Skills Committee Newsletter No.3 (July 2010)
A word from the Chair
Welcome to the third edition of the Skills Committee 2010 newsletter. Here you will find an overview of our progress and discussions of Committee meetings.
The Committee last met on 20 May 2010 and I would like to thank David Doig, CEO of OPITO, for providing a workshop demonstrating how OPITO understand and take forward employer demands for skills and how they lead the way on Workforce Development in their sector. The Committee welcomed the strong partnership that the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), Skills Development Scotland () and OPITO have been developing. For more information on OPITO please visit their website at http://www.opito.com/.
As ever, if you would like to find out more about our work in general, obtain further information on anything in this newsletter, or if you wish to contribute something yourself, please don't hesitate to email news and items to our new Committee clerk, Amy Clark:
Dr Janet Lowe CBE FRSE
Chair of the Skills Committee
Forthcoming Skills Committee meetings
Contact and further information
A strategy for Workforce Development in Scotland
The Workforce Development Action Group was set up by the Skills Committee and has produced its first report detailing initial findings on the development of a policy framework for the Workforce Development public offer. We found that this was a very complex issue covering many factors and the Action Group spent some time analysing the current public offer to understand the factors contributing to present arrangements. A draft final report with specific recommendations will be considered at the August meeting of the Skills Committee. We intend to have a final report ready for publication by the end of 2010, which will also be considered by the Strategic Forum.
Skills for Scotland refresh
The Committee welcomed the opportunity to discuss a summary paper and a presentation from the Scottish Government regarding the refresh of the Skills Strategy for Scotland. The refresh is intended to review and align economic and skills priorities more closely in order to respond effectively to the current economic climate and the future pressures on public budgets. During a debate on the strategy at the Scottish Parliament in January 2010, there was a broad consensus across all political parties concerning the importance of skills and education in Scotland, particularly for Scotland's economic recovery and prospective growth.
The Committee felt particularly strong about the need to have clear priorities set out in the refresh with attached timescales and lead responsibilities. The Committee advised that some specific priorities should be:
- a key sector focus on skills interventions;
- further simplification and integration of the skills landscape in Scotland;
- an effective network of Sector Skills Councils working within the Scottish context;
- SFC, and the enterprise agencies working together to align skills supply and business support;
- more robust labour market information that institutions can trust in order to make decisions regarding major changes in provision; and
- to build on the success of the skills utilisation programme of projects, which the SFC funds, and consider extending this programme to fund a similar pathfinder programme for workforce and workplace development.
Beyond this the Committee are supportive of various initiatives such as continuing support for additional Modern Apprenticeships, Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE), support for part-time learners, the More Choices-More Chances programme, and the 5,000 flexible opportunities that have at their disposal.
There will be further discussions regarding the key actions for SFC and once the refresh has been published, in September 2010.
Enterprise, education and entrepreneurship
The Committee discussed the SFC review of the Scottish Institute of Enterprise (SIE). The review findings were positive and found that the SIE is an effective model for introducing enterprise and entrepreneurship into universities and has wide support from universities and the business community. The Committee recognises that there is a need for a national organisation, such as SIE, to champion enterprise and entrepreneurial skills. Suggestions for strengthening the skills championed by SIE range from a focus on raising awareness of enterprise, building entrepreneurial skills and considering a different approach to tackle the challenges faced by college students if an SIE service were to be offered to Scotland's Colleges.
Funding of the SIE will continue and the SFC will continue to assist in the development of work in this area; presenting their findings at the next Committee meeting.
Recession interventions: progress report
Work has continued with a focus on minimising the effects of the economic downturn on individuals, learning providers and businesses through the alignment of SFC and roles, strategies and activities. The SFC announced its continuing support for PACE and other economic downturn measures. Colleges were also made aware of the announcement from the Scottish Government to introduce revenue funding of £8.4 million over 2010-11 to mitigate the effects of the economic downturn, particularly on young people.
ScotAction is the Scottish Government's skills support package for leading Scotland out of recession and back into economic growth, with three main elements; Training for Work, Training in Work and Training from Work to Work, all of which complement existing national training programmes such as Modern Apprenticeships, Training for Work and Get Ready for Work. ScotAction's apprentice wage subsidy schemes have proved valuable to many organisations and their employees.
and SFC are both contributors to the Scottish Government's "Summer Spike" Action Plan to ensure that young people leaving school and college in summer 2010 achieve positive destinations.
Learning to Work Two
The SFC executive set up a panel to independently evaluate work-placements and work-related learning proposals, which we invited under the Learning to Work Two strategy. The SFC's Investment Committee met on 2nd July 2010; making recommendations on funding, which we will make public separately.
The SFC funds two surveys (On Track One & On Track Two) tracking the evolving employment history of two cohorts of graduates from colleges and universities in Scotland. On Track One follows those who graduated in 2004, and On Track Two follows graduates in 2007. In summary, four years on from graduation, the majority (80 per cent) of Scottish university and college leavers are in jobs that are appropriate to their qualifications and skills, according to survey results published by the SFC.
On Track: Class of 2004; a survey conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the SFC, followed the journeys of university and college graduates who gained a qualification in 2004. The survey gathered their views on how they felt their qualifications had influenced their careers and levels of satisfaction with various aspects of their lives. The graduates were surveyed in 2004, 2005 and 2007, with the report showing results from the fourth and final survey in 2009. The final survey revealed that by 2009, 69 per cent of respondents considered that they had set out on, or are on track to, their chosen career. 83 per cent were in full-time or part-time employment, and 82 per cent had high levels of overall job satisfaction. Only 3 per cent were unemployed four years after gaining their qualification. Further information regarding On Track can be found at the following link: http://www.sfc.ac.uk/skills/On_Track/on_track.aspx.
Graduate employment is a focus for the SFC and Scottish Government as we continue to track graduate employment patterns during the recession.
SFC also provided funding to enable the Association of Graduate Careers Services in Scotland to provide extra advice and events to graduates in 2009.
Skills Utilisation news
Early dissemination events
In order to demonstrate the value of the skills utilisation projects and their potential we need to understand what does and does not work. We also need to build enough knowledge and expertise to allow replication. This approach will ensure that the SFC and are in a position to learn from both the operation and outcomes of the projects and the interventions they are piloting and to share this more widely. We are extremely pleased to announce three early dissemination events in June, August and September 2010.
RGU and Aberdeen College shared the outcomes of the research element of their project: Maximising the impact of skills in the oil and gas industry with around 40 participants in June 2010. Representatives from industry, SFC, SDS, and Scottish Enterprise joined key staff from both the institutions themselves and those representing other skills utilisation projects. Dr Janet Lowe, providing the national perspective on skills utilisation on the day, commended the project on their refreshingly honest approach to sharing lessons learnt during the early phase. On behalf of the Skills Committee she noted interest in the next phase of activities which may focus on themes including leadership and management, innovative practice and skills development and transfer within the industry.
West Lothian College will share their end of project outcomes at a dissemination event at the college on 26 August 2010. Their funded activity focused on the application of Business Improvement Techniques (BIT) to embed a culture of business improvement in selected organisations, provide knowledge transfer and contribute to raise the financial and other benefits through better use of skills in the workplace. As part of this event we will hear from workplace managers, BIT SVQ candidates and Green Belt candidates from some of the companies who have participated in the project.
Stevenson College Edinburgh will host their dissemination event at the end of September. This project focused on learning more about skills utilisation in the creative industries and in tourism and addressed personal development and effectiveness in particular using the Working with Attitude model.
Overall we are impressed by the commitment of the project managers to learn from their activities with employers and to share the outcomes and lessons learnt more widely.
SDS-Scotland's colleges key sector seminar: Tourism
Representatives from the college sector and met for the second of a series of key sector seminars, this time on Tourism. The seminar, which was held at Oatridge College on 7 June 2010, was attended by representatives of some 21 colleges. The aim was to exchange good practice and enable key stakeholders in the travel and tourism hospitality and leisure sectors to come together and identify current and future skills challenges and opportunities.
The focus of the afternoon workshops was the recently launched Tourism Framework for Change (TFFC) Skills Strategy, developed by the TFFC Skills Group, which sets out a number of key challenges and actions to support and meet the expectations and requirements of industry. The framework identifies four priority areas, under which sit strategic actions to be taken forward over the next five years. These are: 1) improving appeal and attracting new talent; 2) improving skills; 3) customer service; and 4) management and leadership.
The discussions that followed identified some key actions under each of these priority areas. Further discussion will take place between Scotland's Colleges and , and at the next meeting of the Skills Committee - to decide how to implement the action plan.
1) Improving the appeal and attracting new talent
- Facilitate good practice sessions at local level around training and development for tourism businesses. Provide practical examples, case studies and tips to demonstrate how training and development can help the bottom line.
- A co-ordinated campaign to highlight the diversity of career opportunity within the sector using press and electronic media.
- Events for key influencers of young people and career changers. Develop co-ordinated Lecturers into Industry and Industry into FE programme (Exchange programme) and identify businesses willing to engage.
2) Improving skills
- Promote and share good practice and case studies in relation to innovative employer/industry engagement activities in colleges; and good practice by employers in investing in staff.
- Map the "journey" of what is required at key stages in terms of skills, training, attitude.
- Improve engagement with local authorities and schools, linking to how the needs of the sector can be reflected in the delivery of Curriculum for Excellence and in the development of soft skills in young people.
- Consider how to promote greater awareness and understanding of the qualifications framework amongst employers.
3) Customer care
- Look at how Customer Care/Service could be linked with the Health and Wellbeing aspects of Curriculum for Excellence to improve employability of all young people but also provide an opportunity to raise awareness of the Tourism and Hospitality Sector as an employer.
- Explore the opportunities to utilise new technology in the delivery of training, coaching and mentoring to young people employed in Tourism and Hospitality.
- Undertake a mapping exercise of Customer Care/Service qualifications and training to provide a basis for colleges, sector representatives and employers to work more collaboratively to develop a standardised training programme.
4) Management and leadership
- Scottish Tourism Forum (STF) to supply Scotland's Colleges with a list of industry informed skills requirements for different personnel within the industry.
- Scotland's Colleges to inform and support the STF leadership group to develop a framework of key personnel skills requirements (from supervisory upwards) and map these against a contextualised suite of progressive management qualifications. The aim of this development of qualifications aims to become the branded tourism management and leadership recognised qualifications (comparable to CITB construction qualifications). These should be ready for delivery by September 2011.
- Colleges, through Scotland's Colleges, will declare to STF all of the sponsorships, scholarships and mentorships they support in order to allow showcasing and promotion of this in Scotland.
Forthcoming Skills Committee meetings
26 August 2010
2 December 2010
3 March 2011
2 June 2011
(Further dates will be announced in due course)
Contact and further information
We welcome contributions from colleges, universities and employers to our newsletter. Please contact Amy Clark, Clerk to the joint Skills Committee, Strategic Development Group, Scottish Funding Council, tel: 0131 313 6697, email: to make a contribution, request further information, or add your name to the distribution list.
Further information regarding the work of the joint Skills Committee and access to committee papers is available using the SFC website at:
We are working to refresh the newsletter and welcome any suggestions regarding its future content and format.
The next edition of the newsletter will be published in September 2010.