Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board minutes: January 2017

Minutes of the Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board meeting held on 17 January 2018.

Attendees and apologies

In attendance:

  • Nora Senior, SB Chair
  • Lorne Crerar, Highlands and Islands Enterprise
  • Bob Keiller, Scottish Enterprise
  • Russel Griggs, South of Scotland Economic Partnership
  • Mike Cantlay, Scottish Funding Council
  • Steven Heddle, CoSLA
  • Jeanette Forbes, PCL Group
  • Wendy Alexander, University of Dundee
  • Gerry McCusker, Dog Digital; Chair of BIMA Scotland
  • Karen Betts, Scotch Whisky Association
  • Scott McLarty, Spirit Aerosystems
  • Grahame Smith, STUC
  • Liz Cameron, Scottish Chambers of Commerce
  • Poonam Gupta, PG Paper Company
  • Audrey Cumberford, West College
  • Sara Carter, University of Strathclyde
  • Charlotte Wright, Highlands and Islands Enterprise
  • John Kemp, Scottish Funding Council
  • Damien Yeates, Skills Development Scotland
  • Linda Hanna, Scottish Enterprise
  • Gary Gillespie, Scottish Government
  • Liz Ditchburn, Scottish Government
  • Dominic Munro, Scottish Government
  • Simon Coote, SG Secretariat
  • Gillian Dolan, SG Secretariat


  • John McClelland, Skills Development Scotland
  • Paul Lewis, Scottish Enterprise

Items and actions

The Strategic Board met on 17 January 2018 in Glasgow for a Strategy Day. The format of the day was, broadly:

  • what success looks like, and how to measure it
  • understanding the challenge in the economic and overarching policy context, including current sectoral approaches
  • brainstorming challenges and opportunities
  • distilling some early areas of focus and priorities
  • taking a closer look at some of these to begin to sketch how to approach them
  • understanding the work happening to build culture change and collaboration, and developing ideas to strengthen it

1. Welcome

Nora Senior (NS) Chair of the Strategic Board welcomed the members to the Strategy Day. In setting out the agenda for the day NS advised that this had been structured around some key pillars: DESIRE; DISCERN; DECIDE and DELIVER, and that in looking at these pillars the Board would continue to:

  • reach some understanding of the vision and aims for the Board
  • look at definitions of what success will look like
  • achieve a clearer idea of short, mid and long term goals
  • build on the collaboration already taking place with the Agencies
  • identify areas of priority for the Board
  • develop a timeline for the development of a Strategic Plan

2. What does success look like

A facilitated a session followed with a view to scoping out the vision, aims and objectives of the Board, and how these fit in with the wider Scottish Government economic vision.

The members’ views on the role of the Board and what success looks like were gathered and key initial themes included:

  • alignment and collaboration/unity of the system
  • develop an inspiring economic narrative
  • creating an economy which is diverse, innovative and inclusive
  • improvement on international themes – e.g. exporting and Scotland’s global narrative
  • mind-set – openness – behavioural change – ‘one team’
  • clear indicators and measures for success
  • a consensus around inclusive growth and productivity
  • a framework and experience which works for the customer

2. Measurement

A discussion was then held on areas where the Board could drive analysis and measurement of impact. Areas discussed included:

  • the importance of measuring outcomes and improvement
  • evidence of demand
  • a return on investment analysis
  • real-time data – for sense of pace
  • a recognition that much measurement is already being done but not shared or used to best use particularly for predictive purposes
  • the question of how to measure collaboration
  • the need to recognise that OECD countries are not necessarily the ‘competition’
  • is OECD upper quartile a realistic measurement?
  • the difficulty in measuring wellbeing
  • the Audit Scotland analysis of agencies
  • and the need to measure the satisfaction and demand of customers of the system

3. Role and Vision

The Board then discussed its role and vision, with points around vision including:

  • benchmarking the upper quartile of OECD countries for key outcomes; and how realistic this is for Scotland
  • a Scotland that is recognised as having a culture of ambition to achieve; and a society that works and cares for all its people
  • a meaningful definition for inclusive growth
  • create the right environment and support structure for citizens, private and not for profit sectors to take the initiative in facing challenges and seizing opportunities
  • stronger, growing economy with focus on inclusivity: reinforce and diversify the capabilities of our economy, turning our key strengths into enabling tools for a fully diversified future

Points around the role of the Board could be summarised as:

  • to look at how the Enterprise and Skills system can best contribute to improvements in inclusive economic growth
  • maximising the collective investment in enterprise and skills development
  • drive alignment of planning and processes to make the learner and user journey more transparent and navigable
  • measure a return on investment of the main activities of the enterprise and skills agencies
  • develop a Strategic Plan to drive inclusive growth, informed and shaped by insights, analytical data and regional perspectives
  • identify key timeframes and identify consistent economic impact measurements and other KPIs
  • review impact of interventions and hold agencies to account though Ministers
  • an influencer on broader SG economic strategy
  • a catalyst for further collaboration between public, private and third sector organisations to drive economic growth

4. Challenges and Opportunities

The Board then undertook a brainstorming session to identify challenges and opportunities.

The Board recognised that there is a great deal of work being progressed already across Scottish Government, its agencies and other public and private players in all of these areas (including as a direct result of the previous Enterprise and Skills Review) and that it will be necessary for the Board to engage with this work.

Some areas of particular interest identified were:

  1. Developing our skills base to meet the needs of the economy of the future
  2. Leveraging the UK Industrial Strategy
  3. Raising ambition and confidence
  4. Focusing on high growth industries / high value jobs
  5. Tackling skills under-utilisation / maximising our talent (existing workforce)
  6. Increasing exports
  7. Addressing demographic challenges
  8. Embracing digital opportunities
  9. Stimulating early stage business
  10. Opportunity through diversity including gender
  11. Type of business focus
  12. Innovation and IP
  13. Leading on low carbon
  14. Increasing business investment
  15. Getting people into work
  16. Generational reskilling: in work and new work

5. Discussion around Sectors

The Board discussed various sectoral approaches in the context of a paper provided in advance which summarised the sectoral approaches of the Scottish Government and agencies. Discussion covered areas including:

  • the merits or otherwise of a sectoral approach
  • global picture - high growth industries - getting them to Scotland
  • consideration of the value of a sectoral focus, particularly in light of cross-cutting issues such as gender, cross-cutting technologies, automation, and the limitations of using traditional industrial sectors
  • the need for general employability skills
  • considering employment conditions and skills – inclusivity
  • views on where the focus might best be placed – e.g. small, high wage areas with high growth potential, or large, low productivity areas
  • regional aspects
  • levering benefit from the UK industrial strategy
  • experience elsewhere – Germany, Ireland and Singapore examples
  • the importance of enabling technologies
  • focusing on issues rather than sectors, e.g. digital

6. Developing the areas of interest

The Board then broke out into four groups, which each looked in more detail at two of the key areas of interest identified with a view to sketching out what might be done, measurement and analysis required, where the resource and levers lay, etc.

These eight areas discussed in breakout were:

  1. Developing our skills base to meet the needs of the economy of the future
  2. Leveraging the UK Industrial Strategy
  3. Raising ambition and confidence
  4. Focusing on high growth industries / high value jobs
  5. Tackling skills under-utilisation / maximising our talent (existing workforce)
  6. Increasing exports
  7. Addressing demographic challenges
  8. Embracing digital opportunities

There was a recognition that work around each of these would need to build upon what’s happening currently that further work was required to refine them, and that the work around each would be very different in its outputs and inputs.

7. Culture Change and Collaboration

The Board then discussed the progress already achieved in driving a culture of collaboration. Clear willingness and appetite from the agencies, need to extend across public and private sectors. The Board should be a conduit for collaboration at all levels.

Some practical improvements already being made were discussed, e.g. back office functions being rationalised, work to align strategic planning, and skills alignment.

A half-day session was suggested – looking at opportunities to do more. This might be facilitated externally to provide assurance and assist in the collaboration.

The question of how to measure value of these changes was raised – the impact should be on cost reduction and, primarily, customer satisfaction.

There was further discussion around areas like business gateway, support landscape, digital platform and how these ought to be recognised in this context.

It was agreed there was a need for the Board to look more closely at how to engage with other agencies and partners.

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