Publication - Minutes

Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board minutes: December 2019

Published: 9 Mar 2020
Date of meeting: 18 Dec 2019
Location: SE Offices, Apex, 97 Haymarket Terrace, Edinburgh EH12 5HD

Minutes of Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board meeting held on 18 December 2019.

Published:
9 Mar 2020
Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board minutes: December 2019

Attendees and apologies

Members: 

  • Nora Senior (Chair)
  • Lord Smith of Kelvin
  • Mike Cantlay
  • Steven Heddle (Dialled in) 
  • Jeanette Forbes
  • Audrey Cumberford
  • Sara Carter
  • Gerry McCusker
  • Scott McLarty (Vice Chair)
  • Russel Griggs
  • Grahame Smith
  • Frank Mitchell

Other attendees: 

  • Karen Watt (SFC)
  • Charlie Smith (SE) 
  • Carroll Buxton (HIE) 
  • Damien Yeates (SDS)
  • Dominic Munro (SG) 
  • Richard Murray (SG)
  • Simon Coote (Secretariat) 
  • Richard Rollison (SG)
  • Gary Gillespie (SG) 
  • Karen Jackson (SG) 
  • Maggie Wightman (Joint SFC and SDS Skills Director) 
  • Mark Graham (Edinburgh University) 
  • Craig McCulloch (AU)

Apologies: 

  • Liz Cameron
  • Poonam Gupta
  • Wendy Alexander
  • Lorne Crerar
  • Steve Dunlop

Items and actions

Introduction from the chair 

The Chair introduced and welcomed Maggie Wightman, Karen Jackson and Mark Graham and Craig McCulloch from the Analytical Unit who will be presenting later. 

The Chair said that we will cover 3 main items in the meeting: 

  • agency business planning and lessons learned
  • innovation 
  • strategy day 

The Chair thanked those retiring from the Board: Wendy Alexander, Jeanette Forbes and Karen Betts (who has already stood down). Gerry McCusker will be staying on for another six months. 

We will also be welcoming four new members to the Board Melinda Matthews Clarkson CEO of CodeClan, Simon Cotton CEO of Johnsons of Elgin, Alison Milne Business Owner and Dr Gillian Murray Deputy Principal Herriot Watt University. We are still looking for new members so would welcome any additional suggestions.

The Chair also updated on recent engagements with Ministers, including Minister for Trade Investment and Innovation Ivan McKee MSP, and the Economy, Energy and Fair Work Convener Gordon Lindhurst. The Chair intends to increase engagement activity in 2020. 

The Chair also updated on the review of Industry Leadership Groups (ILGs) which is looking at how to re-energise ILGs and promote best practice. Ruth Meyer, from the Scottish Government’s Strategic Business Engagement team, is working on a report and will update the Board in January. 

Members were thanked for their contributions to the Fair Work narrative which was well received. It was recognised that some of the feedback from the Board has not been incorporated into the paper. 

Action:

  • Fair Work team to incorporate outstanding feedback from the Board before finalising the Fair Work narrative

The Chair thanked Simon Coote for his role as Secretariat, Simon is leaving for a new position. 

Richard Murray updated the Board on the move to bring the Analytical Unit and Secretariat together in one team. This will provide greater resilience and ensure more joined-up working between the Analytical Unit and Secretariat. The Chair highlighted some of the feedback received from the annual appraisal of Board members on how to improve the support provided by the Secretariat to Board members, including greater engagement with the Board between meetings. 

Action:

  • Secretariat to work with Board members to ensure greater engagement between meetings
  • Gary Gillespie to report back to the Board with plans for permanently appointing the Head of the Analytical Unit and Secretariat

Minute of last meeting

Approved subject to minor amendments clarifying the contribution the rural economy makes to the Scottish economy. 

Skills Alignment 

Maggie Wightman Director of Skills Alignment presented the emerging plans for skills alignment. 

Maggie outlined the 5 step model which they plan to implement for 2021/22. 

Work across SFC and SDS is underway to get a clear evidence base and demand assessment.  This work will:

  • establish the changes we need to make across the system
  • use performance measures when looking at the model
  • be subject to review and evaluation as it progresses

A key priority over the next few months is to get the evaluation framework in place.

There is a specific project with Scottish Government to look at what we do with the removal of EU funding as we need to look at new ways of funding apprenticeships.

During the discussion it was recognised that the work on skills alignment fits in to a broader programme of work which includes the review by the Scottish Funding Council Board on funding models and outcome agreements, and the review underway of the economic impact of Scotland’s colleges.

The Board were reminded of the key messages previously expressed by the Deputy First Minister on having a flexible skills system and the importance of place to ensure institutes support sectors which are important to local economies.  

The Board was keen that collectively as a system there should be a mechanism for shifting resource to meet pressing priorities and demands. Skills alignment is very much a live issue with industry pressing for more graduate apprenticeships.  

There was recognition that it is crucial to signal to the system that changes are coming to enable colleges and universities to prepare. 

Agency business planning 

A paper was provided detailing the current process and progress in aligning agency business plans. This gave the Board comfort and reassurance on the work. 

The Board also sought assurances that sponsor teams in the Scottish Government are joined up to support alignment of business planning and that the teams engage with the agencies collectively as well as bilaterally. 

The Board discussed how to feed in views on emerging plans and agreed this might need to be done via correspondence in March/April. 

Action:

  • the Agencies to provide their plans to the Strategic Board alongside a joint Agency report outlining the ways in which they are aligned
  • members of the Board are to provide feedback within 1 week of seeing the plans and send this to Nora and Scott for their consideration

Innovation work 

Mark Graham and Craig McCulloch presented the Innovation work the Analytical Unit have been taking forward. The project examines the agency and Scottish Government innovation activities and how the impacts of these activities are monitored and evaluated. Overall, there is little evidence on the impact of interventions on innovation and this makes it difficult to guide future decisions. 

Discussion following the presentation highlighted:

  • SFC are keen for the HE and FE sectors to be included within this work and it should be recognised that  Scotland has led the way in the UK on research pools and collaboration between institutions. A significant proportion of funding goes towards supporting infrastructure which in turn helps leverage additional research funding into the Scottish economy
  • there are a wide range of benefits from SFC’s support for innovation and this, along with the broader complexity of the system, needs to be acknowledged in the evaluation framework
  • keen to ensure this work is joined-up with the work Mr McKee has commissioned to evaluate innovation activity
  • need to work out what we are going to do over the next 10 years on innovation. Work with Universities to foster innovation
  • recognition that there is little known about the impact of interventions on innovation and the complexity of the innovation system makes this more challenging
  • the 2017 Programme for Government included the commitment to double business R&D between 2017 and 2025
  • there is a network of assets across the UK (beyond universities) and we need to explore how we can leverage these to help close the gap on R&D. The emphasis should be placed not only on agencies but also businesses
  • increasing spend on innovation should not be the outcome but instead maximising the economic impact from the spend
  • following the UK Government’s commitment to increase R&D, there is likely to be more funding for innovation which Scottish institutes could access in 2020

Action:

  • Analytical Unit to refine the next stages of the work in light of feedback from the Board and ensuring join-up with the work underway for Mr McKee

Strategy day 

The strategy day will feature two scene setting items: the current landscape (informed by a paper from Dominic Munro) and the Annual Analysis presentation from the Analytical Unit. 

Action:

  • feedback welcomed on proposed agenda from the topics for the Strategy day. Following feedback updated agenda will be circulated

AOB

Mr Ewing has asked the Board if they would be content to have a role overseeing the Rural Skills Action Plan. Board agreed with this role

Action:

  • confirmation will be sent to Mr Ewing following the meeting that the Board will oversee the Rural Skills Action Plan.  Appropriate officials will need to work with the Board’s secretariat to agree how this will operate

List of actions: 

  • Secretariat to work with Board members to ensure greater engagement between meetings
  • Gary Gillespie to report back to the Board with plans for permanently appointing the Head of the Analytical Unit
  • the Agencies to provide their plans to the Strategic Board alongside a jointly produced report outlining the ways in which they are aligned
  • members of the Board are to provide feedback within 1 week of seeing the plans and send this to Nora and Scott for their consideration
  • Analytical Unit to refine the next stages of the work in light of feedback from the Board and ensuring join-up with the work underway for Mr McKee
  • feedback welcomed from the Board on the proposed agenda for the Strategy day. Following feedback the updated agenda will be circulated
  • confirmation will be sent to Mr Ewing following the meeting that the Board will oversee the Rural Skills Action Plan.  Appropriate officials will need to work with the Board’s secretariat to agree how this will operate