As noted at the start of this report, in its second and final year, the NTTF continued to evolve. From focusing primarily on supporting individuals and businesses impacted by the pandemic, its remit broadened to include businesses and areas affected by EU exit and to contribute towards upskilling workforces for the transition to net zero.
With almost double the number of projects across an even broader range of sectors, we have seen over twice the number of training opportunities created in Year 2. The project-based approach enabled a range of different training opportunities in size and type to operate, from small projects such as the Nature Scot Net Zero Skills New Entrants Training supporting 20 people to the Tourism and Hospitality Talent Development Programme which saw over 1,500 individuals undertake the programme.
Scotland’s colleges and universities have once again been key delivery partners, with SDS and SE also managing a wide range of projects. Organisations such as the NMIS have again provided high quality opportunities seeking to ensure Scotland has the skilled and diverse workforce needed to help us compete on a global scale in the advanced manufacturing sector.
The programme managed by Scottish Union Learning (SUL) and delivered by Unite the Union saw essential training support offered to the aviation sector at a time when they have faced unprecedented challenges, firstly during the pandemic and then as they addressed skills shortages across Scotland.
Some projects have been less successful than others and we can learn as much from them. There is no doubt that the tight labour market the programme was operating in impacted take up in sectors such as social care, both adult and early years, an issue we have seen reflected in other programmes supporting this sector. Working to a one year budget with short lead in times also affected a number of projects.
Impact on skills landscape
NTTF has enabled colleges and universities to work more closely with local and regional employers to enhance their skills offer for those in and out of work.
Continuing the Skillsboost programme into Year 2, and despite some delivery challenges faced, colleges saw over 4,200 enrolments into short courses linking with local employers to understand and help address skills shortages. There is a clear demand for courses like this and we know some colleges will continue to offer programmes, including the Introduction to Adult Social Care, through their mainstream provision.
Similarly, delivery of NTTF as an addition to the existing Upskilling Fund enabled universities to work more closely with industry to identify workforce training needs and deliver more places, particularly in key sectors such as digital/cyber security and low carbon.
Looking ahead – the National Strategy for Economic Transformation and reform of post-school education, research and skills funding and delivery
Although not continuing into a third year, learning from the two years of NTTF can and will inform the implementation of our NSET Skilled Workforce commitments.
In Year 2 NTTF has reached individuals at all level of learning – from community-based learning through to higher education. As we implement the range of projects within the Skilled Workforce priority of NSET, many of these individuals are in work and some will have accessed training opportunities which would not in the past have been available to them. To achieve a skilled workforce that is able at every stage of working life to access the training needed to meet the changing demand of the labour market, it is critical we understand how to reach those who are not motivated to upskill or reskill.
The work to implement the commitments in NSET will be taken forward within a programme of broader planned reform of post school education, research and skills. This will build on the findings of three key reports:
- The final Coherent Provision and Sustainability: A Review of Tertiary Education and Research report by the Scottish Funding Council sets out the significant strengths of Scotland’s colleges and universities, the challenges they face and makes key recommendations for system change.1
- The report by Professor Louise Hayward following her Independent Review of Qualifications and Assessment (IRQA) recommends reform of the current senior school phase; and.2
- The Review by James Withers of Scotland’s Skills Landscape which recommends major structural reforms to the current way skills are delivered in Scotland.3
The first key strand of work, the Publication of the Purpose and Principles for post-school education, research and skills was published in June 2023.4 This sets out the framework for decision making for post-school education, skills and research to ensure the system is fit for the future, delivering the best outcomes for learners, employers and the public investment we make.
The NTTF projects which ran over the last two years can inform all of this work in some way. There is clearly an ongoing demand for flexible, business specific training across a wide range of sectors and in all parts of Scotland which can help to address the skills shortages being experienced now as well as supporting future skills needs.
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