About Nesta

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

Covid and the jobs of the future

The impact of COVID-19 on the labour market has been significant. Large numbers of people have been put onto Government supported furlough and many have lost their job or seen their businesses fail.

Some of this impact will prove to be temporary, but in some sectors the impact of Covid-19 has accelerated longer standing underlying trends – from bricks to clicks in retail, to more home delivery eating, to a mix of office based and home based working patterns.

These underlying trends, combined with a growth in other sectors of the labour market – for example in digitally based businesses, logistics and health and social care – mean that there are opportunities to help those affected by the impact of COVID-19 to transition to areas where there is sustainable work.

To understand the specific and local challenges that Covid-19 has created, Nesta worked with Rocket Science to develop a place-based approach to understanding the impact in local areas and the different skill development transitions it may be possible to support, encourage and promote.

Dumfries and Galloway, Dundee, and Edinburgh were selected to provide a range of distinct local circumstances to examine and use as case studies against which to design potential reskilling pathways.

Dumfries and Galloway was chosen as it consists of dispersed rural communities, with a strong dependence on agriculture, forestry and tourism. The Crichton Campus in Dumfries has proved to be a successful effort in keeping more of its local young people and attracting others from across Scotland.

Dundee was chosen due to its history of long term industrial decline, now succeeded by transformation through the development of its waterfront, the growth of education and medicine as well as rapidly growing small sectors such as gaming and creative. It is ambitious for its transformation and The Tay Cities Deal focuses on the transformation of skills and enhanced employment.

Edinburgh is the fastest growing city in Scotland, with a strong focus on public administration, education and health, a strong financial services sector, and a tourism and hospitality sector which has been badly affected by the impact of Covid-19. The Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal has a strong focus on growing the digital sector and building on the graduate skills from its four Universities.

Across the regions there are a few themes of common interest:

● Growth and sustainable industries

● Green economy

● The importance of data on labour market change to inform action on skills

● The Fair Work agenda

● How to get people from insecure gig-economy work into secure work

● The legacy of technology and digital innovation, such as the games industry, data science and data driven innovation

● Holding onto university graduates.

In thinking about how to support people who have been affected by disruption - whether due to Covid or the disruption to come as we look to transition away from high-carbon producing industries - this report recommends a model to support positive transitions through intelligence as well as local knowledge and positive relationships.

This work builds on Nesta's Rapid Recovery Challenge Prize, Open Jobs programme and Skills Taxonomy as we look to support an intelligent labour market through a time of drastic change and solve Scotland’s and the UK’s productivity puzzle.


Richard Scothorne

Director, Rocket Science

Shannon Anderson

Senior Consultant, Rocket Science