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Shipbuilding: Evaluation of Intervention with Clusters and Industries


The Evaluation of Intervention with Clusters and Industries in Scotland aims to be a learning evaluation for Scottish Enterprise (SE) on the policy interventions pursued to date. The research objectives for this study focus on five principal learning areas: the appropriateness of cluster and industry policies and strategies; the rationale of programme selection and design in the light of strategic intent; the efficacy of cluster and industry interventions seeking to improve critical factor inputs; learning lessons and the adaptation and evolution of the approach; and broader SE support and resourcing. This report is one of the fifteen cluster- and industry-specific reports that have been prepared as background to the main report. In relation to the shipbuilding industry, the report focuses on: the rationale behind SE involvement in the cluster and the appropriateness of the strategy; how the cluster work has rolled out in practice and in light of expectations; and the lessons learnt and how SE should go forward.


The report has been primarily based on a desk review of the individual clusters and industries - collected and collated by SE and ECOTEC jointly. Nine interviews were held with industry representatives, public bodies and SE staff. The main findings and conclusions have been tested with independent sector experts and reviewed by SE stakeholders.


The current approach is appropriate and pragmatic. Interventions include: the preparation of the Action Plan; a draft Scottish Marine Industries Training Project; and the appointment of a full-time Head of Shipbuilding. No outputs or results have been produced to date as the Action Plan is in the early stages of implementation. The term ‘shipbuilding’ may be a hindrance in promoting an image of a dynamic, flexible industry. When large naval orders materialise, there may be acute shortages of higher level skills. In terms of trade skills, the main players are comfortable recruiting and laying off significant numbers of staff as and when required. There is a strong rationale for SE to intervene in the area of skills, with the skills element of the Action Plan positioned within the generic skills activity in LECs and the Learning Directorate.


The potential of naval shipbuilding should be recognised. A cluster approach to the development of the industry is not justified and shipbuilding and marine industries firms should be embedded within a broader engineering cluster. Linkages should be encouraged between sub-clusters and with the knowledge base to build critical mass and increase competitiveness. Intervention with respect to skills to anticipate market failure should be pursued through horizontal actions. The reports suggests that one SE staff member should play a dedicated role encompassing ‘industry-watching’, influencing, networking, and promoting a positive image, as well as working with the deliverers of horizontal actions.

Published Year 2009
Report Type Evaluation
  • Enterprise
    Sector-level support