2017 Trades House Lecture Looks to Wider Global Environment

2017 Trades House Lecture

On Tuesday evening (23 May 2017) Professor Graeme Roy, Director of the Fraser of Allander Institute, University of Strathclyde, gave the 2017 Trades House Lecture.   The lecture is an annual event hosted in rotation by the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow Caledonian University and the University of Glasgow. 

Professor Roy urged the capacity audience to look further afield than the big political questions that currently dominate our news feeds (such as Brexit and IndyRef2),  and  look  instead  to the wider global environment and the opportunities it presents. 

The Professor noted that Scotland's future success  would ultimately depend on how well we capture the opportunities from growth in emerging markets, take advantage of the new technologies of the 4th industrial revolution and support the transition to an economic model that is environmentally and socially robust.    

Looking first at Scotland's economy, Professor Roy reported that while the UK economy grew by 1.9% in 2016, Scotland grew 0.0%.    

Over the last ten years, output per head in Scotland has grown by just 1% (total growth, not annual). Indeed, most advanced economies have been plagued by weak growth, bringing the forecast of a 'lost decade' to reality.   

However, despite  such challenges, Professor Roy noted that Scotland is still without doubt a rich and successful nation. 

Key global  trends  were also given, including China being the largest economy in the world by some margin in  2050  followed by India. Indonesia  is likely to  rise to fourth.    Professor Roy suggested that  businesses in Scotland adopt flexible, dynamic and patient strategies to navigate these markets, alongside governments  playing an important role in assisting entry and ambition. 

Clear opportunities for Scotland were outlined, including a 4th industrial revolution marked by breakthroughs in technology.  Professor Roy illustrated this by discussing agile innovative competitors, such as Uber and Air  BnB, causing market disruption and ousting well-established firms faster than ever (or creating entirely new markets) thanks to more  effective use of technology. 

Professor Roy defined  the opportunities that Scotland should seize include positioning itself to take advantage of new developments as they emerge.  He said; "This means investing in our digital infrastructure and the skills and training required to be able to make full use of technology as it develops.   Secondly, as a country we also need to lead the development of these new technologies themselves." 

Professor Roy concluded his Trades House Lecture by commenting; "It's clear that we are living in an unsettled world. That being said, it's important not to overplay the risks that we face. The truth, as usual, lies somewhere between despair and over confidence." 

"The onus is really on business and policymakers to respond. But if we do, Scotland has much to gain."   

Keith Brown, Deacon Convenor of  the  Trades House of Glasgow, said; "This was a lecture jam-packed with relevant and insightful points, highlighting the very real  opportunities that Scotland could take advantage of.  It was refreshing and incredibly useful to be given this without politics colouring the information." 

He continued; "On behalf of The Trades House of Glasgow I would like to thank Professor Roy and the University of Strathclyde for making and hosting this important and valuable  lecture."