Key Points

  • First, none of the theories claiming that Scotland was a colony of England, that it suffered from systematic under-development in its economic history, stand up to much scrutiny.
  • Second, Scotland’s industrial structure, how the economy was organised in terms of production, is much more similar to the rest of the UK, than different, and it has been this way for well over a century.
  • Third, in terms of occupational structure, once again, similarities with the rest of the UK far outweigh the differences. Furthermore, there has been a process of ‘up-skilling’ rather than ‘de-skilling’ in paid employment. Even jobs in classical heavy industry, like mining and construction, have been transformed by technology and new labour processes.
  • Fourth, while a much higher proportion of the labour force is female, a process of labour market segmentation marks out women’s and men’s employment.
  • Fifth, a process of job polarisation has separated high-wage, high-skill jobs, from low-wage, low-skill jobs, while there has been a growth in employment in both. Middle-range jobs have suffered most in terms of deteriorating pay, conditions and prospects. Women and young people have most to lose from this process.
  • Finally, Scotland has moved inexorably to depend on jobs in businesses which are externally owned and controlled, and its economy is subject to considerable global shifts in economic fortunes, typified by the rise and fall of ‘Silicon Glen’.