seven construction workers standing on white field
Photo by Scott Blake on Unsplash

As both a Scottish Labour and Scottish Co-operative Party MSP and Convener of the Economy and Fair Work Committee in the Scottish Parliament, I am interested in how we can encourage employee ownership models, identify barriers and support more businesses to adopt co-op models in my region of Mid Scotland and Fife, and across Scotland.

It was good to visit GS Brown Precision Engineering in Ladybank recently and hear about how their transition to employee ownership has encouraged staff retention, improved productivity, and secured a future for the company.

Thank you to Director Malcolm Dick for the helpful discussion and tour of the factory.  With the company soon to celebrate its 50th anniversary, I wish it continued success in the future.

If Scotland is to grow the number of employee-owned business and reach the target of 500, and meet Scotland’s wellbeing economy ambitions, further action is needed from the Scottish Government now to achieve this.  We need the Scottish Government to pick up the pace and encourage more businesses to take up the positive opportunities that employee ownership offers.

I support growing the co-operative economy and growing the employee-owned sector for many reasons amongst which are:

  • Co-ops are ambitious to grow: Co-ops are more ambitious, with 61% of co-ops expressing ambitions to grow compared with 53% of small businesses generally.
  • Co-ops are more resilient: Co-operative start-ups are almost twice as likely to survive the first five years of trading than start-ups generally.
  • Co-ops can improve productivity: Doubling the co-operative sector would grow the sector to 14,000 co-operatives. With the productivity boost that co-ops can bring, that could help improve the UK’s economic productivity.

We need the Scottish Government to promote these ideas in our economy and help to grow this important sector of the economy.