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Skills for Scotland: A Lifelong Skills Strategy


chapter 4
information advice and guidance: improving the provision of support services

To achieve our vision for skills it is not enough just to provide high quality training and learning and to stimulate jobs growth, we must also encourage and support individuals to access learning and employment.

Many adults face complex choices about how to improve their skills in a shifting labour market. Some people do not necessarily want or need more informati

on but are instead looking for targeted advice specifically for them or people like them. Some people face multiple barriers to participation in learning or work.

We need a support infrastructure for the 21st century that targets services at those who need most help and to smaller workplaces, which are less likely to provide training for staff. Clear information about the benefits of learning and advice on how to use learning to improve job and pay prospects encourages people into learning. We need to give the support that builds a flexible workforce and will allow people to make best use of their skills throughout their lives.

Our aim, therefore, is to strengthen the impact of this support infrastructure on the acquisition of skills through a service that gives individuals information, advice and guidance ( IAG) about careers, work and employment, education and training and funding. This service will be focussed on the learner, all-age in its approach, simple to use and understand, offer value for money and be accessible to all.

We will bring together the public agencies involved in delivering information, advice and guidance services and skills provision and build improvements around the needs of individuals.

This is in line with our work on simplifying the public service delivery landscape.The current operational separation of organisations restricts the level of service integration that can be achieved. We will put the individual at the centre and build improvements round their needs rather than existing organisations and provision of learning.

We will work with Jobcentre Plus to integrate job and labour market information with learning information, advice and guidance to better help those wishing to learn or find a job.

We will join up information on learning and individuals to provide comprehensive and accessible information on learning opportunities and will look for all learning providers in receipt of public money to include their learning provision on the National Database of Learning Opportunities so that this database can become a more effective national resource to promote lifelong learning.

We will bolster local delivery of information, advice and guidance services to develop the capabilities of local organisations already working with adults in the community.

We will ensure that the information, advice and guidance on financial support which Student Awards Agency for Scotland ( SAAS) provides for individuals undertaking study at higher skills levels continues to be appropriate and effectively targeted.

We will ensure that SAAS reinforces and builds on its partner relationships with other key bodies delivering information, advice and guidance on financial support for learners, so that there is a clear continuum of provision across all skills levels supporting learners within a single cohesive system, helping to develop an integrated approach to managing information across partnerships, for the benefit of learner.

We will improve quality standards to make sure individuals have a positive experience of information, advice and guidance services and to make it easier for them to recognise the quality and expected service levels of local and national provision.

We will raise the visibility of Scotland's information, advice and guidance services to individuals and to businesses, especially small businesses, so that these have a greater awareness of learning and skills development and easier access to opportunities.

case study 6:
John McBarron

photo of John McBarron

"I never thought I would be learning new skills at my age … I would say to anyone to give it a try."

Former welder turned social care worker John McBarron left school at 15 without a qualification to his name.

"I got an apprenticeship as soon as I left school and only got into learning when I was made redundant four years ago. Now I would recommend it to everyone - especially to anyone who is older and who thinks learning is not for them," he said.

John joined MPS Construction and Training in his home town of Johnstone and took a social care qualification at Reid Kerr College. He looks after the welfare needs of the company's young trainees.

With the help of learndirect scotland, the 57-year-old was the company's first employee to get involved in learning, but his boss William Cosh said John's enthusiasm has prompted other staff to gain new skills.

"I also think our trainees, many of whom have not had the most positive experiences at school, look at John and realise that you can go back into learning. They see it is not over for them and that can only be a good thing," said Mr Cosh.

John was named learndirect scotland Learning Employee of the Year in 2006 and is hoping to do a Higher National Certificate in the future.

He said: "I never thought I would be doing the type of work I am doing, but I love my job. I never thought I would be learning new skills at my age, but I am and I would say to anyone to give it a try. I'm very, very glad I did."