Skills: Shared Outcomes Assurance Group Minutes: 23 May 2023

Minutes from the meeting held on 23 May 2023.

Attendees and apologies

Attendees and apologies

Scottish Government (SG)

  • Adam Reid, Deputy Director, (LLS) (Chair)
  • Richard Dryburgh, Team Lead, Skills Delivery (LLS)
  • Kirstie Corbett, Unit Head, Senior Principal Researcher (ALSA)

Skills Development Scotland (SDS)

  • Chris Brodie, Director of Regional Skills Planning and Sector Development
  • Andrea Glass, Head of Regions and Enabling Sectors
  • Lynne Robson, Head of Evaluation and Impact
  • Jacqueline Kerr, Contracts and Performance Manager

Scottish Funding Council (SFC)

  • Liz Shevlin, Deputy Director, Coherent Learning Provision
  • James Dunphy, Director of Access, Learning and Outcomes
  • Sharon Drysdale, Assistant Director, Skills

Scottish Government Secretariat:

  • Linda McCourt, Programmes Unit (LLS)
  • Tanya Friel, Programmes Unit (LLS)


  • Stephen Pathirana, Director, Lifelong Learning and Skills (LLS)
  • Elspeth Hough, Head of Programmes Unit (LLS) (SG)
  • Stuart King, Senior Principal Research Officer (ES) (SG)
  • Jane Duffy, Head of Apprenticeships and Lifetime Skills (LLS)
  • Neville Prentice, Senior Director, Service Development & Delivery (SDS)
  • Diane Greenlees, Director, Critical Skills and Occupations (SDS)
  • Martin Boyle, Director of Policy, Insight and Analytics (SFC)

Items and actions

Welcome and review of actions

The chair welcomed everyone to the meeting and noted the apologies received.

One action remained outstanding on the SOAG Action Tracker: SG Secretariat to review and confirm dates for future SOAG meeting and bilateral meetings. This was rated as green (on tracker) and will be closed off as this action has now completed.

Progress reporting: updates by exception

The meeting heard updates on the following projects, with reference to the Project Status Reports (PSR) which had been submitted prior to the meeting.

Foundation Apprenticeships: (SOAG/22/01) and Graduate Apprenticeships (SOAG/22/02)   

Both Foundation Apprenticeship (FA) and Graduate Apprenticeship (GA) continue to be rated as amber (potential risk). This was due to timing issues, relating to a dependency on spending review for 2023/24, as well as decisions to be taken regarding long term policy and strategy for FA/GAs.

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

Work on the regional pathfinders was progressing well and workshops on the pilot projects have been planned. Information regarding the pathfinders will be taken to the SFC board meeting in June. The publication schedule has been updated: some publication dates have been reviewed and some changes made, and the report on curriculum planning has been postponed. A new timeline for publication of this report will be confirmed in due course.  Everything else is on track.

Pathfinders: CESAP – Net Zero (SOAG/22/06) and Commercial and Domestic Heat in Buildings (SOAG/22/07)

Progress on CESAP Net Zero (Work package 1) continues to be rated at green. The final report was completed at the end of April and work is underway on a summary report. Both reports will be shared with SOAG members.

A meeting is taking place with SDS and Scottish Enterprise on green skills to discuss the findings of the final report.

CESAP Work package 2 is also progressing well and rated green.  The Gateway Review has been completed; this considered evidence, in terms of volume and quality to progress to stage 2. Stage 2 will focus on gap analysis and the co-design of the pilot projects.

Substantive paper: SOAG learning and reflections

Linda McCourt introduced Item 3 and briefly summarised Paper 3 – SOAG: Learning and Reflections. This followed on from the workshop held with the Projects Senior Responsible Owners (SROs) in April to explore projects and cross-programme connections. The purpose of this SOAG discussion was to reflect on this workshop and to inform preparation for the Ministerial bilateral meeting in June.

There followed a brief discussion on the opportunities and challenges of implementing the Shared Outcome Framework (SOF) projects including confirmation of significant progress individually and collaboratively between the SDS and SFC.

  • It was discussed that due to unforeseen changes in the operating context it had not been possible to deliver the projects exactly as envisaged 18 months ago; where required, discussions had taken place to agree modifications to the objectives
  • Many of the senior and operational staff in SDS and SFC had been drawn in to supporting wider changes in the operating context, including Purpose and Principles, the Skills Delivery Landscape Review and reduced budget availability
  • It was identified that the objectives of the projects had been in some cases too ambitious, for example CESAP WP 1 and the Green Jobs Taxonomy
  • It was important to distinguish between lessons learned specific to individual projects, which relate to the operational context, and the positive lessons from the ways in which members have worked collaboratively together. The joint collaborative working that has taken place has addressed some of the challenges
  • Regional Economic Partnership (REP) act as an important interface between industry and skills providers
  • Although connections between some of the projects were established, it was recognised that there was scope for further cross-connection, especially with those projects that were at an earlier stage
  • The learning arising from pathfinder projects should be of relevance in addressing some of challenges identified in the wider system

Lessons learned from Education and Skills Impact Framework (ESIF) (paper 4)

Kirstie Corbett was invited to introduce item 4. This followed on from an ESIF meeting in February which discussed the usefulness of carrying out a “Lessons Learned” review. This was an opportunity to capture the learning from ESIF and use this to inform next steps. The Collaborative Working Group (CWG) had overseen the undertaking of the review, the purpose of which was to gather feedback on how well the aims of the project had been achieved. This took the form of an email-based survey to colleagues involved at the early stages and/or who had absorbed the impacts of the projects.

Initial feedback was positive while also suggesting areas for improvement. SOAG members at this point were invited to comment. The following points were raised by members:

  • Discussions had taken place between SFC and SG analytical colleagues on the content of the survey and a summary of the lessons learned as the final output from the project will be shared with members  
  • All parties are content with the high level ESIF lessons learned presented at SOAG on 23 May
  • The Collaborative Group will work together to agree a set of principles for partnership working on future collaborative projects

A brief overview of future areas of focus and emerging themes was presented to SOAG members which included social impacts; learner journey and refinement of frameworks, and the positive collaboration between partners, to build on in future.

Looking ahead at next steps it will be important to build on identified benefits, lessons and challenges and to identify shared priorities in the context of reform and purpose and principles work. This will require reflection and further discussion. The intention for the CWG is to develop proposed next steps and discuss with SOAG in the autumn.

Preparation for Ministerial bilateral

 The meeting discussed preparation of the forthcoming Ministerial bilateral meeting. 

Any other business

 No items were notified under AOB. The chair thanked the group members for attending and for a productive meeting.


  • action (230523 – 1): SDS and SFC will share both the summary and full report on CESAP WP1 with SOAG members by the end of June

  • action (230523 – 2): SDS and SFC and SG to work collectively on an updated paper on SOAG lessons and reflections for the next Ministerial Bilateral. Post Meeting note – actioned

  • action (230523 -3): SG (Kirstie Corbett) to engage with SDS and SFC to discuss issues raised and ensure that all views on ESIF lessons learned are captured in a final version of slide pack. Post meeting note - actioned

  • action (230523 –4): CWG to report back to SOAG on any further joint analytical work agreed

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