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Scotland gets minister for digital economy

Last week, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon reshuffled her cabinet and ministers and created a number of new positions. We are having a look what this means for the topics that are important to Scotland’s digital technologies industry and who you need to look out for when it comes to digital policy in Scotland.

Digital economy and public services

Kate Forbes, MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, has been appointed Minister for Public Finances and Digital Economy. This is the first time that a ministerial position with a clear digital remit has been created in Scotland. In addition to digital economy, she is responsible for digital public services. She will be supporting Derek Mackay, whose role has been changed to Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Economy and Fair Work.

The ScotlandIS team will have a first meeting with the new minister this week.

Digital connectivity

Connectivity has been moved from the rural economy portfolio into the remit of the new Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity. Michael Matheson, former Cabinet Secretary for Justice, has taken on this position and will be supported by Paul Wheelhouse who is now Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands (formerly responsible for business, innovation and energy).

Digital skills and inclusion

Only minor changes have been made to the portfolios that relate to digital skills and inclusion. John Swinney remains Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, supported by Jamie Hepburn as Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills (formerly responsible for employability and training). The position of the Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science is awaiting appointment as the First Minister has withdrawn her original nomination.

Digital inclusion seems to remain part of Fiona Hyslop’s remit as Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, even though the topic is not mentioned specifically in the description of her portfolio.

Cyber security

Cyber security remains part of John Swinney’s remit, as Deputy First Minister and within his wider responsibility for resilience. 

Brexit and migration

The position of Michael Russell as Brexit minister has been upgraded to Cabinet Secretary for Government Business and Constitutional Relations, still including responsibility for UK’s exit from the EU. A new position of Minister for Europe, Migration & International Development has been created to support Cabinet Secretary Fiona Hyslop. Ben MacPherson has taken on this role.

The full list of all Cabinet Secretaries and minister is available here:

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