LAST week the First Minister launched the UK’s first liquefied natural gas ferry in Port Glasgow — just over three years since Ferguson’s shipyard was saved from closure. 

Manufacturing is hugely important to Scotland’s economy, accounting for over half of our international exports and employing nearly 190,000 people across the country. 

In government, the SNP is working to make sure we have an innovative manufacturing industry that creates high-skilled, well-paid jobs into the future.

With government assistance a new buyer was found for the shipyard  — the last commercial shipbuilder on the Clyde. It was a real privilege to be a member of the task force set up at the time to help save the yard and witness first hand the commitment of Depute First Minister John Swinney towards securing a future for Ferguson’s. 

Of course this level of support from the Scottish Government isn’t unique to Inverclyde

When Scotland’s only steel plants faced closure, decisive action taken by the Scottish Government secured a new owner, and the steelworks at Dalzell and Clydebridge have reopened.  

A new buyer for the UK’s last aluminium smelter — based in Fort William — was secured last year, supporting new jobs and investment.

And work continues to secure a long-term future for BiFAB in Fife and Lewis, after the company was saved from administration.

I often hear people say that the days of big manufacturers that employ hundreds, if not thousands of people, are over for Inverclyde. Instead we should put all our efforts into smaller, more sustainable businesses, as if they fail they wouldn’t cause the level of pain we felt when Mrs Thatcher closed the shipyards.

Although it is right that we should be supporting the growth of new smaller businesses in Inverclyde — and the Scottish Government do — we shouldn’t set our ambitions on the fear of failure. 

It seems more and more that we define success whether or not we get new jobs at the expense of other parts of Scotland but I’ve always rejected that sort of I’m alright Jack attitude to jobs. 

That’s why a project going on just up the road is to be so welcome. The Scottish Government have invested £8.9 million in a Lightweight Manufacturing Centre in Renfrew, as a first step towards the establishment of a National Manufacturing Institute. The new centre will support highly skilled jobs and help put Scotland at the forefront of lightweight manufacturing. 

This is a major, transformative project being developed by the Scottish Government and Strathclyde University, alongside the Scottish Research Partnership in Engineering, enterprise agencies, Skills Development Scotland, the Scottish Funding Council and the private sector.

The centre will act as a hub with locally accessible strategic sites networked across the country. 

For too long it has been accepted that many people that are in search of well paid and highly skilled work need to travel away from Inverclyde to find it. I disagree. It should be our duty to bring that work here. 

That’s why I’ve written to Scottish Enterprise to discuss what more we need to do to ensure Inverclyde is in a position to be home to new manufacturing jobs created by the Scottish Government’s ambitious manufacturing Strategy.