compared to just 9% in 2019, with a further 27% reporting being only slightly optimistic. Shane Taylor, research and policy manager at Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce, said: “Over the course of this year we have seen drastic and unpredictable disruption to business globally due to CV19, combined with the collapse in oil and gas prices. Although government support has had clear value in supporting firms and jobs through this challenging period of suppressed demand, the only sustainable way to give businesses and workers clarity is a clear route to heightened levels of activity in the future. “The declining trend in the positive outlook for the future of the Aberdeen city region as an energy hub also emphasises the need to see rapid progress in some of the key projects which will underpin the region’s ability to transition successfully, such as the Energy Transition Zone. The Chamber has argued for specific funding for the sector and we’ve already seen the Scottish Government commit £62m towards an Energy Transition Fund focused primarily on projects within the North-east which will support these ambitions. “As we look towards the future, we need to see meaningful progress on allocating this funding and bringing these key projects on stream. A clear way to achieve this progress would be the UK and Scottish Governments coming together with industry to finalise the terms of a place-focused North Sea Transition Deal, one which sets out a pathway to ensure that the oil and gas industry and the skills and talent in the communities that power it act as key contributors in the aim to reach net zero.”

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CYBER SECURITY

A different take on cyber security

The pursuit of advanced technology is a truly wonderful endeavour. Every day my team and I have the privilege of working in and contributing to an industry that breaks new ground daily, relentlessly challenging the status quo with novel and innovative approaches to the conventional. We aren’t alone in this, the technology industry certainly has the greatest reach and impact of the moment. Tech is a gravitational force pulling the world toward our version of the future; the cloud, remote working and the promise of a productivity nirvana that arrives at the intersection of personal freedom and workplace harmony. Without the tools developed and deployed to achieve these laudable ambitions 2020 would doubtless have been a yet more challenging time for business. I’m pleased to say that our business and industry has played a critical role in supporting our clients and communities throughout the pandemic. It’s been a joy to see so many embrace modern tech tools, but more so to discover that after the initial bump that they actually enjoy them; didn’t see that coming in 2019! Against the difficult backdrop of COVID there have been wonderful moments or realisation; that so much travel was unnecessary and expensive, that home is your first investment and family, friends and community your greatest asset. I like to think of 2020 as a valley with old habits on one side and new on the other, 2021 will be the year we start to bridge the gap and I’m sure

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technology will play its part as we marry our want for shared spaces, experiences, inspirations and security with the freedom, creativity and focus that remote working allows. As we move in 2021 with the promise of relief on the horizon and we turn our minds to the future we want to shape its worth taking the time to consider the technological foundations for our ambitions and ensure that they are robust, responsive and secure. Tech tools are often complex, vast in scale and increasingly interconnected. If you want to maximise the gains you can make bringing these tools in to your organisation you need to ensure you build secure foundations, starting with the people and the basics; 1. Understand the risk. You should start with a risk assessment, consider what’s at risk, how it is at risk and what you would do if you were attacked (who, what, why, where, when). This is an invaluable exercise and one you should repeat frequently. It will enable you to prioritise first and place the software and systems within those priorities, not the other way around. You need to be in the driving seat when recovering from an attack. 2. Is everyone involved? Security is only as strong as its weakest link. Throughout 2020 attacks have focused on the individual, from phone calls and text messages to the familiar phishing emails and links to click. Involve your entire team in your security strategy and response from the top down.

3. Test yourself. Keep up to date with the latest threats, act on information and advice received and have an external party test you. 4. Test your systems and partners. Hire an independent to regularly test, challenge and feedback. A quality provider will welcome the test as an opportunity to learn, react and improve. 5. Make if difficult. If it’s harder for you its harder for the bad actor. Every users’ passwords should be complex and use multi factor authentication wherever possible. Patches and upgrades should be completed every time and critically you should trust your intuition; if it looks suspicious be suspicious. You’ll find further information at https://helpdesk.wardmanuk.com/ section/149/cyber-security When you successfully engage your team in these basics you’ll find that the technical responses are easier to frame, understand and budget, that the possibilities, opportunities and challenges are exciting and rewarding. The businesses I have seen flourish in 2020 are those that have most successfully adapted to the challenge; the future is a technological one and the more you understand the challenges the more benefits your business will reap. As we start to bridge the gap between old and new I’m excited to work with new and existing clients as they challenge themselves and us to achieve more with the technological tools at their disposal.


CHAMBER NETWORK SUCCESSES

Surviving and thriving during COVID times – the Booth Welsh story It goes without saying how tough this year has been for businesses in every industry and area of the world. Booth Welsh (BW) is a global engineering technology business based in North Ayrshire and is one of the more fortunate businesses to continue growing amidst the backdrop of the pandemic. With a focus on three key strategies of people engagement, adapting technology and business acquisitions, Booth Welsh has been able to make the most of the challenges 2020 has thrown at us all.

space where people could come together in the same way that they do in the office kitchen or meeting rooms to share ideas, jokes and generally just a supportive and friendly ear.

People Engagement

Today it has evolved into a solid community out with the office, where people support, update and collaborate together.

Internal communication isn’t easy at the best of times and with the majority of the workforce working from home, the challenge just became greater during this time. From day one, the business prioritised regular communication from the Managing Director including live streamed videos commenting on news announcements and what this meant for BW. The company also held live online Q&A sessions with an ‘ask me anything’ approach. It wasn’t always uplifting and positive news, but certainly honest and transparent. Many employees commented that this visibility and openness was very reassuring during uncertain times. Not being in the same place meant BW needed to think out the office box (literally) to keep culture strong. The team utilised an online platform called ‘Workplace by Facebook’ to build a virtual community. This online platform acted like a physical

Adapting Technology Booth Welsh has also been able to realise new business possibilities amongst COVID-19 disruptions. The company has been working in the technology space for a number of years. However, during COVID-19, a new world of opportunities has opened up across all industries regarding remote working and digital technology support. Capitalising on the engagement and innovation inside teams, the business has been able to adapt its external offering to support clients to work smarter, get more out of their assets (both people and plant) and do more with less. Whether that is increasing quality, safety, productivity, saving costs or time, BW have shared this knowledge extensively through running a number of showcase webinars on this very topic. This has informed companies on ways they can ‘build back better’ post

pandemic and resulted in new business enquiries for Booth Welsh.

Business Acquisitions Continuing on the theme of knowledge sharing and support. Booth Welsh favours a ‘Collaboration over Competition’ approach, often collaborating and sharing learnings widely within its network. During the pandemic, Booth Welsh took this to the extreme and acquired two businesses, one in digital automation, iTech, as well as investing a 30% share in an energy from waste business, TegCo UK. These strategic acquisitions have allowed for industry diversification into a sustainable new sector as well as complementing and extending the company’s engineering capability, vital strategies for the business to remain competitive post pandemic. Despite the challenges businesses are all facing daily right now, Booth Welsh has been able to innovate and adapt work practices to come up with strategies to suit today’s world. As a result, the team at Booth Welsh have been able to maintain a resilient business this year which can hopefully look forward to a bright future in these dark times.

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TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT

Three ways coaching skills can support your business in the new normal Coaching is missing from too many organisations. Often wrongly seen as the last resort, it can empower your workforce in ways that will accelerate business performance as well as support your people. Whether you think of coaching as a skillset or as a profession, a coaching approach offers immense value when it comes to personal, team and organisational development. Underpinning much of workplace life from corporate values through to succession planning and risk management, coaching skills provide a competitive advantage to anyone who manages a team or works in people management. Here are the three top reasons why coaching skills are indispensable for workplaces in the new normal.

1. Building a change-ready culture 70% of change management initiatives fail, but research from the International Coaching Federation (ICF) has found that high-performing organisations have more successful change management strategies in place and that those with strong coaching cultures are likelier to have better business outcomes. New problems, uncertainty and complex markets demand new thinking. Leaders, managers, and employees will benefit from coaching, so they are less resistant, better prepared for change, have higher resilience and more confidence to work with the unknown. Coaching helps build a culture that is always learning, where freedom and autonomy feed motivation and where workers can feel safe to try.

2. Leadership and management fit for the future The ICF estimates that the number of leaders/managers using coaching skills has risen by 46% in its 2020 Global Coaching Study. 93% of those had received some coach-specific training and 79% through accredited programmes. This supports the trend for our leaders to have better people management skills.

“Coaching has taught me the value of actively listening so that I am hearing to understand, rather than hearing to reply. This means that my relationships with colleagues are better, and we are quicker to get to the heart of work issues as a result.” Jimmy Paul, Consultant, CELCIS Leadership and management are being redefined and need a different set of attributes and capabilities to succeed in the modern and complex workplace. Leader or manager as coach is the new ideal with a good understanding of self-awareness and a clear focus on facilitation, trust, empathy, collaboration, autonomy, and a growthorientated mindset. Coaching supports leaders to be authentic, open and enables them to cultivate environments in which people can thrive. Building better communication, resilience, and problem-solving skills, coaching enables leaders to better engage, empower and lead others.

3. Unlocking your peoples’ potential Employees are an organisation’s most valuable asset. People who are recognised and appreciated are engaged in their work

“I believe organisations need to invest in all their people and not just their leadership teams. Invest in a top-quality coaching strategy which delivers a concise message of the corporate vision, values and aims - one where everyone benefits – employees, company, customers and stakeholders. Time, money and a clear vision of what is expected including the coach/es. If everyone is onboard, then results and performance will flow.” Nancy Spreckley, The Lennox Partnership

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and when encouraged to further their skills, are driven to success. Coaching will help your people reach a higher level of effectiveness and improve their self-awareness. As work also becomes more complex and functions change, our responsibility is to keep our employees relevant whilst also nurturing our talent pipeline. Coaching enriches careers, empowers self-directed learning, scales development, and stretches employees’ capabilities. It promotes autonomy, competence and relatedness and enables them to do their best work on a personal level, as team members and as contributors to the organisation’s future direction.

Coaching Skills Certificate This programme combines theory and participation to allow you to practise coaching skills in person, gain insights into how coaching is used and how it can be applied in your line of work. 26th and 27th January 2021, virtual

Free Information Event You are invited to the free virtual event to discover more about coaching and becoming a coach with the AoEC. 3rd February 2021, virtual

Practitioner Diploma in Executive Coaching If you are exploring your options on training to become a professional coach, our triple-accredited experiential diploma enables you to develop your own coaching model as you deepen your expertise and coaching techniques. Starting 27th April 2021, virtual Find out more www.aoec.com


TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT

Unlocking the potential of your workforce Apprenticeships in Scotland, across all levels, will be vital to our collective hopes of an economic recovery. The Scottish Government itself understands the importance of apprenticeships in responding to the effects of the pandemic to support individuals and the economy and is actively encouraging and even incentivising business to take on apprentices. The recently announced Apprenticeship Employer Grant provides employers with up to £5,000 if they take on an apprentice, including Graduate Apprentices. In addition, payments for employers recruiting Graduate Apprentices who have lost their jobs is being increased from £2,000 to £5,000 through the Adopt an Apprentice scheme. Introduced in 2017, Graduate Apprenticeships (GA) are growing in importance in addressing critical skills gaps and creating a talent pool for Scottish business. GAs enable employers to upskill their workforce – either new or existing employees – to meet the growing demands of business, allowing them to gain new qualifications whilst remaining in paid employment.

What are Graduate Apprenticeships? GAs are aimed at anyone over the age of 16 who lives and works in Scotland. All degrees are fully funded by Skills Development Scotland with support from the European Social Fund. Crucially, during these challenging times, this means there are no fees for either apprentices or employers. Graduate Apprentices spend approximately 80% of their time in work and 20% in university. And depending on their previous skills, qualifications and experience, they may qualify for flexible entry points on to the programme. The immersive nature of the apprenticeships means that candidates are adding value to their companies from day one by bringing academic knowledge back into the workplace.

Addressing Scotland’s skills needs GAs are developed in partnership with industry. They have been specifically designed to address critical skills needs, particularly to support key sectors of the Scottish economy. There’s a broad range of GA providers across the country, with a total of 13 different programmes available. At HeriotWatt University we currently offer nine programmes: MA (Hons) IT Management for Business

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Source: Skills Development Scotland, March 2020

BSc (Hons) Software Development for Business BSc (Hons) Data Science BEng (Hons) Engineering: Design and Manufacture BEng (Hons) Engineering: Instrumentation Measurement and Control BEng (Hons) Civil Engineering BEng (Hons) Construction and the Built Environment MA (Hons) Business Management MA (Hons) Business Management: Financial Services

The benefits to your business GAs are proven to bring tangible benefits to an organisation. Sandy Murray, Director of Apprenticeships at Heriot-Watt, explains “Research has shown that Graduate Apprenticeships can boost the performance of a business in a number of ways. For example, this could include increased productivity and improved service delivery all the way through to better talent development and retention and staff engagement. And we shouldn’t forget that Graduate Apprenticeships are also a great way to attract new, young talent into the workforce.” Specifically: They’re a great way to attract new talent to a company or to upskill existing employees Improved cost-efficiencies in training and recruitment - all GAs are fully funded by SDS The programmes are designed to develop skills tailored to the needs of your business

The work-based learning approach ensures practical application in the business environment They’re an excellent way to recover the Apprenticeship Levy the company may already be paying The diagram above is taken from the SDS 2020 Employer survey and it demonstrates how employers see the benefits from GAs.

GAs in action There’s no better way to understand the benefits of GAs than hearing from students themselves. You can read our success stories here.

A proud history and looking to the future Heriot-Watt is one of the largest providers of this pioneering programme. The university has a proud history of working closely with industry. Sandy Murray concludes: “People are often surprised to hear that Heriot-Watt has been offering work-based learning since 1821 and we think that demonstrates the ethos of the university and our continuing commitment to our students and employers at a time when we’re trying to help in the recovery of the economy. “Graduate Apprenticeships also provide a means to strengthen relationships between industry and educational institutions and help to identify skills requirements of the future. Heriot-Watt is looking forward to being at the forefront of that.” If you’d like to find out more, you can email the Heriot-Watt GA team at ga@hw.ac.uk or visit www.hw.ac.uk/ga


MAXIMISE YOUR POTENTIAL

Study an Online MBA at RGU Our internationally recognised range of online MBA degrees will help you to capitalise on your current experience and qualifications to allow you to take that next step in your career. Our MBA qualifications are highly applied and practice-driven to hone the skills necessary for career development. Our range of degrees include MBA Master of Business Administration, MBA Oil and Gas Management and our new award MBA Sustainability and Energy Transitions. You will also participate in our acclaimed Leadership Week event, take control of a business in an online simulation and apply your learning in a Consultancy Project. We have a variety of flexible study routes, which allows you to fit the course around your life and career. Start in January or September.

Apply now

www.rgu.ac.uk/mba-prog


TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT

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INSPIRING THE FUTURE AT H A M I LT O N C O L L E G E

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Fife College – supporting businesses to retrain and upskill their workforces By Jan Thomson, Director of Business Development, Fife College

The economic situation created by the coronavirus pandemic has posed significant challenges to businesses of all sizes across the country, and many are in need of support at this time. With an emphasis on supporting business engagement and growth, Scotland’s Colleges have an integral part to play in our economic and social recovery in the months and years ahead. Colleges are uniquely placed to react and adapt to the needs of the economy in order to help provide the skilled workforce that will be required. Here at Fife College our training and development offering delivers a number of diverse and dynamic funded training opportunities which can help ensure employers are in as strong a position as possible over the coming months. One major funding opportunity available to businesses to retrain and upskill their workforce is the Flexible Workforce Development Fund. The fund is now in its fourth year and Fife College has already supported 75 apprenticeship levy paying employers in Fife. With new funding announced in October we look forward to continuing to work with local employers to access their £15,000 and deliver their training requirements.

Over the last three years we’ve provided training through the fund in areas such as Health and Safety, Project Management, Management and Leadership, in-house upskilling programmes and IT and digital skills. The government has now announced that a further fund accessible to all small and medium enterprises (SMEs), who can now receive up to £5,000 each to help address skills gaps within their workforce and allow them to become more productive and efficient, and help these businesses prepare for the post-COVID economy. With funding being handed out on a first come, first served basis, we would encourage all private, public and third sector organisations to apply for funding as soon as possible. For businesses that may not be sure what kind of training would benefit them we are here to help - so get in touch and we can help assess training needs and work together to develop a training plan that meets your needs. One company that has benefitted from the fund is James Donaldson & Sons Ltd, a family business established in Fife over 160 years ago which now has over 1,000 employees and operates in over 30 facilities throughout the UK. The company has used the funding to invest in a six-day qualification in Leadership and Management through Fife College’s Andrew Carnegie Business School.

Their Chairman, Michael Donaldson, viewed his staff as the next generation of leaders at the company, so wanted to offer them support in their ongoing development. The Flexible Workforce Development Fund was a great resource for them, helping to fund training and achieve their goals when it came to staff development. It’s for that reason Neil said that he would, “recommend any business in Fife, no matter what size, to consider using the fund to help them achieve their business objectives.” And although James Donaldson & Sons is a larger organisation, with the latest round of funding announced by the Scottish Government covering all SMEs as well, any company can now consider using the fund. There are also other funded training opportunities available through Fife College including the recently launched Apprenticeship Employer Grant which can offer up to £5,000 to support employers when taking on a Modern or Graduate Apprentice. Our Business Development team are available now to discuss training requirements and support any applications, they can be contacted at sales@fife.ac.uk or by calling 0344 248 0132. For more information about funded training and development opportunities available at Fife College, visit www.business.fife.ac.uk.


CHAMBER NETWORK SUCCESSES

Dunbartonshire Chamber Member celebrates 25th anniversary by getting ‘together for business’ A Dunbartonshire Chamber Member celebrated their 25th Anniversary by supporting other businesses through the Covid-19 crisis. Columbus UK got behind the Chamber’s “TogetherForBusiness” campaign that brought a host of businesses together to provide support and advice free of charge. Columbus UK, a Managed Service Provider, offered to help members and non-members alike who might be struggling with their IT and telecoms in their new home working environments. Jason George, Head of Business Development, and his team quickly became a frontline resource: “When lockdown arrived, we became the digital equivalent of a first-responder to help our customers migrate from offices, shops and warehouses to home working literally overnight. We had to ensure that customers had the right communications, technology and security services to work from home and continue operating with as little disruption as possible. “Whilst we were incredibly busy ourselves, we still wanted to do what we could to support other businesses through a very difficult period. We helped numerous businesses with a wide variety of issues; from improving home broadband connections and providing mobile broadband solutions, solving laptop performance issues, setting up remote desktop services, guidance on using Microsoft 365 and Teams, as well as setting up reliable cloud back up services. Many businesses also struggled with legacy telephone systems and phone lines

stuck in offices so we provided VoIP-based, phone systems with Smartphone and PC Apps that members can use anywhere.” Jason added, “We are delighted that our goodwill during the early stages of the pandemic has been viewed very positively and a number of Chamber members have since become Columbus customers. We’ve helped an engineering firm with new business-grade broadband, provided a more flexible phone system, an IT audit and IT services. We’ve helped an accounting firm migrate their web site to Azure web hosting and we now manage and maintain their web site for them. We’ve also helped a local property development company move and consolidate their IT services with Columbus and many more besides.”

Beyond COVID-19 Jason is upbeat about the future and opportunities that lie ahead. Columbus UK has ambitious plans to grow its customer base for Business Communications, Broadband, IT and technology services in Scotland throughout 2021 and beyond, and do this in a sustainable and positive way that benefits everyone involved. Commenting on the past nine months, Jason said, “the one consistent message throughout the lockdown has been that technology is the ultimate enabler for all of our businesses. Now, more than ever, it drives our economy and without it, and the right support for it, this pandemic

could have gone very differently for many organisations. The pandemic also highlighted what an incredible team we have and what can be achieved when a small team really pulls together, has a sense of purpose and pride in what they are doing and rises to a challenge none of us have ever seen before.” Columbus plans to expand its operational team and support Dunbartonshire Chamber’s Building Bridges Skills Development Programme by using the Modern Apprenticeships and Kickstart schemes in preparation for a launch of new services tailored for a different way of working in 2021. Jason explains that, “when things do improve and restrictions decline, we expect that a lot of businesses will continue to offer home working combined with time in the traditional workplace and offices. Businesses will therefore require telecoms and IT solutions which provide the flexibility for both sets of circumstances, but most importantly offer increased reliability and security. To address this, we are strengthening our Managed Services portfolio with the addition of online IT Security Awareness Training, a managed Cyber Essentials Accreditation service, a Digital Vault and Password Manager and much more to ensure all businesses are better prepared wherever their employees may work in future.” www.columbusuk.com

The one consistent message throughout the lockdown has been that technology is the ultimate enabler for all of our businesses. Now, more than ever, it drives our economy and without it, and the right support for it, this pandemic could have gone very differently for many organisations. Jason George, Head of Business Development, Columbus UK

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CHAMBER NETWORK SUCCESSES

Jason George

Head of Business Development, Columbus UK

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ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Continuing to deliver despite COVID-19

In a year that has seen unprecedented challenges for all businesses PD Ports, one of the UK’s major port groups, is still just as passionate about offering exceptional customer service no matter the situation that presents itself. The recent challenges posed to businesses and the economy as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak are not to be underestimated. However, as a key piece of UK infrastructure, PD Ports has continued to run operations throughout the pandemic allowing vital supplies of food, construction materials and medical supplies to be transported to their end destinations around the UK. With over 25 vessel calls per week arriving at Teesport, shippers have been able to move cargo seamlessly from A to B. Additionally, with the help of a dedicated port-side rail terminal, the Port has been

Customer care is the lifeblood of our business and is embedded in every department, location and function across the UK. Frans Calje, PD Ports’ CEO

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able to provide logistics solutions to many customers across the UK, allowing them to move cargo quickly and efficiently. Offering more direct daily rail connections to and from Scotland than any other port in the North, Teesport is in a prime position to connect England and Scotland, and has been doing so effectively since the launch of its dedicated Scotland service in 2015. Throughout its history, PD Ports has earned a reputation as a reliable, safe pair of hands – a business that will always be there when needed and one which will work tirelessly to get the job done whilst always going the extra mile for its customers. This did not stop when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Instead, PD Ports adapted its service offering to suit customer demand, adding additional services where necessary to support the flow of goods to its customers. Working in close partnership with DB Cargo, flexible rail services have enabled customers to cope with peaks and troughs in demand throughout the multiple stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. As demand for e-commerce increases due to prolonged lockdowns, more and more companies are making the transition from

road to rail, resulting in savings on both efficiencies and costs. On average, when replacing road haulage for a Teesport to Scotland rail service, around 6,000 heavy goods vehicles are removed from the road, reducing congestion and saving approximately 2.3 million road miles, providing a reduction in CO2 of 2,975 tonnes. Frans Calje, PD Ports’ CEO said, “We continue to expand and strengthen our rail freight offering as it provides vital UK connections for our customers and delivers environmental and cost saving benefits. “Our partnerships with businesses such as DB Cargo, ECS Containers and P&O Ferries have laid the foundation for us to integrate our services, allowing us to offer faster and more frequent transit between Scotland and the continent to benefit our customers. “Customer care is the lifeblood of our business and is embedded in every department, location and function across the UK. As a business, we acknowledge that without our customers we wouldn’t operate. That is why we do everything within our power to help them be successful, and to support their future growth.” www.pdports.co.uk


CONNECTING SCOTLAND TO THE WORLD VIA TEESPORT FREQUENCY AND RELIABILITY POSITION TEESPORT AS A GLOBAL GATEWAY TO SCOTLAND Teesport offers more direct daily rail connections to and from Scotland than any other port in the north of England, running daily services to Grangemouth and Mossend. With over 25 vessel calls per week, Teesport allows shippers to move cargo with ease, complemented by intermodal rail connections.

For more information and to start realising the benefits of rail freight, please contact our commercial team. T: +44 (0) 1642 877000 E: enquiries@pdports.co.uk W: www.pdports.co.uk


CHAMBER NETWORK NEWS

George McKay

Inverclyde Chamber of Commerce appoints new Chief Executive The Inverclyde Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Board of Directors has confirmed George McKay as its new Chief Executive following a recent recruitment process. With a wealth of local experience and connections, over the past decade, George has been a member and contributor to Inverclyde, Renfrewshire and Glasgow Chambers gaining valuable insight into the wider Scottish Chambers of Commerce network across Scotland. George, who lives in Greenock, was most recently Senior Business Development Manager at Red Media in Glasgow previous to which he founded and operated his own successful business, GCM Creative. With over 30 years of experience, George has worked with a range of clients including Ultimo, Scottish Power, Sports Division and Discover Inverclyde, where George is a former director. Reflecting on the new appointment, George said: “It is an enormous privilege for me to be appointed as the new Chief Executive of the Chamber. Having lived and worked in Inverclyde throughout my life, I have always

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been passionate and an advocate for local businesses. I am looking forward to working with our membership and other partners to champion their successes further. “Make no mistake, this has been one of the most difficult years for our businesses and their employees. It is critical that all local businesses are supported and be provided with advice, support and opportunities to sustain and grow Inverclyde’s economy. “I look forward to meeting with as many of our members and the wider business community, together with partners to work together taking the Inverclyde Chamber forward. My door will always be open.“ Gavin McDonagh, Inverclyde Chamber president, said: “We are delighted to welcome George to Inverclyde Chamber following an internal review of ICC’s existing structure and the recruitment process. “Having owned businesses and with experience in the public, private and third

sectors, George has fantastic knowledge and a great network of connections. “George has all the attributes the Board were looking for the new CEO to have and we look forward to working with him to further the aims and growth of the Chamber of Commerce supporting all local businesses.” Dr. Liz Cameron OBE, CEO of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: “This is a great appointment for both Inverclyde and the Scottish Chambers of Commerce. George has contributed and been a strong supporter of the Chambers throughout his career. His talent, expertise and experience will ensure that Inverclyde Chamber takes forward its ambitious plans to sustain and grow the business community. “Inverclyde has tremendous talent and with the Board and Community will ensure the area truly flourishes, creating new jobs, rebuilding the economy for all.”


CHAMBER NETWORK NEWS

It’s time to move forward together By recently elected president of the Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce, Frank Gormanley. As we come to the end of what has been an extraordinary year in navigating our way through a global pandemic, the Scottish business community has collectively demonstrated great resilience in continuing to add value to stakeholders. This approach takes agility, planning, creativity and collaboration to overcome and here in Ayrshire our members have had their own challenges to endure with the Chamber doing all they can to support them during such uncertain times. Taking on the role of President at the Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce at any time, regardless of external factors, is a privilege and honour and I am aware of the challenges and opportunities that await as we move forward together. My thanks go to Lorna Gibson for leading the board over the past two years and for her wider contribution to the Ayrshire Business community. We are delighted that she is staying with us for a further year as a director supporting our ‘Forward Together’ strategy that will launch in early 2021. I would also like to acknowledge the work and commitment from CEO, Val Russell and all the Chamber team in delivering the Chamber vision to our members during what has been an unprecedented time for everyone.

excited to take Scotland’s third largest Chamber forward with fellow Directors and the team until 2022.

of focus, ensuring our members gain the best possible membership provision and experience.

Born and bred in Ayrshire, I have an intrinsic passion and enthusiasm for our wonderful county, the people and the businesses within it. As an entrepreneur and someone who has gained incredible value and insight from a mixed and adventurous career path, I am ready and

Of course there is work to do and our ‘Forward Together’ strategy will share how we plan to build on our previous successes. With a review of our digital offering, our mentoring programme and redefining how we support retail and tourism sectors to name just a few areas

With this being the final publication of the year, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you a safe and happy Christmas, albeit slightly different this year, and when we can (safely), I extend a warm Ayrshire welcome for you to visit and enjoy the wonderful place I call home.

Frank Gormanley

Born and bred in Ayrshire, I have an intrinsic passion and enthusiasm for our wonderful county, the people and the businesses within it. As an entrepreneur and someone who has gained incredible value and insight from a mixed and adventurous career path, I am ready and excited to take Scotland’s third largest Chamber forward with fellow Directors and the team until 2022.

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CHAMBER NETWORK SUCCESSES

A year in review: Capgemini renews pledge to the region By Innis Montgomery

Highlands Delivery Centre Lead, Capgemini

With the Covid-19 pandemic causing widespread disruption, distress, and unease globally, we were pleased to have been able to share some much-needed good news in Scotland. Earlier this year, Capgemini made the announcement that there would be 250 jobs created in the Highlands region, boosting our already 500-strong Scottish team. This is due to provide long-term stability and provide a great boost to the local economy. With the pandemic impacting the region’s tourism and hospitality trade, this could not have come at a better time.

Strengthened regional commitment While it feels like a lot of doors are being closed at the moment, we’re proud that these roles offer a great opportunity for

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people to make the leap into a career in IT, whether it be at an experienced or an entry-level position. This includes careers in areas such as remote infrastructure support, technical architects, cybersecurity, and project management. As we aim to promote from within, we encourage and support our team members to achieve their goals by providing opportunities to branch out and build skill sets. This means every member of our team benefits from the huge variety offered by being part of a global company.

Championing young people We are keen to show young people that we offer a wide range of prospects. Having a well-developed apprenticeship programme which has been running for over eight years, we are extremely proud that we have committed to the workforce of the future through training over 300 apprentices. With the support of Inverness College, Skills Development Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise – as well as the Inverness Chamber of Commerce – we’re delighted to be working with so many important and vital

institutions to help inspire the young people in the region. Additionally, we have also worked closely with Inverness College and supported students gain work experience to achieve their Foundation Apprenticeships. As we are based in both Inverness and Nairn, we benefit from being easily accessible for employees and students across the Highlands region.

Looking to the future With 2021 on the horizon, we’re especially excited for some new announcements for the region including the Young Person Guarantee, a Scottish Government commitment to ensuring everyone from the ages of 16 to 24 has the opportunity of work, education or training. We see this as a great opportunity to further our commitment to helping the young people of Scotland realise and capture their potential. We look forwards to the advent of the new year and hope to continue sharing good news when it is needed the most.


CHAMBER NETWORK SUCCESSES

EVi Charge Points discusses 2020 – Doom or Zoom? I don’t imagine that 2020 will be reflected upon with any great deal of affection by SMEs around Scotland or any other level of enterprise or organisation for that matter. EVi Charge Points went into 2020 with a good order book and contracts on the horizon to fill. The announcement from Boris Johnston on the 23rd March that the country would move into lockdown was not entirely unexpected but certainly threw a spanner in the works. Whilst we were unable to fulfil our obligations to our customers at homes and businesses to install their Electric Vehicle Charge Points, and furloughing the majority of staff, we chose to view it as an opportunity to review and improve our processes. Physical site surveys, a main stay of our service at EVi moved to the Zoom platform where we were able to speak with our customers directly, discuss their requirements and provide Zoom to Zoom advice on the array of EV charge points now on the market. This ensured the order book was maintained for our return to operations. Training was provided to bring new charge points to our portfolio and to provide continuous professional development for the team and a refresh and update on our subject matter expertise on our current charge points. This allowed the team to take an otherwise unavailable gap in the installation programme and keep them involved with the company. Utilising cloud based contracts and signatures reduced our requirement for paper based documentation and improved our time management across the board. Unfortunately, our planned move into the Solar PV installation industry due in April

was postponed due to the cancellation of NICEIC approved courses and this moved to August on the first available course delivery. With support provided by Business Gateway, we were able to have the team trained during August and are now in the process of MCS registration. With the announcement every 3 weeks by the Government and also tying in with the Scottish Government direction, communication with our customers was vital in maintaining our pipeline and we only lost one customer during this period. Our sincerest thanks go out to our customers who were exceedingly appreciative of the situation and stayed the course to support local business. Unfortunately, during this time we were made aware that the National companies and those in England specifically were flouting the rules and still carrying out work within Scotland.

The growth in the Electric Vehicle market over the past year has seen a 184% increase in the sales of EVs from Sep 2019 to Sep 2020 and a 38% and 21% decrease in Diesel and Petrol sales respectively. The announcement by the Government of the 10-point plan to include the move to 2030 for the cessation of new sales of Petrol and Diesel vehicles has shown a clear intent to move to the net-zero emissions target of 2050. The result of the past year has certainly been one of uncertainty. We have noted that there is now genuine interest in home and commercial renewables, no doubt due to how we are now operating in the majority from home. With the installation of Solar PV, Battery Storage and running electric vehicles as well as additional renewable energies, we hope to see a greener and invigorated 2021. Green and Easy, charge with EVi.

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BUSINESS PARTNER SPOTLIGHT

CalMac puts staff mental health on the agenda A fleet of CalMac employees has been trained to support colleagues who may be struggling with mental health issues. As part of the ferry company’s commitment to staff wellbeing, more than 60 workers recently qualified as mental health first aiders. Based across the network, they have been trained to spot the signs of mental distress and to be available for colleagues who need to talk about any concerns they may have. The training, which takes two days and is accredited by NHS Scotland, is open to all members of staff. The mental health first aid programme is the result of a wellbeing project set up by CalMac and the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT). This is in conjunction with mental health charity See Me and Scottish Union Learning, with funding from the Scottish Government. CalMac is also encouraging employees to access a range of online learning resources from See Me as part of their overall health and safety training.

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Tayloure Given, who works as a Customer Adviser for CalMac, volunteered to train as a mental health first aider because she wants to help people who are struggling with the stresses of maintaining a work/life balance.

duty to care for and to protect the people who work for the organisation. My goal is that staff work in a safe environment in which they feel supported, and that they have the chance to talk about mental health if they need to.

She added: “On busy days, we can take up to 200 calls in the contact centre and over the course of the day, depending on the conversations, this can take its toll. I want my colleagues to be able to reach out to me if they need to talk to someone, or most importantly, just someone to listen.”

“Mariners can be prone to anxiety or depression as they can be away from home for several days at a time, without the support of family and other loved ones. Knowing that there is help available and having colleagues who are trained to spot the signs can help.

Callum Macleod, Second Steward, is also a mental health first aider for CalMac. He said: “CalMac has gone above and beyond with the work they have put into supporting mental health. We have all struggled with our mental health at some point in our lives and giving people the opportunity to talk about it is a good thing.” Robbie Drummond, Managing Director of CalMac, said: “As employers, CalMac has a

“Training mental health first aiders is one way in which we can make it easier for people to speak about any concerns they have. At Calmac, we also have an Employee Assistance Programme, which offers free and confidential counselling, and access to a range of mental health awareness courses. “We want to remove the stigma of talking about mental health and to spread the message that it is OK not to feel OK.” https://youtu.be/Wn99Pz2Ylwc


CHAMBER NETWORK SUCCESSES

David Sibbald awarded MBE in Queens Birthday Honours for Services to Business and Charity in West Lothian This past year has been unprecedented, starting off in high spirits, businesses and communities soon had to adapt and learn to survive during this pandemic. As a Chamber we have seen the business community respond with compassion, working together to support each other while coming up with innovative strategies for survival. Lothian, with particular focus on his work with young people in the local community.

Covid-19 has forced us into a shift in habit for millions of businesses, accelerating us into flexible working that, prior to the pandemic, seemed quite a way off for many of us. In this new era of working from home, businesses of all types have been forced to embrace remote working practices and solutions; entering into online meetings with virtual collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams and Zoom meetings that can be done at the simple click of button.

He has long been a champion of youth engagement within the construction sector and has generously provided resources, time and finances to various projects over the past years seeking to give young people vital experience in the construction industry. He is also an avid fundraiser for the Lighthouse Charity and sponsors various awards which recognise achievement in technical subjects amongst schoolchildren.

Although many of us are looking forward to a time where we can get back meeting face to face, we can also see the benefit to this new working model and believe going forward there will be a mix of online and in person meetings and events. Looking back on this year, businesses main priority has had be survival and making their way through various lockdown restrictions. Although survival has been the focus of this year, there has been some good news for a local businessman. David Sibbald of Bathgate, West Lothian was delighted to be recognised in the

David Sibbald

Queen’s birthday honours list at the beginning of October. The generous local businessman who founded Sibbald Training and Cappers Group based in Blackridge was awarded an MBE for his long-term commitment to business and charities in West

Finally, he also plays an important role in promoting the role of entrepreneurial women in business through his activities within the Chamber of Commerce and sponsorship of a ‘Woman in Business’ award at West Lothian Business Excellence Awards. David is thoroughly delighted to have been nominated for this prestigious accolade and plans to keep up the good work in the future. www.sibbaldtraining.com

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FESTIVAL OF KINDNESS

Social Bite launches Festival of Kindness In a bid to spread some much-needed festive goodwill and kindness, Social Bite has launched a ‘Festival of Kindness’ and is asking Scots to donate meals, gifts and accommodation for those who need it most this Christmas. Following the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, homeless and vulnerable people need help and support more than ever and Social Bite has set a target of providing 250,000 meals and essential items over the winter months. Social Bite, with the support of Essential Edinburgh and West End BID, has installed two 10 metre tall Christmas trees in Edinburgh’s St Andrew Square and Glasgow’s Vinicombe Street and is asking people across the country to buy one extra gift, drop it under the tree and contribute to a movement of kindness. The charity has created a gift wish list of the things homeless and vulnerable people need the most – from a warm pair of gloves, a hot water bottle and a torch to good quality socks and toys for children to open on Christmas morning. Passers-by can drop their gifts at the trees in Edinburgh and Glasgow and take in the Christmas lights in St Andrew Square Winter Garden. All gifts will then be distributed by Social Bite’s dedicated team to those who need it most, just in time for Christmas. Monetary contributions can also be made at donation points across the cities or online

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for those unable to make it out. All money donations will be invested in three areas – food provision; gifts and essential items; and funding warm shelter and accommodation to those who are sleeping rough, in partnership with Glasgow City Mission and Bethany Christian Trust. Social Bite has already produced and distributed over 815,000 food pack and essential items to vulnerable people since the pandemic began in Scotland and the charity is hoping that the kindness of the Scottish public can bring this number to over one million items distributed to those who need them. Social Bite co-founder and CEO, Josh Littlejohn MBE, said: “With the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, this Christmas is going to be especially tough for Scotland’s homeless population. For those without a safe place to call home, a small act of kindness can mean the world. At Social Bite, we have seen some extraordinary examples of kindness during the pandemic and we’re asking people to come together and spread some festive cheer. “I would like to encourage everyone to make a financial donation or come and drop a gift at our dedicated Christmas trees in

Edinburgh and Glasgow and we will get them to those who need them most. Even the smallest of gifts, like a warm pair of socks or hot water bottle, will make a huge difference and we feel truly passionate that everyone deserves some sort of gift this Christmas. We’re really proud to have worked together with partner organisations to bring this project to life and continue to help further tackle homelessness in Scotland. Please join us and help spread kindness and hope this Christmas.” Social Bite has a track record of successful fundraising events, having previously hosted ‘Sleep Out’ events in Edinburgh, London and New York, with the latter attended by Hollywood A-listers Dame Helen Mirren and Will Smith in 2019. The Festival’s ‘Trees of Kindness’ will be installed in St Andrew Square in Edinburgh and Vinicombe Street in Glasgow from November 26th to December 23rd. The sites will be open for donations from Monday to Wednesday, 12pm to 2pm, and Thursday to Sunday, 10.30am to 7.30pm. All gifts should be new and unwrapped. To find out more or donate, please visit https://social-bite.co.uk/festival-ofkindness/


BLUESTREAM RESEARCH

Company launches to develop new innovative technologies and products Headquartered in West Lothian, Scotland, Bluestream Research & Development specialise in health sciences, engineering and technology sector projects and innovations. Founded by Kenneth Redmond, Bluestream Research & Development was launched to offer innovation project support and the company is keen for other firms, including higher education institutions and those involved in Coronavirus (COVID-19) treatment and prevention, to consider business to university collaborations.

engineering and health sciences experience and we are currently looking at developing a few projects, similar to our innovations, and deciding if they can be patented too.”

lobe dementia which is related to ten years previously suffering depression and others which are related to protein developments in the brain.”

The initial project that Bluestream revealed they are exploring is to investigate altering cancer in the laboratory.

Delivering a dedicated research and development service with primary inclusion of three months initial design, Bluestream offers expert innovation and patent support, ensuring all projects and developments remain fully confidential.

They state that their aim is to investigate the initial signs and symptoms of cancer and approach applications to similar laboratory ideas such as the USA chip for finding one cancer cell in a million.

Bluestream’s full list of development projects was revealed on their website in October 2020, with projects in cancer collapsing, embankment support and dementia alteration and prevention due to begin in August 2021.

Kenneth Redmond, Founder of Bluestream Research & Development, has also announced that they are in the process of researching and developing their own innovations across their specialised sectors. Redmond commented: “We have a few patents to consider based on our

Their second project in consideration is to investigate whether dementia can be altered or prevented with different intervention.

For more information on Bluestream Research & Development, visit www.bluestreamresearch.org or contact kennyr@bluestreamresearch.org.

Commenting on the project, Redmond added: “Dementia alteration can be based on initial genes before they deteriorate and a lot of dementia conditions are covered under a similar umbrella – including frontal

Bluestream Research and Development Ltd

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CHAMBERCONNECTIONS

CHAMBER CONTACTS

Scottish Chambers of Commerce Strathclyde Business School, 199 Cathedral Street, Glasgow G4 0QU T: 0141 444 7500 E: admin@scottishchambers.org.uk www.scottishchambers.org.uk President – Tim Allan Chief Executive - Liz Cameron OBE

Dumfries & Galloway Chamber of Commerce

Scottish Chambers of Commerce

Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce The Hub, Exploration Drive Aberdeen Energy Park, Bridge of Don Aberdeen, AB23 8GX T: 01224 343900 E: info@agcc.co.uk www.agcc.co.uk Chief Executive - Russell Borthwick President - Colette Backwell Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce & Industry The Mezzanine, Glasgow Prestwick International Airport, Prestwick, KA9 2PL T: 01292 678 666 F: 01292 678 667 E: enquiries@ayrshire-chamber.org www.ayrshire-chamber.org Chief Executive - Val Russell President - Frank Gormanley Cairngorms Business Partnership Ltd Inverdruie House, Inverdruie Aviemore, PH22 1QH T: 01479 810200 E: office@visitcairngorms.com www.visitcairngorms.com Chief Executive - Mark Tate Chair of the Partnership - Claire Bruce Caithness Chamber of Commerce Naver Business Centre Naver House, Naver Road Thurso, KW14 7QA T: 01847 890076 E: info@caithnesschamber.com www.caithnesschamber.com Chief Executive - Trudy Morris Chairman - Stephen Sutherland

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Eskdale House, The Crichton, Bankend Road Dumfries, DG1 4UQ T: 01387 270866 E: admin@dgchamber.co.uk www.dgchamber.co.uk President – Kenny Bowie Dunbartonshire Chamber of Commerce Whitecrook Business Centre 78 Whitecrook Street, Clydebank, G81 1QF T: 0141 280 0272 E: admin@dunbartonshirechamber.co.uk www.dunbartonshirechamber.co.uk Chief Executive - Damon Scott President - Stewart Rennie Dundee & Angus Chamber of Commerce 37 City Quay, Camperdown Street Dundee, DD1 3JA T: 01382 228545 F: 01382 228441 E: info@dundeeandanguschamber.co.uk www.dundeeandanguschamber.co.uk Chief Executive - Alison Henderson President - James Buchan East Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce 1 Golf Road, Clarkston, East Renfrewshire G76 7HU T: 0141 887 6181 E: info@eastrenchamber.org.uk www.eastrenchamber.org.uk Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce 40 George Street, 2nd floor Edinburgh, EH2 2LE T: 0131 221 2999 F: 0131 261 5056 E: info@edinburghchamber.co.uk www.edinburghchamber.co.uk Chief Executive – Liz McAreavey President - Jane Clark-Hutchison

Fife Chamber of Commerce Office 7A, Flexspace, Mitchelston Drive Kirkcaldy, Fife KY1 3NB Fife, KY2 6HD T: 01592 647740 E: info@fifechamber.co.uk www.fifechamber.co.uk CEO – Alan Mitchell President – Brian Horisk Forth Valley Chamber of Commerce Group (incorporating Stirling Chamber of Commerce) Suite 2, Scion House Stirling University Innovation Park Stirling, FK9 4NF T: 01786 448 333 E: info@forthvalleychamber.co.uk www.forthvalleychamber.co.uk President Lynn Blaikie Glasgow Chamber of Commerce 30 George Square, Glasgow, G2 1EQ T: 0141 204 2121 E: chamber@glasgowchamberofcommerce.com www.glasgowchamberofcommerce.com Chief Executive Stuart Patrick President - Dr Paul Little Helensburgh Chamber of Commerce M&T Builders Merchants, 22 Charlotte Street, Helensburgh, Dunbartonshire, G84 7PH T: 07789904687 E: info@helensburghchamber.org www.helensburghchamber.org.uk Chief Executive - John Clark Inverclyde Chamber of Commerce Room 5, Victoria House 5 East Blackhall Street, Greenock, PA15 1HD T: 01475 806824 E: seo@inverclydechamber.co.uk www.inverclydechamber.co.uk Chief Executive Officer – George McKay President – Gavin McDonagh


CHAMBER CONTACTS

Inverness Chamber of Commerce Metropolitan House 31-33 High Street, Inverness, IV1 1HT T: 01463 718 131 E: info@inverness-chamber.co.uk www.inverness-chamber.co.uk Chief Executive - Stewart Nicol President - George Moodie Lanarkshire Chamber of Commerce Barncluith Business Centre, Townhead St, Hamilton, ML3 7DP T: 0330 0947370 www.lanarkshirechamber.org.uk E: info@lanarkshirechamber.org.uk Director: Tracey Campbell-Hynd Lochaber Chamber of Commerce 15 High Street, Fort William, PH33 6DH T: 01397 705 765 E: membership@lochaberchamber.co.uk www.lochaberchamber.co.uk Chairman - Bruno Berardelli Chief Executive - Frazer Coupland Midlothian & East Lothian Chamber of Commerce Moulsdale House, Edinburgh College 24d Milton Road East, Edinburgh, EH15 2PP T: 0131 603 5040 E: info@melcc.org.uk www.melcc.org.uk Joint Chief Executives - George Archibald and Keith Barbour President – Archie Paterson Moray Chamber of Commerce Moray Sports Centre, Linkwood Road, Elgin, Moray, Scotland, IV30 8AR T: 01343 543344 E: info@moraychamber.co.uk www.moraychamber.co.uk Chief Executive - Sarah Medcraf President Carol Stewart

Outer Hebrides Chamber of Commerce Stornoway Business Hub, Stornoway, HS1 2XG, Isle of Lewis T: 07939 450 276 E: info@outerhebrideschamber.co.uk www.outerhebrideschamber.co.uk Chief Executive - Lynne Maciver Chair - John Moffat Perthshire Chamber of Commerce Saltire House, 3 Whitefriars Crescent Perth, PH2 0PA T: 01738 448 325 F: 01738 450 402 E: info@perthshirechamber.co.uk www.perthshirechamber.co.uk Chief Executive - Vicki Unite President - Stephen Leckie Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce Bute Court, St Andrews Drive Glasgow Airport, Paisley, PA3 2SW T: 0141 847 5450 F: 0141 847 5499 E: info@renfrewshirechamber.com www.renfrewshirechamber.com Chief Executive – Bob Grant President – Tom Johnston

Scottish Chambers of Commerce Strathclyde Business School 199 Cathedral Street, Glasgow, G4 0QU T: 0141 444 7500 www.scottishchambers.org.uk @ScotChambers Like us on Facebook Siobhan Divers Head of Content T: 0141 444 7509 E: sdivers@scottishchambers.org.uk

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Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce 27 North Bridge Street, Hawick, TD9 9BD T: 07771 865 758 E: chairman@borderschamber.com www.borderschamber.com Chief Executive – Emily McGowan Chair – Le-Anne Gillie West Lothian Chamber of Commerce Systems House, Alba Centre, Alba Business Park, Rosebank, Livingston, EH54 7EG T: 01506 414808 E: chamber@wlchamber.com www.wlchamber.com President - Billy MacLeod

Disclaimer

Distinctive Publishing or Scottish Chambers of Commerce cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracies that may occur, individual products or services advertised or late entries. No part of this publication may be reproduced or scanned without prior written permission of the publishers and Scottish Chambers of Commerce.

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THE OFFICE OF THE FUTURE

The office of the future The Coronavirus has disrupted most of the business industry and working from home has become the ‘new norm’ for many office workers. As many as 68% of working adults have reported that they have had to work in new ways since the pandemic began. As a result, Glass Digital have been researching how offices might change post Covid-19. For example, company owners are expected to prioritise touch-free technology, hygiene will be of the utmost importance and employers will do more to support workers’ mental and physical health. Among the new measures expected to be put in place, offices are likely to install air purifiers, hygiene stations and smart, voiceactivated and sensor technology. Utilising outdoor office space where possible and encouraging flexible working including fitting standing desks are also anticipated changes. To demonstrate these changes, Glass Digital have created an interactive slider comparing offices now to what they are expected to look like in 10 years’ time. Bridie Gallagher, Managing Director at Glass Digital says: “The past few months

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have been a whirlwind for most businesses, ourselves included.” “Business owners have had to adapt their office spaces according to new Covid-19 guidelines in order to have a suitable place for employees to work safely.” “Here at Glass Digital, most of our staff members have been working from home since mid-March and while we have tailored

our business around this model, we have made changes to our office environment for the future.” “There is no doubt that over the next 10 years, the current measures will influence how employers design their office spaces. For example, I predict that there will be a continued focus on hygiene and hands-free technology post Covid-19 to prevent spread of future viruses.”


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Profile for Distinctive Publishing

Business Scotland 21  

Business Scotland is the media publication for the Scottish Chambers of Commerce.

Business Scotland 21  

Business Scotland is the media publication for the Scottish Chambers of Commerce.