Scotland the Blog: Restored Pride on the football field and some tricky skills to master

More fantastic results. Scotland restored national pride at Hampden with a 2-O victory over Croatia. I was there with my nephew. We won the best non qualifier award. England of course qualified and I congratulate them. Really I do! 

I seriously want to congratulate Scottish based particle physicist Peter Higgs who won the Nobel prize and only found out when a neighbour stopped him in Leith and congratulated him! He shared his prize with a Belgian. It would have been really nice if FIFA had marked the occasion by allowing Scotland to qualify with Belgium!

Sir Andrew Carnegie’s legacy is also being celebrated in the Scottish Parliament. This illustrious Fifer brought mass steelmaking to the world and developed a legacy of focused philanthropy which is only seriously challenged by the Gates Foundation. This legacy helped provide some of the funding which supports the kind of theoretical physics which Higgs is at the heart of.

Carnegie was of course a Sir. Higgs however refused a knighthood in 1999, which with Danny Boyle puts him right up there in that select category of people who refused an award many would put their granny on ebay for. Higgs holds an emeritus professorship at Edinburgh University and is one of many world leading scientists who help us hold our own in the boxing ring of international scientific research. People like Higgs and our leading medical researchers sit right at the top of the skills pyramid.  I suppose you could call them apex human capital.

Morgan Stanley an apex financial services firm picked my home town Glasgow for a major expansion because they wanted to tap the abundant talent which Scotland is blessed with at higher levels. Edinburgh is becoming  the hub of a new biotech complex building on Scotland’s lead in medical science. Both Chloroform surgery and the robotic hand were invented in Scotland.

However For every physics genius, geneticist and bond trader you need people who can support their complex work. Those skills are in the middle of the pyramid. If you don’t get enough of them you are in trouble. However as the latest OECD skills survey shows, the UK lags behind in the numeracy, literacy and problem solving skills which make those well paying jobs with prospects possible.  Scotland didn’t take part in the survey which is perplexing. CIPD’s Chief  Economist Mark Beatson tells me they might not have wanted to pay the cost of this ovel research. Whatever the reason, we need to fess up to the fact that to deliver Scotland’s skilled future we need to raise our game as much as our national team did at Hampden.

There are signs. I have been invited to see new energy and oil and gas skills academies. The Wood Commission is hitting home. However as I travel through Scotland and visit our members at their workplaces, in the branches and educational institutions, I want to see CIPD Scotland fully involved in the debate. I want us to use our influence to make sure we have the right skills and the right structures to benefit from the abundant brainpower at work in our universities and leading firms. Government has focused a lot of effort on universities but it cannot forget the role of our colleges who need to provide the technicians , engineers, designers, programmers and skilled process workers we need. That way we can make sure that every citizen can  our abundant medical and scientific efforts. If that were the case the work of Higgs and others would have as enduring a legacy as Carnegie.

PS: I also congratulate David Bowie on winning the best dressed man in history award. My congratulations are tinged with a slight regret that once again my attempts at jauntily fusing various High Street brands in the XXL range has gone unrecognised. Maybe next epoch!

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