Skills delivery landscape: independent review


The independent review of the skills delivery landscape was initiated to ensure the public body landscape for skills remains fit to meet the challenges and opportunities of the future.

This forms part of the work to deliver an agile, people-centred skills system, built around collaboration, which meets the ambitions of the National Strategy for Economic Transformation and the Scottish Government’s response to the Scottish Funding Council’s review of coherent provision and sustainability

The review focussed on the skills functions of Scotland's national public bodies including Skills Development Scotland (SDS) and the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), including the design and delivery of apprenticeship programmes, regional and sectoral skills planning, and employer engagement.

The review was led by an independent advisor, James Withers, who took evidence from a wide range of stakeholders to inform his recommendations.

The review started its work in September 2022 and concluded in May 2023. The report was published on 7 June 2023. 

Read the review documents:


The Advisor’s remit outlined that he should engage widely with stakeholders across the post-school skills and education system to inform recommendations. As part of the engagement approach a series of measures were used to gather views:

  • a series of meetings with stakeholders
  • the call for evidence ran for eight weeks from 28 October 2022 until 23 December 2022. Responses were independently analysed and used to support the Advisor’s final recommendations to Ministers
  • webinar sessions during the call for evidence period were designed to gather views from specific audiences with a range of interests across the skills delivery landscape. The notes from the webinar discussions and views provided also informed the Advisor’s recommendations
  • additionally, online sessions were held which were designed specifically to get the views of young people including current and potential learners


Independent advisor: James Withers

James Withers has spent the last 20 years working in some of Scotland's leading business organisations. This includes four years as Chief Executive of NFU Scotland and he stepped down as Chief Executive of Scotland Food and Drink after 11 years in post. James is also a Board Director of the Scottish Tourism Alliance and a member of the Scottish Government's Trade Board. He now works as an independent consultant, supporting a range of businesses and organisations with their growth plans.


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