Nicola Sturgeon has re-appointed John Swinney as deputy first minister, as well as making him the cabinet secretary for Covid recovery.
It is the first of the new appointments to Sturgeon’s cabinet, having been re-elected as First Minister by MSPs on Tuesday.
Swinney has been deputy first minister since 2014 and held the position of education secretary between 2016 and 2021.
The new role will involve Swinney chairing a cross party steering group on Covid recovery which is expected to hold its first meeting next week.
He will also take the lead on inter-governmental relations, public service reform, including within government, and the delivery of a number of transformational projects across government and wider society, the Scottish Government said.
Sturgeon said that the appointment of the Perthshire North MSP to the new role would help get Scotland’s recovery “off to the right start”.
She said: “Our first priority as a government is to lead the country through the pandemic and into a recovery that supports our NHS, protects and creates jobs, backs our young people and contributes to our ambition to be a net zero nation.
“Appointing John Swinney to drive cross government work on Covid Recovery is a key step in getting Scotland’s recovery off to the right start.
“How we begin our recovery is crucial to the kind of country we can become, and that means ensuring everyone, whether in government, the public sector, the business community or wider society is pulling in the same direction.”
Swinney pledged that he will bring opposition parties together in discussing how to work together in securing a strong recovery from the pandemic.
“Recovery in our schools, our health service, our economy and across our wider society is this government’s immediate priority and I am honoured to have been asked to lead that mission,” he said.
“I am determined that government will bring the same urgency that we applied to the actions we took to protect public health, to the actions we need to take to secure a fair and just recovery.
“I will be bringing opposition parties together next week to hear their contributions and to set out how I believe we can all work together to secure a strong recovery.
“As we recover we must also remember our commitments to improve the lives of people across our society and it is a privilege to continue to lead the work across government to deliver on the incorporation of UN charters and to deliver The Promise for our care experienced young people. “
Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie said: “It is right that John Swinney has been moved on from his previous role.
“He has left a wake of damaging failures behind him that require urgent action to fix.
“Putting him in charge of our recovery is potentially gambling with the health and well-being of the nation.
“While we wish him well, he must demonstrate quickly that he is up to the job.”