Summary

Scotland has a strong economy supported by a successful skills system. However, we must ensure that our skills system can adapt to meet the challenges and opportunities ahead.


Skills give us the ability to do things well. They are fluid and wide-ranging. While the ability to programme a computer requires technical skills, others relate to transferable abilities such as being able to think creatively, deliver as part of a team or successfully multitask.

Scotland’s Future Skills Action Plan recognises that, whilst Scotland is a highly-skilled country supported by a successful skills system that continues to deliver strong outcomes, we must ensure the system adapts to meet the challenges and opportunities ahead.

Socio-economic trends, including the global climate emergency, demographic changes and the uncertain impact of technology, necessitate that Scotland’s skills system evolves and becomes more adaptable.

We must continue to meet the needs of employers, learners, and the existing workforce, ensuring that change supports inclusive growth and responds to the global climate emergency.

We also recognise that our system delivers for all of Scotland and must take account of our unique geography and rurality.

Individuals and businesses will require access to specific technical skills training, for example to utilise new technology or equipment. However, more general skills training in personal capacity, including areas such as creativity and effective management and leadership, are vital to ensure everyone can play a part in the economy and successfully navigate an increasingly fluid labour market.

As Skills Development Scotland have set out in Skills 4.0 – A skills model to drive Scotland’s Future, meta-skills are the timeless, higher order skills that create adaptive learners and promote success in whatever context the future brings. These form a critical part of Scotland’s future skills mix. Technological developments have opened up a range of new possibilities. A range of views exist around the opportunities and risks presented by these changes and Government has a role in leading that debate, including in relation to the impact on skills. We recognise concerns around the pace at which technology could change the working environment and the need to take steps now to mitigate them.

As we take forward the next phase of this Plan, tackling inequality will be at the heart of the work we do. Delivery of this plan will therefore closely align with our existing efforts to promote inclusive, diverse and fair participation in the labour market, and support the action the Scottish Government is already taking to reduce these inequalities through A fairer Scotland for women: gender pay gap action plan, A fairer Scotland for disabled people: employment action plan and its Race Equality Action Plan.

We want to ensure people are equipped to enter the world of work, progress and enjoy a fulfilling career. No one must be left behind by the changing nature of our society and our economy.