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Skills for Scotland: Accelerating the Recovery and Increasing Sustainable Economic Growth



In the current financial climate it is vital that we work harder than ever to strengthen partnerships and collaborative working to achieve more with less and deliver better outcomes for individuals and employers. It is clear that partnership and collective responsibility between the Scottish Government, local government, public bodies, employers, business organisations, the STUC and trade unions, Industry Advisory Groups, SSCs, trade and professional bodies, learning and training providers and individuals is key to achieving our economic aspirations of higher productivity and increasing sustainable economic growth. Innovative ways of working together are

required to improve the efficiency, quality and, crucially, the impact of skills and training.

Working with employers, the organisations supporting them, and with trade unions demand for skills can be identified and stimulated, both supporting the drivers of and removing the barriers to long-term sustainable economic growth. Strong partnerships and collaborative working will help reduce duplication, increase integration and ultimately improve the support services available to individuals and employers and the outcomes arising from them.

To help strengthen the partnership approach to skills the policy commitments include:

  • encouraging a transformational change in the alignment between public, private and third sector partners to increase the collective impact on the Economic Strategy, particularly with respect to growth in the key sectors;
  • a renewed focus through the delivery of the SDS Corporate Plan on improved local service provision through Service Delivery Agreements;
  • improving the linkages between colleges and local businesses;
  • promoting increased university research collaboration and international links;
  • supporting the role of Community Planning Partnerships in planning and delivering local employment and skills support services;
  • working with employers, the STUC and trade unions and other partners to encourage more collaboration and collective action in Scotland to help increase workforce development, improve skills use, and create more high skill, high performance workplaces;
  • supporting the linkages between the new Third Sector Skills Partnership and skills and qualification bodies; and
  • hosting an annual skills and training summit to engage with all key stakeholders and ensure Scotland remains a strong, skilled, confident nation.

National Performance Framework and Single Outcome Agreements

Alignment across the public sectorThe National Performance Framework sets out the ambitions for a greater alignment of work in the public sector, greater partnership working and a more outcome based approach. The Framework also sets out the expectations for the entire public sector in Scotland - Scottish Government, local government, NHS, agencies and other organisations - to contribute to one overarching purpose of sustainable economic growth, with all performance management systems well aligned to a single, clear and consistent set of priorities.

Single Outcome AgreementsThe Scottish Government and Scotland's local authorities share an ambition to see Scotland's public services working together with private and third sector partners to improve the quality of life and opportunities for people across Scotland. Single Outcome Agreements ( SOAs) are an important part of this drive towards better outcomes. They are agreements between the Scottish Government and Community Planning Partnerships which set out how each will work in the future towards improving outcomes for the local people in a way that reflects local circumstances and priorities, within the context of the Scottish Government's National Outcomes and Purpose. All outcome agreements are uniquely shaped to reflect the needs and circumstances of the areas they cover and this same localised approach is required for skills development.

Strategic ForumThe role of the Strategic Forum is to promote more effective collaboration and alignment between members - Scottish Government, SDS, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the SFC and Visit Scotland - and to enable Ministers to give strategic direction in accordance with our Economic Strategy. Going forward we will look to the Forum as a key player in monitoring progress towards stronger partnerships and collaborative working across the public sector. The Skills Investment Plans for the key sectors are a key mechanism for strengthening alignment in public sector delivery to support industry-led growth.

Partnerships across the skills system

Skills Development ScotlandSDS is developing models of delivery which will combine all the benefits of a single national body - in terms of increased cohesiveness, scale and efficiency - with an improved local responsiveness to the demand for skills, to support local economic development and improved employability.

SDS is engaged in a wide range of partnerships, operational and strategic, at a local, regional and national level. For example, new Service Delivery Agreements are being developed with local authorities in recognition of their crucial role in skills development, as well as their role as the lead body for CPPs. The service delivery agreements are designed to enable SDS to work with local authorities to deliver local outcomes in line with SOAs.

SDS continue to develop and enhance these partnerships to change the way in which the people of Scotland learn, develop and utilise their skills, and to help businesses and organisations of Scotland build their own capabilities and put these skills to most productive use. The Corporate Plan for 2009-12 clearly sets out how SDS aims to bring greater alignment in the delivery of information advice and guidance on skills and learning and specific skills provision.

Scotland's schools, colleges and universitiesPartnership working is central to Curriculum for Excellence and links between schools (through local government), colleges, and universities with employers and other education and skills providers is key to its successful delivery. By working with employers and other partners they can help to bring life to learning and learning to life through contextualised learning: making it more relevant and engaging for young people.

We will look to colleges and universities to build on the strong partnerships already established, ensuring they can continue to respond quickly and flexibly to employer demand and new economic challenges or opportunities.

Colleges and universities should continue to develop partnerships with their local communities to address local issues. This will include closer alignment with CPPs and stronger links with schools, employers, professional bodies, other colleges and universities, and other local partners. Similar partnerships should also be strengthened at a national level and beyond.

For universities, this will include greater emphasis on research pooling, introduced by the SFC to encourage greater collaboration between networks of researchers to help build critical mass, and more international links and collaborations that strengthen Scotland's international profile as a leading learning nation, renowned for our research and innovation. The Memorandum of Understanding signed in April 2009 between the China Ministry of Health Talent Centre, Asiapharm and the University of Edinburgh (in conjunction with NHS Scotland) for a collaborative training programme for key hospital managers and pharmacists in China is an example of what can be achieved.

There are excellent examples of strategic partnerships developing between universities, research institutes and businesses across the food, health, environment and rural sectors in Scotland. These partnerships provide real benefits to the sectors and provide a strong foundation to build upon.

Employability supportUnemployed people, particularly those who have been unemployed for some time, often face multiple barriers to employment including those relating to skills, health, benefits and childcare. Established in 2009, the Scottish Employability Forum brings together the Scottish Government and key partners including COSLA, Scottish Local Authorities Economic Development ( SLAED), Jobcentre Plus, SDS, NHS Scotland, STUC, the third sector and employers to work together to remove barriers at a national level.

The Forum is supported and informed by the National Delivery Group comprising local employability partnerships and others to provide a more coherent, joined-up framework to deliver employability services at a local level. These partnerships have been developed with the Scottish Government and local government support and all sit within the framework of Community Planning. In the past year the Scottish Government has worked closely with the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations and others in the third sector to develop the Third Sector Employability Forum. This group will seek to develop employability support across the third sector and to enhance the work of the Scottish Employability Forum through a clearer articulation of the challenges faced by the sector in its work on employability.

The Scottish Government will continue to engage and support the Scottish Employability Forum, the National Delivery Group and the Third Sector Employability Forum to ensure that those delivering services directly to people seeking to move into work are supported to provide interventions that equip clients to compete effectively in the labour market.

Third SectorThe third sector makes a strong contribution to building a successful Scotland. The third sector can play a lead role in promoting sustainable economic growth, not only through many organisations' primary purpose, but through the way in which these organisations are run. The third sector can lead the way in giving equal weight to income generation and sustainability. The new Third Sector Skills Partnership will continue to champion third sector skills in Scotland and engage with the skills and qualifications agencies at a strategic level to ensure the needs of the third sector workforce are fully accounted for in their planning and delivery. The third sector has a crucial role in addressing local issues and building strong, sustainable communities across the country. Through the local third sector interface the connection between the third sector, local authorities and CPPs is being improved to help ensure that Single Outcome Agreements are delivered in the most effective way.

Modern Apprenticeship GroupModern Apprenticeship Frameworks in Scotland are developed by SSCs following consultation with employers. The frameworks are based around National Occupational Standards as set by the industry plus any additional training requirements highlighted by employers. When the drafting process is completed by the SSC, all new or revised frameworks are submitted for approval to the Modern Apprenticeship Group ( MAG).

MAG, comprising representatives from Scottish Government, SDS, the Scottish Qualifications Authority, the Alliance of Sector Skills Councils Scotland, Scottish Training Federation, Scotland's Colleges and the Scottish Trades Union Congress, ensures that Modern Apprenticeship frameworks meet set standards, keep pace with industry and occupational change and, where possible, have core skills embedded into the learning and teaching of the framework. All new MA frameworks are to be credited and levelled against the SCQF as of January 2010.

Over the last 18 months the first apprenticeships at SVQ levels 4 and 5 ( SCQF levels 8 and 9) have been approved, ensuring the wider availability of high quality and multi-level apprenticeship frameworks in Scotland. Opportunities for the further development of this will be considered.

Private training provisionPrivate Training Providers are a key partner in fulfilling the aim of developing the potential of people across Scotland. Private Training Providers represent a very diverse sector in Scotland. They can provide the hard edged skills both individuals and employers need, but they can also develop confidence, self esteem and reinforce self worth which can be used as a springboard for bigger and better things. This also provides a strong base of support for employers and communities to draw upon. The Scottish Government will continue to promote the contribution of training providers who are well placed to encourage investment in skills development by both individuals and employers.

Promoting partnership workingThe Scottish Government is determined to engage with partners in local authorities, enterprise networks, the third sector, business community, unions and colleges and universities to ensure that Scotland is an attractive environment for investment, with the skilled workforce and quality infrastructure required for success.

The April 2010 skills and training summit, Skills: Scotland's Opportunity, brought together key partners from the public, private and third sectors to look at options for increasing the opportunities for individuals and businesses to develop and use skills as best they can. Given the success of this and previous events the Scottish Government will host a Skills and Training summit on an annual basis, allowing us to continue to work with partners to ensure Scotland remains as a strong, skilled and confident nation.