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A collaboration between colleges in east central Scotland has published their proposals on how best to deliver skills and opportunities in Scotland to support the economic recovery.

The East Central Scotland Colleges Collaboration, consisting of Edinburgh College (@EdinCollege_Int), Fife College (@fifecollege), Forth Valley College (@FVCollege) and West Lothian College (@WestLoCollege), worked to produce a comprehensive skills programme designed to help meet the future needs of the Scottish economy.

Titled the ‘Our Futures Programme’, their report recommends eight distinct reskilling and upskilling products that could provide much needed support to individuals and employers who are set to be hit by the economic downturn caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.

They include suggestions such as the creation of Skills Boost Academies in key areas such as digital and industry, and the development of Accelerator Programmes, which would see colleges across Scotland able to introduce accelerated versions of existing qualifications that are already on offer, such as engineering, computing and care. These innovative programmes will place the College sector at the forefront of the country’s agenda for economic recovery.

The other educational products that are recommended in the report include:

  • Kick Start+
  • Pre Apprentice Pathways
  • Short Accredited Programmes
  • Cooperative Apprenticeships
  • Adopt an Intern+ (AAI EmployAbility) 
  • Winter Leaver Guarantee

Each skills product was developed by the four colleges alongside Skills Development Scotland (SDS) having analysed labour market information, unemployment rates, levels of furlough, growth sectors and the local knowledge each of the colleges have of their region.

It comes after the Scottish Government formally launched the Young Person's Guarantee last week, which is designed to help those whose job prospects are set to be hit by the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Each of the proposals closely align with the skills-related commitments set out in the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government and target areas that are seen as an economic priority for Scotland.

hugh fife coll 100Speaking after the announcement, Principal of Fife College Dr Hugh Hall said:

"Colleges across Scotland know that we have a vital role to play in helping individuals and businesses deal with the economic impact caused by the Coronavirus.

"That's why our four colleges came together in this collaboration - to help develop a strategy for how we can best help deliver the fast-track and relevant training we need in Scotland over the short to medium term.

“Each of the recommendations in the report have been formulated after thorough analysis of the jobs market, and could make a huge difference to those looking to upskill and reskill, and to the businesses who will be looking for skilled workers in the coming months.

"The Young Person's Guarantee launched by the Scottish Government last week is an important step towards helping deal with unemployment, and colleges have a huge part to play in that. We have the potential to do more, and we're looking forward to continuing our work with the Scottish Government to help develop and implement these ideas."

Dr Ken Thomson OBE100Dr Ken Thomson, Principal of Forth Valley College, said:

“I am very excited about Forth Valley College’s involvement in the East Central Scotland College Collaboration initiative. By working together, we can have a really positive impact on the people who are, or who will be, affected most by the pandemic lockdown and the inevitable economic downturn that is starting to hit us.

“As a college, we have always been at the forefront of innovative programmes which meet the needs of both individuals and local and national skills agendas.

“Now, this new collaboration will enable all four colleges involved to tap into each other’s expertise to provide the very best courses, professional training, upskilling, reskilling and opportunities.

"This is a chance to make learning work for the people of the Central Belt and the East of Scotland and help the country on the road to economic, educational and social recovery.”

Jackie Galbraith100Speaking after the announcement, Principal of West Lothian College Jackie Galbraith said:

"Colleges are playing a vital role right now to help people and businesses deal with the economic crisis caused by the Coronavirus. At a local level, West Lothian College is working hand in hand with the council and other partners to support economic recovery and to strengthen our communities.

“With unemployment rising, our four colleges have created a comprehensive programme to develop the skills people need to succeed in the jobs market now and in the future. This collaborative effort will add real value to what is coming out of our respective local partnerships.

"The Young Person's Guarantee is a major step towards avoiding high levels of youth unemployment, and this exciting partnership of the four colleges in East Central Scotland will play a pivotal role in making the guarantee a reality for thousands of young people.”

Audrey Cumberford100Edinburgh College Principal Audrey Cumberford FRSE MBE said:

“We know that coronavirus is having a significant impact on people’s livelihoods and businesses across the world in a way that we couldn’t have fully anticipated at the start of the year.

“The impact of the virus is unprecedented, and across Scotland the number of unemployed people is expected to rise due to the economic impact we are already experiencing - which is set to continue as we navigate our way through these uncertain times.

“Together, with the other three colleges, Edinburgh College is committed and determined to delivering a range of support and opportunities for people of all ages across our region to retrain and upskill – focusing on meeting the skills needs of businesses and industries that have been hardest hit by the virus.

“By working together, and in collaboration with government and industry partners, we believe the products set out in the ‘Our Futures Programme’ will make an important contribution to enabling people and businesses across East Central Scotland to thrive.”

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