Blogs + think pieces

Equipping Scotland for the future; Key challenges for the Scottish skills system

09th January 2017

The skills system in Scotland needs to reform if it is to meet the challenges it faces now and in the future.

A report published today by IPPR, Scotland, sponsored by FETL explores the current and future challenges facing the Scottish skills system and outlines the key areas for action.

  • Scotland’s economy faces substantial challenges over the coming years and the skills system will need to reform to ensure these challenges can be successfully met.
  • Scotland’s current labour market faces challenges around the ‘three Ps’ – on pay, productivity and progression – which need to be tackled to deliver inclusive growth.
  • Regional integration of the skills system and its sub-systems is required to reduce duplication and increase efficiency with learners and employers at the centre of designing learning to create a more responsive system.

The research found that Scotland faces a number of pre-existing challenges:

  • On pay, Scotland’s caught up with the UK pay rate between 2010 and 2015, but pay in Scotland and the UK has fallen in real terms in recent years.
  • On progression, fewer Scottish people progress from low skill jobs to middle and future fitting, high skill jobs than the UK as a whole.
  • On productivity, Scotland’s standing has improved against the UK average – but the UK has performed poorly over this time.

The IPPR Scotland report outlines six priorities for action for the skills system in Scotland:

1  embedding an outcome approach and setting a clear national purpose of the skills system – it is not clear what the overall purpose of the skills system is

2  regional integration of the skills system – not just college regionalisation but across the skills system

3  clarifying roles of learning routes within the skills system – there is too much confusion and duplication between routes at present

4  learners and employers co-designing a responsive skills system – the funding and implementation of the Apprenticeships Levy in Scotland offers opportunities in this regard

5  improving flexibility of learning so that learners can learn at a pace that suits their needs

6  increasing transferability of learning so that learning can be built up over what will be longer working lives, potentially in multiple careers and for multiple employers

Action in these six areas will prepare the skills system in Scotland to meet the long-term challenges it faces, and to be at the centre of driving the changes that Scotland will need to see over the coming years, the report concludes.

Russell Gunson, Director of IPPR Scotland, said:

“The skills system in Scotland needs help to deliver the economy that Scotland needs.

“In the short-term there are weaknesses in Scotland’s economy around pay, progression and productivity that the skills system can help to address. In the long-term, with demographic change and technological change likely to see a very different world of work we must make the decisions now that prepare us for this future.

“The Scottish Government has undertaken reform within parts of the skills system in recent years, but it will need to go even further to create a skills system that can help to deliver inclusive growth. In particular, we will need to see a skills system with a much clearer national focus, one that is integrated at the regional level reducing duplication, and a system focused as much on those learners who have already started their careers as those just starting out.

“By taking action now, we can prepare Scotland for the future, delivering a skills system that supports Scotland’s economy for the long-term.”

Ruth Silver, Founding President of FETL said:

“This is a significant report in that it makes clear that whilst Scotland has led the way in the regionalisation agenda , it is now put on notice that there is much more to do to make the skills system , involving all its players, to work for all in the future. For educators, employers and employees alike, the agenda is clear:  high level skills are a prerequisite for productivity to improve and that learners benefit by being better and relevantly prepared to be part of the skilled workforce of the future”.

Contact:
Ayub Khan, Executive Director, FETL.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

3 × 2 =