The upcoming Scottish Parliament Election is perhaps the most important in the history of the Scottish Parliament to date, as we attempt to rebuild the economy and our communities in the wake of the pandemic and come to terms with post-Brexit trading realities.

As the party manifestos are published, they perhaps leave us with more questions than answers. Business leaders want to know how our next elected politicians will support business growth and job creation. How will elections promises be funded? How will the next Scottish Government improve economic performance?

In the next two weeks, we will host the main party leaders to ask these questions directly.

For any politician who wants insight into what businesses in Scotland expect from them, SCC has produced a paper entitled Rally for Growth, a business-led action plan. It provides a comprehensive yet practical set of ideas that will be fundamental to ensuring our economy bounces back and is ready to grasp new trading opportunities here and abroad.

The plan calls on Scottish Ministers to pass a Business Growth Act within the first 100 days of the new government, encompassing the most urgent issues facing businesses right now. These actions target core requirements, such as: reducing upfront business costs; boosting international trade; upskilling and reskilling the workforce; major digital and infrastructure investment; business mobilisation on COP26 as well as faster action and increased investment around renewable energies; and, last but not least, redesigning our towns and cities laid low by the combination of pandemic lockdowns and structural declines.

Further, we have called for a major reset of the relationship government has with businesses. It has become painfully obvious that the priorities of business, which are shared by anyone to whom jobs and prosperity are important, are not aligned with the priorities of the Scottish Government. To address this, SCC has called for the establishment of a new Joint Economic Partnership that would oversee an ambitious programme of pro-enterprise, pro-growth policies to boost business growth and job creation.

One main focus of the next parliament should be our town and city centres, which are at risk. We need significant effort across the public and private sector to fill the gaps that are spreading like rotten teeth across the high street. We believe the next Scottish Government must establish a high street recovery programme that provides financial incentives and grants to micro and small businesses to support recovery and local communities.

As we plan to eventually welcome staff back to the office, we want to help develop a new work model strategy to facilitate the shift to different modes of working, which not only supports business restart and growth, but prioritises employee wellbeing too. Another focus must be on people, the most important part of Scotland’s economy. Our view is that the single most essential factor to our successful recovery is education, training and upskilling at all levels. A comprehensive approach to skills should be focused on a retraining scheme to support individuals back into the workplace, with targeted employment incentive grants and support for specific businesses to retain, retrain and reskill employees alongside a workforce-wide funded skills and training passport which empowers workers to reskill and upskill at any stage of their career.

There is no one silver bullet that will stave off the risks we face to our lives and livelihoods. But working together is the only way we can keep pace with the realities of how globalisation is changing and the implications for our ability to trade, attract talent to work and study here, and attract investment flows. We should play to our strengths and play to them globally, together.

Liz Cameron is chief executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce.