Policy priorities for meeting Scotland’s skills needs and next steps for apprenticeships
Aug 26

Policy priorities for meeting Scotland’s skills needs and...


  • We are pleased to be able to include in the agenda a keynotes session with Jamie Hepburn MSP, Minister for Higher Education and Further Education, Youth Employment and Training; as well as a senior speaker from Skills Development Scotland.

    The conference takes place as policymakers and stakeholders focus on next steps for mitigating the impact of both the pandemic and Brexit on the Scottish labour market, as well as on the attraction of overseas talent to the country.

    It will be an opportunity to discuss recently proposed measures from the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills for investment and support for workforce development and tackling skills gaps, as well the newly re-elected government’s first 100 days plans, including boosting youth employment and creating green jobs.

    Delegates will also consider reports from:

    • the Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board on measures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the labour market
    • the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery on the impact of learning loss during the pandemic

    Overall, areas for discussion include:

    • immediate priorities - what is needed from skills development to help drive post-pandemic recovery in Scotland - including priorities for apprenticeships
    • jobs of the future - strategies for supporting the transition to net-zero and preparing those entering the workforce with skills needed by the future Scottish economy
    • overseas talent - enabling skilled overseas labour to continue to contribute to Scotland’s economic resurgence, and the impact of the new immigration system on the labour market

    The agenda

    • Key priorities for skills development to support Scottish businesses and industry
    • Harnessing skills development for driving post-pandemic recovery
    • Preparing Scotland’s workforce for the future - skills shortages, investing in key sectors, dovetailing with the transition to net-zero, and supporting sustainable growth
    • The role of education and apprenticeships in driving up skills in Scotland - lifelong learning, work placements, online courses and accreditation, and ensuring students learn skills relevant for the workplace
    • Overseas labour and skilled migrants in Scotland post-Brexit - experience with adjusting to the new migration system, impact on the labour market, and policy priorities moving forward
    • Next steps for skills in Scotland

    Areas for discussion:

    Key priorities for skills development - in order to support Scottish businesses, industry and the recovery from the pandemic:

    sectors hit hardest:

    • targeting support for upskilling in sectors such as creative industries, tourism, and hospitality
    • supporting preparation to meet possible future threats to public health in Scotland through skills development and driving recruitment for healthcare staff

    improving productivity:

    • driving up key skills in leadership, team management and other areas that support productivity
    • ensuring skills are properly matched to roles that can bring the most benefit to businesses
    • digital skills and best practice in the smart use of technology and data to speed up business operations
    • priorities for Scottish infrastructure and connectivity

    Preparing Scotland’s labour market for the future:

    skills shortages and key sectors:

    • strategies for improving the labour market skills pool to support the growth of sectors such as construction, data, and AI
    • ways to incorporate digital learning into curriculums, and encouraging a diverse workforce in tech occupations
    • driving up the domestic pipeline of talent for construction and healthcare

    the net-zero transition:

    • assessing the skills needed for supporting a green infrastructure in Scotland
    • the role of education on climate change and renewable energies in school curriculums in attracting skilled young people to train for sustainable occupations
    • driving up support, re-skilling resources, and opportunities for those in industries facing challenges due to the transition

    Next steps for education, apprenticeships and work placements:

    lifelong learning:

    • priorities for encouraging and supporting adult learning in Scotland, and improving opportunities to find out about new training opportunities
    • how best to target support for those under threat of redundancy, or working in sectors facing changing working practices, automation, and struggling with the net-zero transition

    online courses and accreditation:

    • priorities for driving the recognition of bite-sized learning by employers
    • driving up support for businesses to upskill staff
    • evaluating the effectiveness of the Flexible Workplace Development Fund
    • next steps for partnerships between learning providers, The Scottish Government and businesses

    Overseas labour and skilled migrants:

    new migration system:

    • experience so far with navigating the post-Brexit immigration rules
    • impact on labour market skills shortages
    • policy priorities for ensuring the migration system supports Scotland’s skills needs

    visa exemptions:

    • the impact of the recent exemption for the fishing industry
    • outlook for further opportunities for supporting sectors reliant on overseas talent, such as social care and construction

    areas and regions of concern:

    • assessing the proposals of place-based immigration policy for tackling depopulation and skills shortages in Scotland’s rural areas
    • discussing logistics for matching skilled migrants with opportunities in struggling regions
    • additional support needed for migrants making the transition, such as the role of integration and social networks in supporting retention

    Key policy developments:

    the Future Skills: action plan phase 2 - published in March by the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, recommending:

    • increasing investment in workforce development to £20m per annum, building on the current £10m Flexible Workforce Development Fund
    • addressing skills gaps and shortages as a central part of Scotland’s response to the UK’s departure from the European Union
    • continuing to support industry-led Developing the Young Workforce Employer Groups, and identifying opportunities to enhance upskilling and reskilling opportunities

    The Scottish National Party - First Steps 2021 - the plan for the first 100 days of the new government:

    • supporting youth employment - appointing a Minister tasked with supporting youth employment, investing in training and employer recruitment incentives, delivering 5,000 more short industry-focused courses, and establishing a graduate internship scheme
    • investing in better greener jobs - moving to the next stage for the National Training Fund, setting up a new Green Jobs Workforce Academy, conducting a review of land-based education, and appointing new island-based crofting development officers

    further recent developments on ways to harness skills development to support post-COVID-19 recovery in Scotland:

    a report from the Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board, recommending:

    • improvements in the flexibility of colleges and universities to offer short courses on the skills needed by employers in areas such as artificial intelligence, automation skills, and supporting the transition to net-zero
    • expansion of opportunities for young people to find information on jobs and training online
    • broadening apprenticeship provision by harnessing virtual education and providing more off-the-job training opportunities in circumstances where employers are not able to accommodate learning in the workplace
    • a report from the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery, recommending:
    • that the learning loss created by the pandemic be urgently addressed to ensure it does not lead to long-term exacerbation of skills shortages in Scotland
    • that colleges and universities be protected from the financial impact of the pandemic, and supporting their ability to continue to upskill the population
    • prioritisation of apprenticeship training by deepening collaboration between universities, colleges and businesses, and investing in online learning

    Raising Scotland’s Economic Growth Rate - a recent report from Oxford Economics consultancy, commissioned by the Hunter Foundation:

    • analysing changes to be made to the Scottish economy to enable it to meet the challenges of the future
    • finding around a fifth of graduates to be working in non-graduate roles, and over a third of employers employing graduates to be over-qualified for their roles


    • that Scottish education policy be aligned with the needs of employers and businesses
    • greater encouragement of lifelong learning and upskilling
    • a focus on management skills and preparing the workforce for the technologies of the future

    developments around overseas talent in Scotland following the end of the Brexit transition period and the UK’s transition to a point-based immigration system, including:

    • proposals for a Scottish Visa - to mitigate against the impact of the end of freedom of movement in the UK by giving Scotland more powers to tailor immigration policies to meet the needs of the Scottish economy
    • the recent report from the Expert Advisory Group on Migration and Population - proposing models for a rural migration pilot in Scotland that would relax the conditions for the Skilled Worker Route for overseas skilled workers in areas hardest hit by depopulation, such as rural and remote regions in Scotland, and help them meet their skills needs in occupations of strategic importance
    • the announcement of new immigration rules which will make it easier to recruit staff for the Scottish fish industry - with deckhands on large fishing vessels with three or more years of experience to be eligible for skilled worker visas

    A Changing Nation: how Scotland will thrive in a digital world - a recent Digital Strategy from The Scottish Government for driving up Scotland’s capacity in the digital landscape, including through boosting digital skills by:

    • ensuring that digital skills are well embedded in education and aligned with the development of a new National Digital Learning Strategy for Scotland
    • establishing a Data Science Competencies Centre for boosting the adoption of new technologies in the public sector

    developments around ensuring Scotland has the skills for making the transition to net-zero, including:

    • the recently updated Climate Change Plan from The Scottish Government - committing Scotland to a green recovery from COVID-19, for instance through creating more green jobs and improving access to them through training and re-skilling

    Skills Development Scotland’s first ever Climate Emergency Skills Action Plan (2020-2025) - outlining key actions for ensuring Scotland has the skills needed for effecting a just transition to net-zero, including measures such as:

    • the launch of a Green Jobs Workforce Academy for supporting individuals to upskill and reskill to ensure they are able to gain employment in emerging green jobs
    • improving understandings of the range and types of green jobs needed in Scotland over the next 25 years through the establishment of a Green Jobs Skills Hub
    • the recent Vision and Action plan for developing green datacentres and improving Scotland’s terrestrial fibre connectivity, coupled with ambitions to drive up engineering and datacentre management skills to support this
    • the Flexible Workforce Development Fund 2020/21 - with Phase Two recently rolled out, providing Scottish SMEs access to training up to the value of £5,000 from the Open University to help upskill employees and support staff development
    • STEM strategy for education and training: third annual report - the Learning Directorate setting out a range of principles to improve STEM education and training provision in Scotland
    • Partnership Action for Continuing Employment - from the Fair Work, Employability and Skills Directorate, analysing the potential use of further data sharing to provide a more joined-up service to employers and those who have been made redundant

    Policy officials attending:

    Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by officials from The Scottish Government and the DWP.

    Overall, we expect speakers and attendees to be a senior and informed group including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior government and regulatory officials involved in this area of policy, as well as from business and industry leaders, human resources personnel, higher education institutes, skills platforms and training providers, local government, charities and youth outreach programs, science and technical centres, lawyers, school programme coordinators, researchers from academia and higher education, together with reporters from the national and specialist media.

    This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

    • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording and transcript to refer back to
    • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
    • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
    • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
    • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
    • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
    • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
    • too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

    Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference


  • Category
    Conferences & Events
  • Date & Time
    Aug 26 2021 at 09:00 AM - Aug 26 2021 at 01:00 PM
  • Location & full address
  • Event Admins
    Westminster Forum Projects (WFP)

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