With as many as every seventh worker on the dole in this part of west central Scotland, the decision of the Massachusetts-based Wang computer company to establish a major production unit at Scotland's newest university, in Stirling, is seen as a significant boost for the country's technological industries.
Wang Laboratories Inc., which chose central Scotland in preference to Mexico, Canada, France, and West Germany, will provide an initial 700 jobs at its new computer plant. Many of the positions will be offered to young Scottish graduates trained at Stirling University, only recently saved from severe cutbacks in staff or ultimate closure.
Wang Laboratories has indicated that an additional 1,000 spinoff jobs will ensue from the operation of the word and data processors unit. A spokesman for the Scottish Office in Edinburgh has said the government regards Wang's investment as a ''coup'' for Stirling University, and the university principal has outlined plans for more research in the field of information technology.
Much of the credit for Wang's new project at Stirling has been given to a group called Locate in Scotland, a recently founded spearhead organization that is promoting Scottish skills in the United States. Scotland and the United Kingdom appear to be fast developing the technologies of the 1980s, including lasers, computers, and the microchip business.
The government-backed Scottish Development Agency is also helping with the promotion of science parks, research units set out in specially landscaped grounds. A project at Clydebank Business Park, near the locality's enterprise zone, is trying to establish small businesses on the site of the former giant Singer sewing machine company.
Yet despite encouraging signs of growth in Scotland's science-based industries, there is widespread stagnation in the country's economy. Fears are growing that 350,000 Scots will be unemployed by Christmas, and there is apprehension that the last important Scottish steel plant, at Ravenscraig in Motherwell, will soon close.
One of the most disappointing aspects of Scotland's grave economic situation is the country's failure to benefit from the vast oil wealth in th North Sea. North Sea oil projects have created around 60,000 jobs - but not all for Scots - yet whole sections of Scottish industry have been decimated by the recession.
World economic recovery could stimulate further activity in the North Sea oil fields opposite Scotland's east coast. At the moment, the rundown of investment in the petroleum industry off Aberdeen seaport is another worrisome factor.