IPPR recommends creation of open institute of technology in Scotland to address mid-career skills gap

Written by Jenni Davidson on 10 May 2017 in News

The think tank is calling for more investment in skills and better career progression for low-skilled workers

Russell Gunson, Director of IPPR - Image credit: Holyrood

Scotland needs an open institute of technology to address the mid-career skills gap, according to a report from the IPPR.

The new mid-career learning route would have a mix of online and face-to-face provision delivered through existing providers in a flexible, transferable and modular approach, the think tank suggests.

It would be focussed on delivering improved rates of career progression, pay and productivity, starting with low-skill sectors.


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The creation of an institute is one of the recommendations in the report by the IPPR looking at Scotland’s skills needs by 2030.

The report also calls for sector-based innovation academies, a national outcome-based approach to the ‘three Ps’ of progression, pay and productivity, a progression unit to tackle the poor career progression among low-skilled workers and increased business investment in skills.

According to the report, over 2.5 million, 78 per cent, of adults of working age in Scotland will still be of working age by 2030, while over 46 per cent of jobs in Scotland are at high risk of potential automation over the next few decades.

The IPPR says that with longer working lives potentially in multiple jobs and in multiple careers in future we will need to do more in terms of mid-career learning.

It says: “While there are gaps in the publicly funded skills system, these do not seem to be being plugged by employers themselves.

“Investment in training by employers has dropped in recent years across the UK, and too many employers are pursuing a low-skilled business model.

“This investment also has a social dimension, with high-skilled workers twice as likely to receive investment in their skills as low-skilled workers.”

Russell Gunson, Director of IPPR Scotland, said: “There are more than 2.5 million people already in the workforce today that will still be working by 2030.

“There are also 1.2 million jobs in Scotland at risk of automation over the same time.

“Scotland urgently needs to design a skills system better able to work with people already into their careers to help them to retrain, reskill and respond to world of work of 2030.

“Scotland has a really strong record on skills in many ways, and in this report we find that Scotland is the highest skilled nation in the UK.

“However, our system has a clear gap in that we don’t have enough provision for people who have already started their careers, and employers are not investing to fill this gap.

“To respond to the huge changes facing Scotland around demographic, technological and climate change – and of course Brexit – we’re going to have to focus on retrofitting the current workforce to provide them with the skills they need, to deliver the inclusive economic growth we wish to see.”

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