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 5 – Sector and regional skills planning

SDS has undertaken skills planning activities since 2011; coordinating the development and implementation of Skills Investment Plans (SIPs) for a wide range of industry sectors including Financial Services, Life Sciences, Tourism, Engineering and Construction. It has also led on skills action planning to support Scottish Government ambitions including in relation to Rural Scotland, Early Years Learning and Childcare and Climate Emergency Skills.

SDS also supports the development of Regional Skills Investment Plans (RSIPs). These plans set out actions to better align skills provision with regional economic need and ambitions. To date, RSIPs have been developed in the Highlands and islands, Glasgow City Region, Edinburgh City Region, the North East, Tay Cities, the South of Scotland and Ayrshire. The implementation of the RSIPs is a cross-agency responsibility, coordinated by SDS.

Alongside this work, SDS remains responsible for gathering and sharing labour market intelligence and insights which underpin and inform its sectoral and regional skills planning work. It also provides secretariat support for the implementation group for the Scottish Government’s Climate Emergency Skills Action Plan (CESAP).

More recently, The Enterprise and Skills Review: Report on Phase 2 set out a vision to ‘align the relevant functions of the Scottish Funding Council and Skills Development Scotland to ensure that Scotland’s people and businesses are equipped with the right skills to succeed in the economy’. The Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board was subsequently established and set out a programme of work, involving SDS and the SFC, to deliver improved Skills Alignment.

In the report ‘Planning for Skills’ published in January 2022, the Auditor General reviewed progress against the Skills Alignment agenda. This report, which traces the development of the structures and projects, noted shortcomings in the governance and leadership provided by the Scottish Government and was critical of the collaborative relationships between all partners. It recommended that the Scottish Government take urgent action.

Subsequent to the ‘Planning for Skills’ Report the Scottish Government has established the Shared Outcomes Assurance Group and Shared Outcomes Framework to oversee the work that SDS and SFC are jointly progressing on skills planning. This includes a series of pathfinder projects led by SDS and SFC, which are ‘tests of change’ in determining approaches to skills planning.

The SDS-led pathfinders build on the body’s work under the Climate Emergency Skills Action Plan, published in December 2020, and are looking at the skills needs arising from the transition to net zero and specifically to support commercial and domestic heat decarbonisation.

The SFC-led pathfinders are regional in their focus and build on the proposals in the SFC Review for a revised approach to strategic provision planning and skills alignment which could better explore strategic planning and partnership working at a regional level to assess demand based on a balance of learner and employer needs. These projects are still underway with the first work packages due to conclude before the end of 2022.

Question 15: Thinking about the overall ambition to ensure that the skills and education system is aligned to local, regional and national skills priorities, what aspects of the current delivery landscape are working well to support this ambition?

Question 16: The Auditor General recommended that the Scottish Government take urgent action to deliver improved governance on skills alignment. Do you have any evidence to support whether the current arrangements are likely to deliver progress?

Question 17: The NSET sets out a vision for a system which is agile and responsive to future needs, where labour market insights can inform strategic provision planning. Do you have any evidence to indicate how changes to the delivery landscape could better deliver this vision?

Question 18: Skills Development Scotland currently leads and coordinates approaches for Skills Investment Plans for sectors and Regional Skills Investment Plans. Do you have any evidence to demonstrate the success of this approach or to support the impacts of SIPs on sector skills outcomes or RSIPs on regional outcomes?

Question 19: One of the major challenges and opportunities facing the economy is the just transition to net zero. Thinking about the current delivery landscape, how well is it structured to deliver this ambition?



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