When the Scottish Government launched the National Transition Training Fund as part of our response to the economic impact of Covid-19, we could not have envisaged the long-lasting impacts on our society and labour market. Despite the quick recovery of employment levels in 2021, businesses continued to require support, particularly to mitigate deepening skills shortages in key sectors but also to support growth sectors or those where individuals needed to upskill or reskill to maintain employment.
A skills system that supports a stronger, more resilient, and more sustainable economy is critical to growth. During the Covid-19 pandemic, this meant responding quickly and flexibly to the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on certain sectors and individuals, whilst also mitigating against the effect of the EU exit and supporting future skills transitions, such as the transition to net zero.
It was in this context that Year 2 of the National Transition Training Fund commenced in April 2021 with an expanded remit to offer short-term but rapid and responsive support to individuals and businesses across Scotland. The aim was to address immediate challenges and lay the groundwork for future skills policy with a skills system able to support people throughout their working lives.
In Year 1 of the Fund, the Scottish Government provided over 9,400 training opportunities across a wide range of sectors. In Year 2 I am delighted that we more than doubled that figure with over 22,000 training opportunities available and over 1,900 businesses supported. Funding was made available across 33 projects to support individuals and businesses in their recovery from the pandemic, to combat the impact of the EU Exit, and prepare for future skills transitions.
Although now complete, our experience of delivering the Fund is informing future skills policy. In March 2022, the Scottish Government published its National Strategy for Economic Transformation. This ten-year plan recognises that a skilled workforce is essential to a wellbeing economy. It sets out our actions to ensure people have the skills they need throughout their working lives and that employers invest to achieve the skilled workforce needed to grow their businesses. The learning from the National Transition Training Fund will be important as this work is taken forward.
Looking ahead, as we embark on a major period of reform of the post-school education and skills landscape, we must build on the strong foundations that we have established. Appropriate support must be in place to encourage and implement a culture of lifelong learning that helps to deliver the necessary skills for individuals and businesses. Government, the wider public sector together with the private and third sectors all have a key role to play in facilitating this step change.
It is only by working together that Scotland can create the skilled workforce necessary to succeed.
Minister for Higher and Further Education; and Minister for Veterans
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