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Skills Utilisation Action Group

The Skills Utilisation Leadership Group established a stakeholder group to examine how to increase the numbers of employers in the private, public and third sectors in Scotland who engage in activities to improve the effective use of skills in the workplace. The Action Group met seven times between January and April 2009.

Action Group Report

A News Release announcing the issue of the Action Group's report Reaping the Benefits: Encouraging Employer Engagement in Skills Utilisation was issued on 19 June, having been endorsed by the Leadership Group at its meeting on 9 June.

Remit of Action Group

The Government's Economic Strategy directly recognises the importance of human capital as being the basis upon which Scotland would compete in the world. Given recent economic events this is evermore central to Scotland's prosperity. Yet we have to recognise that skills utilisation does not sit front and centre for all employers in Scotland. This group is therefore concerned with raising employer interest for improving the utilisation of skills within their organisation.

In adopting a holistic approach, the advantage for the Scottish economy is in recognising that levers aren't simply those available to the Scottish Government. There is a range of market, business advocacy and policy levers that may be identified and used to drive demand. Some examples may be:

  • leadership campaigns;
  • encouraging the adoption of ambitious organisational strategies;
  • supply chain procurement practices of Scotland's biggest industries;
  • public procurement;
  • inspection and quality improvement strategies of the public sector; and
  • business support assistance potentially being tied to improvement in skills utilisation, i.e. investment assistance.

The role of the Action Group is to support the Leadership Group to help increase the number of employers in Scotland who see their sustained competitive advantage as coming through improved skills utilisation of their workforce.

The Action Group will also:

  • consider the audiences the Leadership Group should be seeking to influence and how those audiences are segmented, addressing barriers to understanding among the different groups and any constraints under which they are operating;
  • identify clear roles and responsibilities for each agent or stakeholder involved;
  • prepare a draft communications action plan; and
  • make recommendations to the Leadership Group by April 2009 on specific actions that should be taken on the basis of the key themes emerging from its analysis taking into account, among other things:
  • the needs of different organisations (including according to sector, geography, size of organisation and public/private/voluntary sector); and
  • the need to promote equalities issues.

Supplementary actions

Action Group to take forward -

  1. mapping work, including better understanding of the current mechanisms for the dissemination of good practice;
  2. how the public sector as an exemplar can increase demand for more effective skills utilisation;
  3. improve the opportunities for middle management to lead improvement activity;
  4. the role of public procurement and financial aid packages, including how to respond to criticisms about the imposition of unnecessary burdens;
  5. development of a cross-sectoral network for leaders - and innovators - of the future; and
  6. development of tools as a means of organisations reaching good decisions on the more effective use of skills.

[The Group concluded that the development of tools should be taken forward by the best strategies project]


The members of the Action Group are:

Col Baird (Chair)Scottish Government
Stephen BoydScottish Trades Union Congress
John Brown

Lifeskills Centre (Representing Business Organisations in Scotland)

Celia CarsonScottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

Claire Cassidy/Jeannette Hagerstrom/

James Taylor (Minutes)

Scottish Government
Kate ConnorConvention of Scottish Local Authorities
Brian DurwardNHS Education Scotland
Richard Garrett/Katerina RudigerUK Commission for Employment and Skills
Jacqui HepburnThe Alliance of Sector Skills Councils (Scotland)
Alan HughesScottish Funding Council
Katie HuttonSkills Development Scotland
Bob McGonigleMicrosoft (Representing Business Organisations in Scotland)
John McGurkChartered Institute of Personnel and Development
Linda MurrayScottish Enterprise
Graham YoungHighlands and Islands Enterprise


Minutes of meetings and associated formal papers of the Action Group.