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The ever-increasing speed of economic, political and technological change presents Scotland with significant opportunities over the next 15 to 20 years.

Anticipating what learners, employers, educators, entrepreneurs and innovators will need to support and help them flourish is the focus of new strategic thinking from two high-profile public bodies published today.

In their new Strategic Plans, national skills body Skills Development Scotland (SDS) and the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), the agency that allocates funding to colleges and universities, outline actions aimed at using their combined budget of c.£2bn to create a more agile, dynamic and responsive skills and learning system.

With a clear focus on supporting the jobs of the future, SDS has committed to fully utilising technology to deliver its all-age Careers Information Advice and Guidance service in new and innovative ways and to support people through up-skilling and re-skilling initiatives.

It will also help employers grow through the continued expansion of work-based learning opportunities and through the promotion and adoption of innovative workplace practices that drive productivity and fair work.

Alongside its commitment to a more responsive skills system, the SFC will focus on creating a level playing field for access to further and higher education and investing in new research and innovation.

Also central to its strategy for the future is helping to make Scotland even more attractive on a world stage to academic talent and research investment.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney welcomed the plans and commended the agencies on their shared vision for the future and collaborative approach. He said:

“Our nation’s biggest asset is its people so I’m delighted to see Skills Development Scotland and Scottish Funding Council publish ambitious and informed plans which put the needs of individuals at the centre.

“We have much to build on including world-class universities, colleges that lie at the heart of their communities, world-leading, all-age careers information, advice and guidance and innovative work-based learning that responds to the needs of both individuals and business.

“This is exactly the forward thinking and aligned working the Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board has demanded and will help meet the ambition for Scotland to become one of the most productive, inclusive and sustainable economies in the world.”

Karen Watt, Chief Executive of the Scottish Funding Council, said:

“Our new strategic framework shows how we will invest in Scotland’s future to make our country the best place in the world to learn, educate, research and innovate.

Our close alliance with Skills Development Scotland will be vital to Scotland’s success in developing skills for a changing economy.

This, together with our partnerships with the enterprise agencies and the ability of Scotland’s universities and colleges to adapt and evolve, is the catalyst we need to achieve our collective success.”

Damien Yeates, Chief Executive of SDS, said:

“Such is the pace and scale of economic, demographic, political and technological change, that even our idea of work and skills will be fundamentally different in the coming years.

“Despite the scale of disruption the world faces, Scotland can become one of the most productive, inclusive and sustainable economies, but only if we act now. We need to understand the dimensions of change and learn to leverage our innate human characteristics and strengths.

“Today we’ve set out plans on how we will work with the Scottish Funding Council alongside other local and national partners to meet these global challenges by equipping our people and businesses with the skills to seize opportunities and achieve their full potential.”