Skills delivery landscape: call for evidence

This call for evidence paper seeks stakeholder views on Scotland’s skills system. The information gathered will help to inform recommendations to Ministers by James Withers, the Advisor to the Independent Review of the Skills Delivery Landscape.

Part 1 – Skills Delivery Landscape

The Scottish Government’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation, published in March 2022, recognises the importance of skills to the economic wellbeing of Scotland’s places, people and communities. Its vision is for a skills and education system that can provide individuals with the skills they need to have rewarding careers, and businesses with a skilled workforce which will enable the economy to flourish.

In June 2021, the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) published its Review of Coherence and Sustainability which set out its proposals for the future of tertiary education and the wider post-school system in Scotland. The Scottish Government’s response in October 2021, broadly accepted and agreed with the recommendations and committed, as priority, to take forward work to set out more clearly its longer-term strategic intent for tertiary education and research in Scotland.

Subsequent work to develop a Purpose and Principles for post-school education, skills development and research, as part of wider education reform, is positioned as delivering a set of evidence-led outcomes that will help to inform future strategic decision-making across the education and skills system.

If the NSET and Purpose and Principles can together be seen to articulate the Scottish Government’s ambitions for an integrated post-school education and skills system, the intention of this Review is to consider how the delivery landscape might be adapted to deliver those ambitions and related outcomes. As the Purpose and Principles is yet to be published, this call for evidence focuses on the ambitions and commitments articulated in the NSET.

The current skills delivery landscape includes national public bodies that support the education and skills ecosystem.

Skills Development Scotland was created in 2008 from Careers Scotland, Scottish University for Industry (learndirect scotland) and the skills and learning functions of Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise. SDS employs around c.1,520 FTE staff and has a network of around 60 public access centres across Scotland and a presence at other public sites including secondary schools and colleges. In 2021/22 SDS had a budget of £230m.

The Scottish Funding Council (previously the Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council) was created in 2005 under the Further and Higher Education (Scotland) 2005. Its duties are to secure coherent, high quality further and higher education and research by Scotland’s 26 colleges and 19 universities. SFC employs 109 FTE staff and in 2021/22 SFC had a budget of £1.9bn.

Following a Review led by Professor Ken Muir, the Scottish Government, as part of its Education Reform programme, intends to replace the Scottish Qualifications Authority with a new public body responsible for qualifications. It will also see the creation of two new education bodies to replace Education Scotland; a new national agency and an independent inspectorate.

Since SDS was created in 2008, there has been further strengthening of enterprise services with South of Scotland Enterprise, created in 2020, joining Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise in working to support businesses across Scotland, including in relation to workforce planning and development.

This national public body landscape is supported by delivery bodies at local and regional level, as well as various advisory, governance and implementation groups.

Question 1: If there was one thing you would like to see change in how our skills landscape is structured and delivering, what would it be?

Question 2: Thinking about the vision in the Terms of Reference for a system that is simple, people-focused and built on collaboration, how well are we doing against that vision just now? Can you provide specific examples of:

a) success in the work of public agencies or the private/third sector; or

b) elements that don’t work, are confusing or need to be improved?

Question 3: Thinking about the descriptions above of the different national agencies and partners involved in skills delivery, are there areas where more clarity is required about roles and responsibilities or where you think the balance of responsibilities should be changed?

Question 4: Thinking about how our economy and society is changing and the Scottish Government’s ambitions for a skilled workforce as set out in NSET, do you have any evidence on where the current skills and education landscape needs to adapt or change and how it could be improved? Please provide evidence to support your answer.

Question 5: Can you provide any evidence of skills structures in other places that are delivering outcomes in line with Scotland’s ambitions which Scottish Government should look to in achieving its ambitions?



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