Chapter 6: Recommendations
This chapter sets out recommendations for the future direction of the Skills Action Plan for Rural Scotland (SAPRS). It considers stakeholder views as well as the authors' interpretation of the evaluation findings. A key outcome of the evaluation was the clear consensus that the SAPRS has been valuable in driving progress on skills in rural Scotland. These six adaptations should be considered.
- Content of the Skills Action Plan for Rural Scotland: Both the focus of activities, and the flexibility of the plan, have enabled the SAPRS to support the skills needs of the rural economy. Going forwards the plan will need to increase its focus on: digital skills; skills that help industry navigate the climate crisis; other emerging and future skills demands.
- Targets for the Skills Action Plan for Rural Scotland: The plan has succeeded in supporting skills initiatives across all regions of rural Scotland. However, more progress could be made supporting activities that help certain types of individuals who face particular barriers to employment, such as women and individuals with a disability.
- Structure of the Skills Action Plan for Rural Scotland: The structure of the plan consists of five priority areas. These remain appropriate, however there is a lack of clarity outside of Skills Development Scotland (SDS) staff as to how skills activities relate to particular priority areas. This contributes to a lack of understanding about how skills activities are supporting the wider strategic picture. There would be value in SDS more clearly articulating the priority areas to Implementation Steering Group (ISG) members and how the work of members aligns with the priorities.
- Broader alignment of the Skills Action Plan for Rural Scotland: Linked to the structure of the plan, there was a lack of clarity as to how it aligns to other strategic plans (such as the Climate Emergency Skills Action Plan). Reinforcing this within the SAPRS Skills Development Scotland itself, and in communications, would support stakeholders' understanding of the wider picture, and contribute to more effective delivery of initiatives.
- The make-up of the Implementation Steering Group: The Skills Planning Manager role is fundamental in driving the work of the ISG. Ensuring this remains a funded, full-time position will be essential to the future success of the plan. It is also important that the ISG remains open to new members and to a broader composition of organisations (including third sector organisations), to ensure they represent the needs of the rural economy.
- Implementation Steering Group communication: Broadly stakeholders appeared content with the frequency and format of ISG meetings. To enhance their effectiveness and encourage greater agency of the SAPRS, the group might benefit from more thematic sub-group meetings. Sub-groups might also benefit from developing their own action plans aligned with specific priorities within the main plan.
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