We have made good early progress on implementation since the publication of the strategy. On 21 March, we published the technology sector export plan, and on Monday we announced the establishment of a centre of expertise in equality and human rights, which will help to tackle structural inequalities and support our vision of a wellbeing economy. An announcement will be made shortly on the new NSET delivery board, as well as the new chief entrepreneurship officer. The board will hold the public sector, business and third sector partners to account.
We undertook to work collaboratively with all sectors, and with individuals and communities, to develop delivery plans and agree key metrics. Those plans will be finalised. Since the launch of the strategy, Ivan McKee and I have met more than 150 stakeholders across all sectors.
Ensuring that businesses in Scotland can benefit from the opportunities of digitalisation will be central to delivering economic transformation. Can the cabinet secretary today provide an update on the steps that the Scottish Government is taking to support businesses, including those in my constituency of Midlothian North and Musselburgh, to access such opportunities?
We fully understand the benefits that digital technologies bring to businesses, and I am clear that economic transformation needs to be digitally driven. That is why, since January 2021, we have invested almost £50 million to help businesses of all sizes across sectors and geographies to take advantage of digital technology. The commitment to support the digitalisation of businesses is reinforced in the national strategy for economic transformation, which includes ambitious commitments, including the introduction of a digital productivity fund and the development of new digital support programmes to complement what already exists.
The Scottish Government’s work to establish a new centre for expertise in equality and human rights is welcome. It is certainly important that equality and human rights are embedded in the economic policy-making process. Can the cabinet secretary provide any further information about how the centre will help to put human rights and equality at the heart of economic policy development?
The centre of expertise in equality and human rights will build knowledge, skills and understanding among economic policy officials in order to help embed equality and human rights within the economic policy-making process, and it will help to shape the work that we do to build a fairer and more equal society, including actions to remove barriers to employment for disabled people, women, those with care experience and minority ethnic groups. We are continuing to develop the centre in partnership with stakeholders.
The centre will ultimately meet the strategy’s ambition to build a strong economy and tackle structural inequalities and, critically, will try to embed that thinking on equality and human rights in the development of policy, rather than trying to retrofit policies once they have been developed.