Summary

The plan highlights the vital role of the skills system in ensuring equality, wellbeing and sustainability and sets out key actions now and in the future to achieve our ambition.


Scotland’s highly skilled workforce ensures we are an ambitious, productive and competitive nation. Scotland’s skills system will be the foundation on which we will deliver these ambitions, supporting our people through-out their working lives, and empowering our business to take advantage of future opportunities. A culture of shared investment in Scotland’s future workforce will unlock the potential of our people and businesses and deliver inclusive growth.

Scotland’s Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board set out four key future skills recommendations for Government in its 2018 Strategic Plan. That plan recognised the crucial role of the skills system in ensuring equality, wellbeing and sustainability.

The publication of Phase 1 of Scotland’s Future Skills Action Plan fulfils our commitment to respond to those recommendations, which we endorse in full. It also reaffirms the importance of skills in helping people reach their potential and achieving our goal of an inclusive, growing and more productive economy.

Across four themes the Plan highlights the vital role the skills system will play in helping Scotland to respond to future socio-economic challenges, such as demographic changes and the climate emergency.

The four themes in our plan are:

  • Increasing system agility and employer responsiveness;
  • Enhancing access to upskilling and retraining opportunities;
  • Ensuring sustainability across the skill system; and
  • Accelerating the implementation of the learner journey review.

The Plan begins by outlining why skills are so important for Scotland. It then set out how the Scottish Government is currently working to meet the Strategic Board’s recommendations.

Key actions include:

  • Increasing our investment in workforce development to £20m per annum from 20/21, building on the current £10m Flexible Workforce Development Fund.
  • Addressing skills gaps and shortages as a central part of the Scottish Government’s response to the UK’s departure from the European Union.
  • The National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS) Manufacturing Skills Academy’s development of a catalogue of advanced manufacturing modules, which cater to and recognise a range of industry needs across the sector.
  • Skills Development Scotland, the Scottish Qualifications Authority and the Scottish Funding Council will develop and promote a clear definition of meta-skills, the timeless, higher-order skills that create adaptive learners, and fully implement the joint 5 stage skills alignment planning model.
  • Continuing to support industry-led Developing the Young Workforce Employer Groups.
  • Identifying opportunities to enhance access to upskilling and reskilling opportunities through the Scottish National Retraining Partnership in conjunction with the CBI and STUC.
  • As part of the £1.3 billion funding made available to City and Growth Deals, building on work to develop and deliver skills investment plans in each region.

We also outline our proposals to take the Plan’s second phase forward. In particular, we will establish a thematic approach to our work with stakeholders from across the skills system to identify and co-create the specific solutions required to deliver this plan in the medium to long terms.

Finally, the Plan summarises the findings set out in Scotland’s Future Skills Action Plan – Evidence and Analysis Annex which we have published providing more detail on Scotland’s strengths and weaknesses; and the long-term and emerging challenges facing the labour market.

Meeting Scotland’s skills challenges cannot be met by Government alone, and will require collective action from across society and the economy. The publication of Scotland’s Future Skills Action Plan’s first phase is a step towards achieving this goal.