In less than three months, Scotland faces the most important Holyrood election since devolution. While parties and pundits will once again focus on the political and constitutional, it’s the overflowing economic in-tray that requires most urgent attention.

From rebuilding Scotland’s economy from the devastating impact of the pandemic to tackling the climate crisis, reskilling workers for the jobs of the future to addressing fragile growth, the challenges have never been greater.

Recent polling from Sevanta ComRes shows that it’s not just the business community that’s paying attention, with 52% of Scots now identifying the economy as their number one concern.

As ever, the aim is to deliver a competitive and sustainable economy that raises living standards, promotes higher pay, and delivers revenues to support public priorities. The best way to repay the astonishing efforts of our amazing health and care workers is to deliver a thriving economy that rewards them with pay rises, additional resources and leaves the era of austerity behind.

If we agree there’s a common destination for the economy, the forthcoming election will decide how we get there. That’s why we recently launched a Holyrood manifesto aimed at putting the economy at the centre of the debate. Along with outlining economic priorities for the next Scottish Government, it called on all parties to join business in a “Partnership for Prosperity”.

Government can’t do it alone. There is no quick fix, no snap of the fingers that will put us on the right path to growth. It will take hard work, preparation and collaboration with Scotland’s business community to get the economy firing again. With swathes of the economy still lingering in lockdown, there’s not a moment to waste.

News on the vaccine rollout gives us all hope. The announcement of a phased reopening of schools is an important first step to reopening society, and the further extension of rate reliefs has been welcomed by anxious businesses.

But the key point is that the hard work must start now. We need to lay the groundwork for a safe and effective economic restart that gets businesses and individuals back to work as soon as safe to do so. Getting on the front foot now will hopefully help lessen any lasting economic damage.

What does a post-pandemic Scotland look like? For CBI Scotland, the “holy trinity” of modern economies – low-carbon, high-skilled and better-connected – points the way. That means investing in an agile skills system that is more responsive to demand, prioritises lifelong learning, enhances the apprenticeship offer and gives more flexible funding to universities and colleges.

It means decarbonising buildings and heat sources, improving energy efficiency and revolutionising electric vehicle infrastructure – leveraging incentives where we can. Getting transport and digital infrastructure fit for the future would provide a much-needed fillip for flagging productivity growth.

Knowing that Scotland is a great place to live, work and do business is one thing. Telling the world is another. That’s why we need clear signals. Setting out a long-term tax strategy, reducing red tape and business costs and promoting an open data-sharing culture where innovation can thrive would all help.

Embedding a true culture of innovation and entrepreneurialism that harnesses our amazing higher education sector will bring investment. We must also stake our international claim by boosting exports and looking to new markets.

Business is not an antagonist to government. It’s a partner. From promoting diversity and inclusion to improving mental health, championing green behaviours to inspiring the next generation; business is a force for good. At its best, it’s an engine of progress that gives people drive and purpose. Right now we all have a shared purpose: to overcome the pandemic and build back better.

Tracy Black is director of the Confederation of British Industry in Scotland