Coronavirus (COVID-19): measures to mitigate the labour market impacts - report

This report from a sub-group of the Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board contains recommendations for actions and interventions to help mitigate the expected rise in unemployment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

5. Next Steps

This is a national emergency and now is the time for even greater collaboration right across the enterprise and skills system to ensure we put in place measures to help Scottish businesses and individuals in the coming months. We need to ensure that support is joined up, that the measures in place to help business works in tandem with the training and learning opportunities provided so Scotland can seize the economic opportunities as the recovery gathers pace.

The sub-group has closely engaged with the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery and the recommendations tie in with the broader actions they identified. Therefore, Ministers may wish to consider this report alongside the Advisory Group's which has sought a response to its recommendations by the end of July. By setting out clear priority sectors to support, Ministers can help accelerate the recovery and enable skills providers to align with future demand.

We need to move at pace and several of the recommendations should be implemented quickly to ensure the necessary support is scaled up to respond to the rise in unemployment we are already witnessing.

In addition the sub-group recognise that SFC have been asked to consider how best to achieve coherence and sustainability in the delivery of further and higher education during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond, with initial recommendations presented to Ministers by the end of August. Given the immediacy of the crisis we would ask that ministers indicate in July, in their response to the report of this sub-group, which of the recommendations pertaining to colleges and universities can be taken forward now.

The sub-group worked on the basis that actions would be funded from the resources currently allocated by the Scottish Government to the agencies and for related purposes. Thus, the focus must be on aligning and maximising the impact of expenditure. However, given the size of the challenges facing the Scottish labour market, the scaling up of activity will inevitably require additional resource. Ministers need to clearly signal priority areas that will drive the recovery and enable education establishments to have greater flexibility to tailor training provision, co-designed with business, to provide clear pathways for people into employment. Ministers will wish to consider this when setting out an action plan for implementing the recommendations.

The Strategic Board has a key role in overseeing this implementation to ensure not only greater alignment and co-ordination right across the enterprise and skills system but also greater connection with local authorities and private sector partners and measuring impact. As part of this, the Strategic Board will expand its membership to include local government representation.

The crisis calls for a 'Team Scotland' approach and the Strategic Board is uniquely placed to drive this forward to support the recovery. Businesses need to step up to lead the recovery and avoid short-term decisions which will exacerbate the rise in unemployment. Furthermore, they need to work with skills providers in co-designing training to provide a clear pathway for people into employment.

Agencies have already demonstrated their agility and ability to come together to provide vital urgent assistance to businesses and learners following the outbreak of COVID-19. This has evolved into supporting businesses restart as different parts of the economy begin to reopen. Going forward the attention will rightly shift towards tailoring this support to help businesses rebuild and seize new opportunities as the recovery gathers pace.

The sub-group recognised that some vulnerable groups require specific support and this will be considered over the summer alongside further actions the enterprise and skills system needs to take to support the recovery. The sub-group will report back to Ministers by the end of August.



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