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by Louise Wilson
20 January 2022
Government must ‘take urgent action’ on skills planning

Cultura Creative RF / Alamy Stock Photo

Government must ‘take urgent action’ on skills planning

The Scottish Government must “take urgent action” on skills planning, the auditor general has said after publishing a report concluding it had failed to take leadership of the agenda.

This has led to opportunities for investment in skills being missed and benefits of a more integrated approach not being realised, Audit Scotland warned.

The government committed to improving workforce planning in 2017 when a new ‘skills alignment’ approach was introduced.

This was to better align skills planning with provision.

Stephen Boyle, the auditor general, said: “The Scottish Government recognises that workforce skills are central to inclusive and sustainable economic recovery and growth, but it has not provided the leadership needed to deliver on its skills alignment agenda. As a result, the anticipated benefits have not been achieved and opportunities for more efficient and effective investment have been missed.

“The Scottish Government now urgently needs to set out what it intends to achieve and how it will measure progress, as well as clarifying the governance and oversight arrangements for skills alignment activity.”

The report said ministers must set out strategic aims or risk missing further targets.

It said there had been a “lack of consensus” between skills agency Skills Development Scotland and further education body the Scottish Funding Council, and the government had not provided clarity.

Revisions made to plans last year through a new working group was preventing good joint working, it added.

Jamie Hepburn, the minister for employment and training, said the government accepted the recommendations and he would make an update in parliament shortly.

He said: “Progress has been made in improving collaboration between SDS and SFC with more robust Scottish Government leadership, governance and accountability arrangements now in place. But I recognise more has to be done and I will be working closely with those partners who have a critical role to play in ensuring these positive trends continue.”

The Scottish Lib Dems said report showed the government was “stick in a rut”.

Economy spokesperson Willie Rennie said: “We need to ensure that young people have the skills they need to get ahead in life and those who find themselves out of work have a chance to retrain and try again.

“For years Scottish growth has been sluggish but the pandemic has meant that there is more urgency than ever in getting the economy firing on all cylinders.”

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