Skills: Shared Outcomes Assurance Group minutes: 11 October 2022

Minutes from the meeting held on 11 October 2022.

Attendees and apologies

Scottish Government (SG)

  • Stephen Pathirana, Director, Advanced Learning and Science (ALS) (Chair)
  • Helena Gray, Director, Fair Work, Employability and Skills (FWES)
  • Adam Reid, Deputy Director (FWES)
  • Helen Webster, Deputy Director (ALS)
  • Richard Dryburgh, Team Lead, Fair Work and Employability (FWES)
  • Jane Duffy, Unit Head, Skills Division (FWES)
  • Kirstie Corbett, Unit Head, Senior Principal Researcher, (ALSA)
  • Elspeth Hough, Head of Programmes Unit (ALS)

Skills Development Scotland (SDS)

  • Chris Brodie, Director of Regional Skills Planning and Sector Development
  • Andrea Glass, Head of Regions and Enabling Sectors
  • Diane Greenlees, Director, Critical Skills and Occupations
  • Lynne Robson, Head of Evaluation and Impact
  • Neville Prentice, Senior Director, Service Development and Delivery

Scottish Funding Council (SFC)

  • Claire McPherson, Deputy Director for Policy
  • Sharon Drysdale, Assistant Director, Skills
  • Martin Boyle, Director of Policy, Insight and Analytics

Scottish Government Secretariat 

  • Linda McCourt, Programmes Unit (ALS)
  • Mary Maxwell, Programmes Unit (ALS)
  • Alex Brown, Programmes Unit (ALS)
  • Tanya Friel, Programmes Unit (ALS)


  • Stuart King, Senior Principal Research Officer (FWES, SG)
  • James Dunphy, Director of Access, Learning and Outcomes (SFC)
  • Linda Christie, Head of Green Skills (SDS)

Items and actions


  • 10:00 to 10:05 Welcome and review of ations by exception (paper 1) - Chair
  • 10:05 to 10:35 Progress updates by exception (paper 2) – senior reporting officer's (SROs)
  • 10:35 to 11.05 Deep Dive: Climate Emergency Skills Action Plan Pathfinders (CESAP) (paper 3) – SDS SROs
  • 11:05 to 11:15 Update on Shared Outcomes Framework (SOF) Finalisation – SDS/SFC SROs (paper 4)
  • 11:15 to 11.25 Preparation for the Ministerial Bilateral
  • 11:25 to 11:30 AOB – Chair


Welcome and review of actions

The Chair welcomed the attendees.

The Chair thanked the SROs for the timely return of papers ahead of the meeting.

The Chair indicated that the minutes from the last SOAG in August and the last Ministerial Bilateral, in September, had now been published on the Scottish Government website.

There were no comments on the SOAG Action Tracker. All actions from the August SOAG had been completed.

Progress reporting: updates by exception

The meeting heard updates on the following projects, with reference to the Project Status Reports which had been submitted prior to the meeting, with the exception of project 8, which has not yet commenced.

Foundation apprenticeships (SOAG/22/01) and graduate apprenticeships (SOAG/22/02)

There are three interlinked milestones related to systems reporting, which are at red RAG status. A meeting has been arranged with SDS/SFC to discuss and resolve this reporting issue. If agreement is reached at the meeting then two of the milestones will have been achieved and one will remain red until final implementation.

There is one milestone relating to guidance which is currently red. Resolution of this is dependent on the reporting issue being resolved. Work is ongoing.

Education and Skills Impact Framework (ESIF) – (SOAG/22/03)

ESIF leads noted that good progress has continued with the production of 3 contextual reports (college, universities and MA pathways) which are to accompany the technical report. The SROs are discussing with Scottish Government officials timescales for publication of these reports, noting the links to the publication of the National Strategy for Economic Transformation (NSET) Delivery plans, scheduled for the end of October.

Project updates, reported by exception

Regional pathfinders: North East (SOAG/22/04) and South of Scotland (SOAG/22/05)

  • work is underway to pull together all the streams of work package 1 that have been undertaken by SFC, SDS and the external contractor; this is on track to conclude by the end of October as scheduled
  • the first joint meeting of the Regional Delivery Boards took place in the week beginning 4 October; the National Advisory Board had also met for the first time. These fora provided good platforms for sharing and learning dissemination as intended in WP4, and more widely between the Regional Pathfinders and the CESAP work

Pathfinders: CESAP – net zero (SOAG/22/06) and commercial and domestic heat in buildings (SOAG/22/07)

  • in advance of the Deep Dive, Chris Brodie noted that while Work Package 1 was progressing well, there had been an unavoidable delay to the procurement timescales as a consequence of budget uncertainties. WP 1 was now likely to conclude by end November, rather than end October as previously envisaged
  • work on WP 2 continued with further engagement planned with the SFC on provision mapping

Lifelong skilling and reskilling (SOAG/22/08)

  • the meeting heard an update on discussions across partners and with the Minister for Further Education, Higher Education Youth Employment and Training about arrangements for future collaborative activity around upskilling and reskilling, noting in particular the read across to the NSET Skilled Workforce programme which positioned lifelong learning as one of the significant areas of focus
  • the Chair thanked partners for their constructive engagement

CESAP deep dive

Chris Brodie presented to the meeting on the progress of the CESAP pathfinder. This comprised two work packages (SOAG projects (SOAG/22/06) and (SOAG/22/07). Work package 1 focused on building the evidence base in the investment in the transition to net zero and work package 2 was a test of change in the decarbonisation of domestic and commercial heating. Chris outlined the timescales for the work packages, highlighting the intention for a Gateway Review to take place early in 2023; this would both assess the quality of information and provide clarity on the direction and focus on the final elements of the work.

Work Package 1 : the work to establish a Green Jobs definition has now been completed. Key findings will be published in an Executive Summary (timing tbc) and consideration of publication of other outputs is under discussion.

It was noted by SDS that the refresh of the CESAP, led by the Scottish Government, was now underway and this should bring clarity on the plans for the Green Jobs Skills Hub.

Work Package 2: good progress has been made on understanding demand. Work has started on the pilots in City of Glasgow and Shetland Islands

In discussion, the following points were made:

There was a need to ensure that potential workforce were aware of and wanting to take up green job opportunities; the role of employers was important and could be explored as part of WP2;

Apprenticeships and school entry college and university courses represented only part of the answer – upskilling and reskilling of existing workforces was also going to play an important role in meeting demand;

The current mapping work was not just about counting jobs, it was about understanding the profile of current investment;

Institutions, notably colleges, were already moving ahead looking at green issues. Many are looking for businesses to partner with to stimulate investment in the sector and meet the costs of new equipment;

There was a need for all to be looking ahead to future needs and to be live to ongoing changes in the market; this was a 10 to 15 year programme. By gathering and reviewing the intelligence, it would be possible to reduce, but not eradicate, uncertainty and to identify opportunities to position the skills system to better meet the needs of the green jobs economy;

It was the role of government to use policy levers to drive change that would stimulate or require investment;

There were useful synergies with the approach taken to the Regional Pathfinders and in due course, it would be helpful for SOAG to hear an update on and discuss the connections and the learning. A further presentation on the specific learning arising from WP1 of the CESAP pathfinder would also be useful.

The Chair thanked Chris Brodie and noted that SOAG looked forward to hearing further progress in due course.

Update on SOF finalisation

Partners from the SFC and SDS updated SOAG on the workstream to agree metrics to replace the holding measures that had been included in the published version of SOF. Good progress had been made in reviewing the individual project level measures which are to be aligned to the cumulative outcomes in the SOF. A meeting had taken place with Scottish Government partners to discuss the fit with the ongoing work to develop the Purpose and Principles for the post 16 education, skills and research ecosystem. A workshop with external analysts would be held later in the month to explore alignment of the detailed measures with long-term overall measures.

There would be an opportunity for SOAG to consider proposals in depth at its next meeting.

Preparation for ministerial meeting

The meeting discussed preparation for the Ministerial bilateral meeting.

Any other business

The Interim Director for Fair Work, Employability and Skills, Helena Gray, confirmed that she would be leaving government at end of the year to take up a post at the Accounts Commission.

The Chair thanked the Group for a productive meeting and reminded the meeting of the procedures to be taken under GDPR were any participants to object to the inclusion of their information in the SOAG papers and minutes which w to be published on SG website.


  • action (111022–1): the foundation/ graduate apprenticeship systems reporting issues to be resolved between SDS and SFC prior to the next SOAG meeting and ideally at the forthcoming meeting; milestone reporting to be updated in advance of the November SOAG meeting
  • action (111022 –2): update on future arrangements for this work to be confirmed at the next SOAG meeting on 29 November
  • action (111022-3): secretariat to agree with partners timing for future discussions on CESAP learning and CESAP/ Tertiary Pathfinder connections
  • action (111022-4): SOAG Secretariat will confirm timescale for the submission of papers for Ministerial Bilateral
  • action (111022-5): SFC and SDS will notify proposed agenda items to the Secretariat for consideration
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