Commission for the Land-based Learning Review minutes: April 2022

Minutes of the meeting of the group held on 28 April 2022.

Attendees and apologies

Commission members

  • Liz Barron-Majerik
  • Ishabel Bremner
  • George Jamieson
  • Heather Jones
  • Lesley Laird
  • Andy Leitch
  • Jamie Newbold
  • Amy Jo Reid
  • Gail Robertson
  • David Thomson
  • James Wylie

Scottish Government officials

  • Muriel Mackenzie
  • Amanda Millar
  • Philip Raines
  • Connie Smith
  • Heather Wilson


Commission members

  • Chris Brodie
  • Bernard Chisholm
  • Rachel Cowper
  • Steven Grier
  • Claudia Rowse

Scottish Government officials

  • Amanda Fox

Items and actions

The Chair welcomed members to the meeting and informed members that Bernard Chisholm has stepped down as co-chair.

The note of the previous meeting was agreed.

Outstanding actions from the action log:

  • secretariat will develop schematics of learning systems and pathways and share with the commission
  • Andy Leitch will discuss provision of further forestry data with the secretariat
  • members will provide Liz Barron-Majerik with any comments on the latest data provided by SDS from the 16+ Data Hub. She will collate and share with the secretariat

Commission work streams - outputs (paper one)

There was discussion and agreement that there should be a clear statement making the case for the importance of the commission’s work. This would be for the Knowledge Circles but also Scottish Government and other stakeholders. Since the last meeting, Commission members met in work stream groups to agree the questions they wish to explore through stakeholder engagement to identify the principal issues for each theme. This will allow the commission to develop recommendations to ministers in their final report.

The work streams are:

  • awareness and perception
  • delivery
  • exposure
  • place
  • structure

Following extensive discussion, the questions for consultation dialogues were agreed. 

Questions for knowledge circle dialogues

Careers advice for land-based sector:

  • how do we highlight the broad range of opportunities in the sector, and importance of transferrable skills?
  • how do we empower young people on career choice?
  • what is the current perception of land-based sector jobs at a school age level?
  • what is the land-based presence within senior primary careers work?

Curriculum for excellence (CfE):

  • how can the land-based sector make it easier for curriculum for excellence to engage?
  • regarding the learning journey from early years onwards:
    • Is our education system developing the good quality transferrable skills required?
    • Is there enough land-based learning at S1 to S3 level?
    • Where in the learning journey do young people have the chance to develop/test their skills in a land-based context?
  • should consideration be given to a generalist first-year and to specialise later? Is there evidence of this working well/being a challenge anywhere at the moment?
  • how trained are the staff to adapt to the new outdoor learning regulation regarding time outdoors?
  • what training on outdoor learning is included in teacher training?
  • are college courses factoring the regulations on outdoor time in to their training?
  • how do we encourage exposure and awareness of jobs? For example, with senior school students: through employability awards, pathways to rural work, rural/industry partnerships? How is this being measured and interpreted?
  • how are secondary school pupils able to access visits to/from land-based and aquaculture businesses? Is there a 'space' for this in the curriculum?

Employers/fair work:

  • some of the perceptions of the sector are that it is poorly paid or inflexible. What are the barriers around Fair Work and around employers’ covenants and pledges such as armed forces covenant (specifically for micros and small and micro enterprises)?
  • can changes to contracts/commissioning be made that would help with fair work requirements?
  • what are the challenges around the size of companies and building capacity - what is the difference between a small land based company and a similar small medium enterprise in joinery for example? What is the impact of short-term tenders?
  • what are the barriers for local/national recruitment?
  • who are the trusted partners when filling a vacancy? (for example the rings, Scottish Forestry, Forestry and Land Scotland, colleges etc)
  • how do we best reduce the risk/perceived risk to the employer?
  • is there a kind of shared approach that might help? E.g. payroll, pension, etc. If there was a shared service - how could that knowledge/experience be pooled so that it might enable sector support?
  • is there an option for green loans for equipment or are there incubator workshops? Is there a need for land based incubators?
  • do we need a census for land based sector businesses?
  • how are vacancies currently measured - is this sensitive enough for the critical but small sectors? Could this be changed to increase range of categories? What would better options be?
  • what are the barriers to recruiting apprentices? How do we help micro-businesses in constant demand? For example needing time to train? 
  • is there a disproportionate reliance on short course training? Does the employee have to pay for this to get employed?
  • what support is available for those thinking about working in land-based sectors? How do they know how to access the support? Is there any mandatory requirement for training?

Language and terminology:

  • does the language used on careers websites adequately reflect the specific categories and definitions of sectors and jobs?
  • do course titles effectively engage the applicant whilst communicating the aim and content of the course? How is this determined?

Infrastructure issues:

  • if there is a focus on the local opportunities – how do you make sure the national but niche opportunities are included? 
  • how accessible is an education in land-based sectors?
    • accommodation/travel – there are fewer providers following mergers, what is the level of this barrier?
    • what are the hygiene factors – accommodation, travel, costs of retraining if re-careering?
    • are there equipment and accessibility issues?

Learner journeys:

  • how do we address the needs of all-age learners and career changers?
  • what is the individual’s ability to get into pathways at all stages?
  • learning journeys and pipeline of employment will change – are we clear about transferable skills required?
  • what can the new qualifications/quality assurance body have at its core to ensure flexibility for the land-based sector?
  • can the sector respond quickly enough to change? Do the qualifying/funding bodies support/allow this?
  • what is the trigger for change or development of a new course and what are the associated costs? For example, legislation, demand
  • are we forward looking enough for skills needed for the future? Are we taking a disruptive enough view?
  • are the requirements of national funding schemes a barrier to the level of flexibility that the sector needs? What support is available for practical training?
  • how are new entrants being trained? How do we go beyond sector specific skills such as working with others, IT literacy?
  • what are the barriers to new entrants?
  • with regards to upper level skills – are we training our future leaders? Are we building capacity rurally? Are there issues of resilience?
  • is seasonality an issue? Would starting in January make for a better learning experience?

Perception of the sector:

  • can we change the negative image and integrate subjects to attract more young people? (For example: climate change, renewable energy, biodiversity, food security, food production, environment, health, cooking, research and technology)?

Taking a collaborative approach:

  • how can we get a more effective collaboration with everyone? Do we also need to co-ordinate industry input to skills (advisory boards, skills groups etc)?
  • how do we build more partnerships between colleges, universities, public and private sectors? Can we make sure courses adapt quickly to ensure that state funded education moves with the industry?

Proposed knowledge circles (paper two)

There was discussion on the organisations to be involved. Knowledge Circles will be made up of individuals with expertise from sectors with an interest in the review:

  • industry leadership groups and equivalent for the land-based and aquaculture sectors
  • educational bodies and curriculum for excellence
  • education policy and funding
  • learning and training providers
  • cross-cutting policy representatives – equalities, fair work, just transition

The views of a number of key organisations and groups, including those involving young people, will also be involved in consultation events, including:

  • Rural Youth Parliament
  • Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs
  • Scottish Youth Parliament
  • Young Scot

Members agreed to have mixed groups for Knowledge circle discussion groups around themes. The secretariat will share a programme of engagement. The Commission is keen to explore options for face-to-face meetings spread across Scotland, where possible. It was agreed that the meetings should also provide an opportunity for learning more about an aspect of land based /aquaculture training through a visit, tour etc. Using a professional facilitator will be considered, as was using a “hackathon” approach.

Secretariat update

The Secretariat will set up a ‘newsletter’ email to share updates and links to reports and case studies with Commission members


  • Lantra and Skills Development Scotland to be asked for data in relation to searches for land-based careers

  • colleges, Lantra, City and Guilds, training providers, and SkillSeeder to be asked for data in relation to land based courses and training

  • ask DYW and Lantra to provide information on available careers materials

  • provide details of DEFRA green loans scheme that is due to be launched to the commission

  • secretariat to obtain data from Business Gateway groups on equipment loans/grants

  • members to share examples of successful promotion of land-based subjects within their own areas

  • a clearer “sales pitch” for the knowledge circle to be produced establishing the importance of the work

  • organisations to be contacted regarding knowledge circle participation - secretariat to progress and share a programme of events with the commission

  • secretariat will collate information and set up ‘newsletter’ email for distribution

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