Skills: Shared Outcomes Assurance Group minutes: 17 January 2023

Minutes from the meeting held on 17 January 2023.

Attendees and apologies

 Scottish Government

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

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

Scottish Funding Council (SFC)

  • Liz Shevlin, Deputy Director, Coherent Learning Provision
  • Sharon Drysdale, Deputy Director, Work-based Learning and Skills Programmes,
  • Martin Boyle, Director of Policy, Insight and Analytics
  • James Dunphy, Director of Access, Learning and Outcomes

Scottish Government Secretariat

  • Linda McCourt, Programmes Unit (LLS)
  • Mary Maxwell, Programmes Unit (LLS)
  • Tanya Friel, Programmes Unit (LLS)
  • Alistair Imlach, Programmes Unit (LLS)


  • Stuart King, Senior Principal Research Officer (LLS)
  • Neville Prentice, Senior Director, Service Development & Delivery, SDS

Items and actions


  • 10:00-10:05 welcome and review of actions by exception (paper 1) -  Chair
  • 10:05-10:35 progress updates by exception (paper 2) – SROs
  • 10:35-11.05 deep Dive: Upskilling/Reskilling (paper 3) – SG SROs
  • 11:05-11:15 finalising the Shared Outcomes Framework (SOF) verbal update - SROs
  • 11:15- 11.25 preparation for the Ministerial Bilateral
  • 11:25-11:30 AOB –  Chair


Welcome and review of actions by exception

Helen Webster welcomed attendees on behalf of the Chair who joined the meeting once technical difficulties had been resolved. Linda McCourt noted apologies received.

Linda McCourt provided an update on the Action Tracker, noting that there was to be a discussion on the finalisation of Shared Outcomes Framework (SOF) metrics later in the agenda.

All other actions from the November Shared Outcomes Assurance Group (SOAG) had been completed although it was noted that the report on the Tertiary Regional Pathfinder had not been shared prior to publication as intended. It was agreed that it would be helpful to develop a publication schedule detailing intended publications and handling.

Progress reporting: updates by exception

The Chair invited SRO’s to provide the following project updates, with reference to the Project Status Reports which had been submitted prior to the meeting.

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

There had been positive progress across majority of workstreams on this project since the last meeting. Both FA / GA were still at amber RAG status, reflecting that the guidance had not yet been published. FA guidance will be published later in the week and GA guidance by the end of January.

It was also noted that budget considerations for FA/GA delivery in AY23/24 contributed to the amber RAG rating.

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

The London Economics and accompanying contextual reports had published in December 2022 and a wash up session has been arranged for the ESIF Collaborative Working Group on 10 February 2023. This will cover agreed areas, which include future analytical collaboration.  

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

As noted the summary report of Work Package 1 (Data and Analysis) had been published in December 2022.

Work on issuing grant offer letters to the pilot projects in each pathway is progressing and grant letters had been awarded before Christmas.

Good progress had been made on evaluation and learning. A learning partner would be appointed shortly. Examples of curricular planning were expected to be available in the springtime.

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

On work package (WP) 1, good progress had been made. A review of the evidence to date had taken place and the focus for the next reporting period would be on gate gap analysis, drawing also on the qualitative interviews carried out by consultants.

Work on WP2 is also progressing well, with the mapping of investment to support heat decarbonisation.  It was now anticipated that this work would conclude by the end of January with the Gateway Review to take place by end February 2023.

Upskilling and reskilling deep dive

Richard Dryburgh gave a short presentation on Upskilling and Reskilling which was the last of the areas identified in SOF to be discussed by SOAG. This work would form part of the Lifelong Learning and Skilling project  (Project 12) to be governed through the National Strategy for Economic Transformation (NSET) Skilled Workforce Programme, although SOAG would continue to be kept apprised of progress and have the opportunity to discuss and engage. A group had been established for the NSET project and this included representation from SFC and SDS.

Background information focused on key trends including in-work training and employer investment in training. Progress has evolved over the last six months, with research and evidence programmes undertaken to understand the challenges and the success of current measures. Stakeholder engagement has also taken place with a number of Local Authorities as well as the Poverty Alliance and Scottish Government colleagues in OCEA to understand key trends and the lived experience.

Initial research and evaluations will be published in January / February, and more internal engagement will take place with key partners across the Scottish Government including teams focusing on Community Learning and Development (CLD) and Purpose and Principles for the post-16 Education, Skills and Research ecosystem.

Key risks identified for this work included timelines and work with existing investment; budget constraints and the importance of having consistent definitions.

In closing, Richard reminded the meeting that no proposals had been pre-determined and that further work continued to interrogate the evidence to inform potential solutions.

In discussion, the following points were made:

  • it would be important to use appropriate metrics to capture what mattered. There could be unintended consequences on using statistics which did not capture the intended outcomes. It was noted that there was further work to do around the metrics and many sources of data to draw on
  • it was also important to recognise the difference between upskilling and reskilling
  • it will be important to reflect and consider longer- term goals and to develop a shared baseline of what the system is currently delivering 
  • there was scope to engage with industry via the ILG Chairs’ group meetings to explore good existing examples of employer interventions and showcase these
  • there is a need to think about where and how we are making links to the Regional Economic partnerships and to consider how the public sector can provide greater stability particularly for institutions supporting SMEs in the rural economy. The Flexible Workforce Development Fund, although directed towards large business, was possibly of greatest benefit to SMEs
  • employers could be seen as the consumer of skills and as such there could be a number of levers to increase their engagement in this area
  • it is important to identify a baseline of what is currently underway and the upskilling development fund can provide some of that data

Finalising the Shared Outcomes Framework (SOF): verbal update

Chris Brodie gave a verbal update on the work to finalise the SOF metrics following the discussion that had taken place at the November SOAG meeting. The original metrics developed at pace needed to be reviewed to ensure they remained correct and appropriate as a baseline. Work on this has concluded and a theory of change has been developed. A joint workshop took place to challenge and support the thinking on this and the proposed final measures will be shared with SOAG members shortly. As noted in November, these do not include measures for the upskilling and reskilling work which will form part of the wider NSET measures. It was noted that the finalised measures will require to be signed off by all three partners and that the SOF will be revised at an agreed date to include these. 

SDS confirmed that they were content to share the detail of the logic model but that it was intended for this to be summarised in the final paper.

Preparations for the Ministerial bilateral

 The meeting briefly discussed plans for the bilateral meeting which would include a discussion on upskilling and reskilling. 

Any other business

Forthcoming SOAG meeting

Members were invited to consider the focus for the next SOAG meeting; it was suggested that as projects mature, a forward plan for SOAG and the year ahead would be helpful in shaping next 12 months.

It was confirmed that the dates of future SOAG meetings would be confirmed shortly; it was anticipated that the next meeting would be Tuesday 28 February 2023.

Communication with the Scottish Parliament

Following on from the discussion at the last bilateral about communication with the Scottish Parliament, the Minister and the Chairs of SDS and SFC proposed to write to the Public Audit and the Education, Children and Young People Committees to provide an update of progress. It was anticipated that a draft letter would be circulated shortly for finalisation and signature.  [post script: this has now been circulated to SFC and SDS and agency comments are being incorporated before a draft shared with agency Chairs and Chief executives, and with the Minister]

The Chair thanked everyone for attending the meeting and reminded the members of the procedures to be taken under GDPR were any participants ro object to the inclusion of their personal information in the SOAG material which would be published on the Scottish Government website.


  • action (170123 – 1): Secretariat to work with SDS and SFC to develop a publication schedule including timelines and handling plans for the publishing of reports and documents associated with the projects of Shared Outcomes Framework
  • action (170123 – 2) The ESIF collaborating working group taking place on 10 February will discuss plans for further analytical collaboration
  • action (170123 – 3): SDS to share internal research on upskilling and reskilling
  • action (170123 – 4): The paper setting out the proposed finalised SOF metrics, and the full logic model will be circulated to SOAG members to consider; all partners will sign off the revised content which will inform the update of SOF
  • action (170123 – 5): Members were asked to send suggestions for the agenda for the bilateral meeting to the Secretariat
  • action (170123 – 6): A forward plan will be developed and discussed in order to shape SOAG discussions over the next 12 months
Back to top