Ministerial joint bilateral meeting minutes: 14 June 2022

Minutes of the meeting between Minister for Higher Education and Further Education, Youth Employment and Training, Skills Development Scotland and the Scottish Funding Council, held on 14 June 2022.

Attendees and apologies

  • Jamie Hepburn,  Minister for Higher Education, Further Education, Youth Employment and Training (JH)

Scottish Government

  • Stephen Pathirana (SP), Director of Advanced Learning and Science (ALS)
  • Helen Webster (HW), Deputy Director, ALS 
  • Adam Reid (AR), Deputy Director Fair Work Employability and Skills (FWES)
  • Elspeth Hough - Head of Programmes Unit, ALS
  • Linda McCourt - Policy Team Leader, ALS
  • Rachael Patterson, Ministerial Private Office

Scottish Funding Council

  • Mike Cantley (MC) Chair
  • Karen Watt (KW) Chief Executive
  • Claire McPherson (CM) Deputy Director, Policy and Insights
  • Sharon Drysdale (SD) Deputy Director, Skills and Economic Recovery
  • Sinead Griffin (SG) Business Manager

Skills Development Scotland

  • Frank Mitchell (FM) Chair
  • Damian Yeates (DY) Chief Executive
  • Chris Brodie (CB) Director of Regional Skills Planning and Sector Development
  • Diane Greenlees (DG) Director Critical Skills and Occupations


  • Helena Gray (HG) Director of Fair Work, Employability and Skills

Items and actions

The Minister welcomed participants to the meeting, noting that this meeting had been rescheduled from the intended date in May due to diary pressures. This meeting therefore followed on from two Shared Outcomes Assurance Group meetings, the second of which had taken place on the previous day (13 June 2022). It was noted that it remained the intention that each bilateral meeting would follow on two weeks after each SOAG meeting and that this rescheduled meeting was an exception.

Governance and reporting

The meeting discussed governance and the importance of reporting. It was agreed that there was a need to ensure a key focus on delivery, and for clear, timeous and high-quality reporting against the outcomes and timescales to enable the meaningful scrutiny of activity and any intervention required to drive demonstrate measurable progress on delivery of outcomes.  The meeting noted the previous scrutiny of these matters by both Audit Scotland and the Public Audit Committee

The meeting heard from SFC and SDS regarding improvements in collaborative working between the two agencies.  Joint meetings of the Executive teams of both agencies had taken place and were confirmed by both Chief Executives to have been very productive.  Engagement also remains positive and constructive at Director and working group level.   

The Chief Executives noted the uncertainties and future investment pressures for both agencies arising from the recent publication of the Resource Spending Review.  The Minister suggested that this was an issue on which members of the Shared Outcomes Assurance Group might wish to reflect in the context of considering outcomes, indicators and priorities for work.

Project updates

The meeting heard short updates on the projects on the Shared Outcomes Framework (“the SOF projects”).

  • Education and Skills Impact Framework: A positive workshop had taken place at which a framework for contextual reports agreed and a route map for a future direction of (ESIF) had been agreed. It was anticipated that the results from the first phase of ESIF would be published late summer 2022.
  • CESAP Net Zero: the project is on track and the first reporting outputs will take place during the summer recess. A detailed work programme has been agreed for CESAP Work package 2 and the project will go live on 1 July 2022.
  • Foundation and Graduate Apprenticeships: good progress has been made to close off many of the milestones in these projects with a small number of milestones requiring further intensive work to build on what has been achieved.  It is expected that significant progress will have been made by the end of the next reporting period at the end of July 2022.  The agencies outlined the approach to developing their demand statements from colleges/universities and employers and work underway to improve visibility of the offer.  It was noted that SOAG had held a “deep dive” on FA and GA apprenticeships on the previous day, focusing on systems and reporting. This meeting had provided a useful understanding on how the agencies use an evidence based approach to shape provision and funding.
  • Regional Pathfinders: (South of Scotland and North East) The South of Scotland project is running ahead of the North East project although it is intended that they will be brought back into alignment as proposals in the North East are finalised. There had been good engagement from stakeholders in both areas and effective collaboration with SDS on data and analytical support for work package 1.   The projects will continue to be led by SFC with SDS representation on regional delivery boards.  Work will commence in this academic year; the actual delivery timescales will be agreed based on the requirements of the projects.

The Minister noted that he welcomed the updates, and asked that he receive copies of the papers for SOAG meetings alongside the participants to enable him to continue to engage with real-time progress.


Latest on Executive Summary of SOF

The meeting noted that work on preparation of the Executive Summary of the Shared Outcomes Framework was close to conclusion and it was hoped that this could be shared with the Public Audit Committee before the Summer recess prior to publication.

NSET/SOAG interaction

There was a brief discussion on the connections between the Shared Outcomes Assurance Group (SOAG) and structures being put in place to deliver the National Strategy for Economic Transformation (NSET).   SOAG would continue to oversee the projects in the Shared Outcomes Framework, connecting in to the ambition articulated within the Skilled Workforce chapter of NSET (notably to programmes 11 and 12).  Reporting requirements would be streamlined as far as possible.

The Minister closed the meeting, thanking participants, encouraging all to continue to press forward and commenting that he had been happy to hear the examples of positive collaboration, both directly between the agencies and via SOAG.   He confirmed that the dates for the next bilateral meetings until January 2023 had now been agreed with all partners. 


SOAG secretariat to ensure that papers will issue for SOAG in line with the timescales set out in the Terms of Reference and that these will be copied to the Minister at the same time as being circulated to participants.

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