Summary

Engaging across Scotland and key questions for system change.


This plan provides a thematic framework through which we can demonstrate the development and re-focusing of Scotland’s skills system.

We will adopt a thematic approach to engage with colleagues across the Scottish Government, agencies and skills system, and develop a set of initial propositions that can be tested at the National Economic Forum in December 2019. We will engage workers, employers, educational institutions and independent experts to harness expertise and deliver our vision for the skills system.

As we take this work forward, we will consider the regional and local dimensions of the effective skills delivery in the future including in remote, rural and island communities.

We will ensure continued stakeholder input into further updates to the Plan.

Increased system agility and employer responsiveness

How can we best enable long-term strategic partnerships between employers, business and industry, and colleges and universities?

Over the coming year, we will respond to the recommendations of two independent reports - one led by Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli and the other by Edinburgh College Principal Audrey Cumberford and City of Glasgow Principal Paul Little. These will explore the economic impact of our universities and colleges including how they can further improve engagement with employers.

How do we define the employer role within skills system delivery and embed talent development in employer’s workforce strategy?

We expect more further and higher education courses to be delivered to those in work, with course content co-designed with employers. Similarly, we will further embed the role of employers in the development and delivery of apprenticeships.

Working with the SFC and SDS, we will bring forward proposals in 2020 for consistent and coherent employer engagement in the skills system. This will build on the success of the Scottish Apprenticeship Advisory Board and Developing the Young Workforce Regional Employer Groups, and drawing on examples of employer best practice in investment in the existing workforce.

How can we ensure increased delivery of high level skills and work based learning in Scotland’s skills system?

We will take forward with both SFC and SDS and colleges, universities and employers how we can best support a wide range of in work retraining and upskilling opportunities. These will include the further development of Graduate Apprenticeships to ensure they add value to Scotland’s economy, increase their responsiveness to both employer and learner demands; and recognise the importance of supporting our small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

More opportunities to upskill and retrain

How do we respond to emerging technologies, digitalisation, and automation, recognising they will fundamentally alter the nature of work and skills requirements?

Responding to the challenges and opportunities of digitalisation is a major cross-cutting issue for Government. As part of our response, we will develop an Artificial Intelligence (AI) Strategy which will help to ensure that Scotland maximises the potential economic and social benefits of AI and sends a strong signal to the world about our ambition. We will establish Research Data Scotland to enable our data to be used for trustworthy research in the public interest. Skills will be a key work stream for the development of the Strategy.

How should we continue to deliver greater flexibility and modularisation to enable more routes into progressive employment?

We will explore flexible incentives for all relevant stakeholders, including colleges, universities and training providers, to develop new approaches to upskilling and lifelong learning. This will include, for example, more flexible and online delivery models, and developing ‘micro-credentials’ that are recognised by industry and professional bodies.

We will also introduce greater flexibility in the delivery of apprenticeships, while retaining the quality of the training they provide, in response to industry and learner demand. As an example, we are piloting one year Foundation Apprenticeships in 2019/20.

Ensuring sustainability of the system

How can the Scottish skills system respond to the challenges posed by Brexit and support our economic competitiveness in the years ahead?

The United Kingdom’s expected exit from the European Union continues to create uncertainty across Scotland’s economy. The Scottish Government is ready to mitigate as far as possible, any immediate consequences of Brexit such as job losses, lack of future access to skilled labour or loss of existing skilled workers.

What role should alternative funding mechanisms, including Financial Transactions such as training loans for employers and individuals, play in funding future skills delivery?

In developing more personalised skills offers for individuals and employers we will consider additional opportunities and funding models for them to access support through the skills system.

How do we ensure greater collective investment in our existing workforce?

As the skills system provides increasing levels of support to those already in work, we will encourage employers to invest in their workforce. We will build on recent experience through the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland, where the early success of the Manufacturing Skills Academy has been a demonstration of how long term skills planning by companies is being delivered on a co-funding model between industry and the public sector.

Accelerate Learner Journey Review implementation

How do we ensure joint working and informed decisions about the balance and volume of further and higher education and wider skills provision in Scotland?

We will make acceleration of the implementation of the learner journey programme integral to the delivery of Scotland’s Future Skills Action Plan. We will develop a one system approach to fully aligned skills provision via our agencies, the Scottish Funding Council and Skills Development Scotland, and maximise informed learner choice.

How do we improve progression through the education and skills system ensuring this is as seamless as possible?

Building on the engagement in place via the Learner Journey Implementation Group with learners, providers and employers, we will adopt a more systematic approach that will drive improved articulation between school, college and university and other training providers.

How do we accommodate non-linear pathways more effectively within the skills system?

We will ensure that those who do not follow the traditional route through school into training, further and higher education will continue to be supported.