Investing in Scotland’s future skills – Business Minister Jamie Hepburn
Today I was delighted to visit Whitespace in Edinburgh and learn about their innovative approach within the creative industry sector and their commitment to upskilling and training their workforce. Their investment in their employees is evident in the quality of their work and the culture of their business.
This type of business is central to our vision in Scotland’s Future Skills Action Plan which was launched as part of the First Minister’s Programme for Government last week.
This government is committed to ensuring inclusive economic growth and increasing productivity, and the Future Skills Action Plan is an essential component in making this happen. At the heart of the plan is the need to re-orientate Scotland’s skills system, to be more agile and responsive to meet the demands of a changing labour market and to respond to the needs of the economy.
The Future Skills Action Plan outlines the range of factors to which Scotland’s skills system will have to respond in future. That includes our response to the regional and sectoral skills impacts if the UK Government forces Scotland out of the European Union, and the important role a skilled workforce will play in supporting Scotland’s economic recovery post-Brexit.
Scotland’s highly skilled workforce – the OECD ranks Scotland first out of 36 in terms of high-level qualifications and we have more people aged 25-64 who are tertiary level educated than any other EU country – is an incredible asset. This plan is ambitious and forward looking and aims to set the direction and framework through which we can deliver Scotland’s future skills as well as build on the strengths of our current workforce.
The way in which skills are accessed is key to inclusive economic growth. By working to promote access and opportunity within the skills system, we can help to ensure that the people of Scotland have the ability to reach their potential and as such increase the productivity of our nation.
We must ensure our skills system inspires confidence in businesses and individuals, allowing them to play a full role upskilling and retraining to meet the needs of our economy. That’s why as part of this Plan I have reaffirmed my commitment to increasing our provision of work-based learning so that it is accessible to both individuals and businesses alike.
Employers are key to ensuring that our workforce is highly skilled and I am committed to working in partnership with our businesses to achieve this. In July, I launched a third year of the Flexible Workforce Development Fund, allowing UK Apprenticeship Levy-paying employers to upskill and retrain their existing workforce by utilising £15,000 worth of college training. As part of this new action plan, I am delighted to announce an extra £10 million worth of investment for workforce development, doubling the Flexible Workforce Development Fund.
I look forward to working with a range of stakeholders to ensure that this investment best supports employers and individuals increase inclusive economic growth.
In addition, this plan confirms that we are working with CBI Scotland and the Scottish Trade Union Congress to engage businesses, workers and wider stakeholders to identify how reskilling and upskilling opportunities can deliver the skills needs of Scotland’s future workforce.
Over the coming months, I look forward to meeting and working with many of you to ensure that we make the necessary changes to the skills system. By adopting a culture of shared investment in Scotland’s future workforce we can, together, unlock the potential of our people, our businesses and our economy.