Skills: Shared Outcomes Assurance Group minutes: 28 February 2023

Minutes from the meeting held on 28 February 2023.

Attendees and apologies

Scottish Government

  • Stephen Pathirana, Director, Lifelong Learning and Skills (LLS) (Chair)
  • Adam Reid, Deputy Director (LLS)
  • Richard Dryburgh, Team Lead, Skills Delivery (LLS)
  • Jane Duffy, Head of Apprenticeships and Lifetime Skills (LLS)
  • Kirstie Corbett, Unit Head, Senior Principal Researcher, (ALSA)
  • Elspeth Hough, Head of Programmes Unit (LLS)

Skills Development Scotland

  • 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

Scottish Funding Council

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

Scottish Government Secretariat

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


  • Stuart King, Senior Principal Research Officer (ES), SG
  • Helen Webster, Deputy Director (LLS), SG
  • Jennifer Bradley, Deputy Director, Head of Education and Analytical Services, SG
  • Neville Prentice, Senior Director, Service Development and Delivery, SFC

Items and actions

Welcome and review of actions

The Chair welcomes attendees and noted the apologies received.

There were two actions outstanding on the SOAG Action Tracker: the development of a forward plan for SOAG and on-going liaison with analytical research and SOAG SG colleagues on CESAP WP2. Both of these actions were rated green (on track) and were due to be completed before the next SOAG meeting.

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)   

Good progress had been made again on both projects. Workstream 1 of both projects would continue to be rated as amber (Potential risk) until the conclusion of discussions underway on policy and volumes for the academic year 23/24.  Further work to reconcile data for the Foundation Apprenticeship (FA) report was underway; a revised publication date by the end of March has been agreed.  

Further work was scheduled to take place shortly on the data sharing agreement, to consider future data and reporting requirements.

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

The Collaborative Working Group had met on 10 February to agree the closure of ESIF, to examine lessons learned and to discuss next steps (see item 5). The PSR reflected that ESIF was now complete and that there would be no further requirement for a PSR on this project.

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

Work on the regional pathfinders was progressing well. Changes to the dates noted in the PSRs reflect a more detailed plan of project timescales rather than a delay. This more detailed plan would also contribute to and align with the future planning for SOAG. The 7 pilot projects were now underway; a project manager has been recruited for in one of the pilots.

A meeting of the Regional Development Boards was scheduled for 7 March and the next meeting of the National Advisory Board would take place before Easter.   

It was noted in discussion that connections were being pursued with the Regional Economic Partnerships.

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

The majority of work on the Net Zero pathfinder/WP1 was now complete; gap analysis was now being undertaken and it was expected that the final report would be completed in mid-April.

Good progress was being made on Commercial and Domestic Heat in Buildings (WP2). Evidence on demand and context of new jobs will be presented to the next meeting of the Delivery Group on 7th March. The Gateway Review remained due to be completed by the end of March. This would determine the dates for follow-on actions. 

Deep dive: apprenticeships – ‘unlocking potential’

Jane Duffy, Head of Apprenticeships and Lifetime Skills, presented to the meeting a deep dive discussion on apprenticeships. The presentation included some context on the development of apprenticeships in Scotland, providing an introduction to each of the 3 types of apprenticeships available to Scottish learners: Modern Apprenticeships (MAs), Foundation and Graduate Apprenticeships (FAs and GAs), and highlighted the upcoming Scottish Apprenticeship Week, which will run from 6-10 March 2023.

In discussion, the following points were made:

  • the presentation highlighted the place that apprenticeships have in society and that work-based learning (WBL) was a key part of the education and skills system. As such, it was important to enhance the value of these post-school routes, and not to focus solely or primarily on university places 
  • it was also helpful to consider the breadth of Work Based Learning options which included, but were not restricted to, apprenticeships
  • Modern Apprenticeships did not form part of the Shared Outcomes Framework, however it was helpful to understand the wider context of the work on FAs and GAs within the broader apprenticeship family
  • future planning for apprenticeships should consider a range of factors including: the role of employers, outcomes we want to achieve, measures of success and how to avoid adverse incentives
  • it will be important to think about how we match the demand for apprenticeships with provision, taking account of the context of other tertiary options and delivery models
  • both the Joint Executive Group (supporting the FA/ GA projects) and the Scottish Apprenticeship Advisory Board had important contributions to make to discussions about the future of apprenticeships
  • the FA Enhancement Group has worked collectively with key stakeholders and has developed an action plan for improving FAs, with 17 actions, as well as measures for success and timelines
  • the relationships built with stakeholders will be critical in driving improvement and progress of Work Based Learning of which there were many successful models in operation across Scotland  
  • across the skills landscape, it will be important to be clear about resourcing priorities and to continue to encourage employer investment in upskilling the workforce. There is an opportunity to think more broadly and to create greater consistency across the system
  • Net Zero was a key priority for Scotland and there was a need to consider whether and how existing provision and FA/ GA opportunities were sufficiently flexible and of the right scale to meet the requirements of the green economy. The Green Jobs Report published in November 2022 as part of the CESAP Pathfinder (WP1) highlighted the ongoing adaptation of existing skills provision, enabling new and existing apprenticeship frameworks to be redesigned and repurposed to meet net zero needs

Transitional arrangements for any future analytical and collaborative work

Kirstie Corbett gave a short summary on paper 4, ESIF update and next steps, which included an update from the Collaborative Working Group meeting on 10 February. The  Collaborative Working Group was content to confirm the conclusion of the ESIF project and actions and had agreed to review the learning to inform future activity and explore opportunities for further joint analytical activity. This would also involve consideration of future governance for joint analytical work. A lessons learned session would take place and feedback from this, along with the options for future joint analytical work will be provided to SOAG.

Preparation for Ministerial bi-lateral

The meeting discussed preparation of the forthcoming Ministerial bilateral meeting.

Any other business

The joint letter from the Minister, and the Chairs of SDS and SFC had been issued to the Public Audit Committee and the Education, Children and Young People Committee on 01 February 2023 highlighting progress made to date.

Following on from the discussion of metrics for the Shared Outcomes Framework held in December 2022, SFC and SDS had provided a summary of the outputs from their September workshop. It had been agreed that revised measures should align with the metrics in development for the National Strategy for Economic Transformation. Officials from the three organisations will propose a revised timescale for revision of the holding measures in SOF.

It was confirmed that the next SOAG will take place in May.

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 minutes which to be published on SG website.


  • action (280223 – 1): SG (Jane Duffy) to engage with SDS / SFC to develop a paper on work based learning for the next Ministerial bilateral meeting
  • action (280223-2): SG Secretariat to review and confirm dates for future SOAG meetings and bilateral meetings
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