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Scotland gets skilled
A new strategy designed to make it easier for businesses and individuals to access advice and support on skills was launched today.
The Scottish Government has refreshed the Skills for Scotland Strategy, which aims to simplify the skills system, empower individuals and employers to access help and support more effectively and better meet the needs of the key economic sectors and industries of the future.
Building on the 2007 skills strategy, it takes into account the changed economic climate and the new challenges facing businesses looking to support sustainable employment.
Launching the Strategy during a visit to Gems Engineering Ltd in Glasgow - one of the first employers to take advantage of the Flexible 5000 programme - Skills and Lifelong Learning Minister Keith Brown said:
"Our original Skills for Scotland Strategy was published three years ago when economic conditions were very different from those currently faced by individuals and employers across the country.
"This refreshed Strategy makes clear the Scottish Government's commitment to training and skills. It sets out a flexible, responsive, partnership approach to meeting Scotland's skills needs at a crucial point in our economic recovery.
"Skills are vital to employers of all sizes across all sectors of the economy and it is crucial that we have a strategy equipped to deal with the challenges and opportunities arising from the competitive environment we find ourselves in.
"This Strategy does just that by targeting support that meets the varying needs of both individuals and employers and the sectors of the future, including those in the low carbon economy."
The strategy reinforces national targets for Skills Development Scotland (SDS) which is already delivering more than 40,000 training opportunities this financial year, including up to 20,000 Modern Apprenticeships, 14,500 training places to support the unemployed and 5,000 places through the Flexible Training Opportunities programme. In addition more than 40,000 people are expected to benefit from Individual Learning Accounts this year.
It also builds on work already underway to support young people, including the 'Step Forward Scotland' programme, a package of measures launched in June to support young people leaving schools and college this summer.
A series of programmes are planned, such as the new Wind Turbine Modern Apprenticeship framework at Carnegie College in Dunfermline.
Councillor Alison Hay, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) spokesperson on Regeneration and Sustainable Development, said:
"COSLA has been involved in the drafting of the refreshed Strategy and we are fully supportive of its aims. We are conscious of the pressures on employers in the current economic situation and councils are keen to do all they can, despite reducing budgets, to ensure that people are equipped for the current jobs market and that employers do not have to contend with skills shortages. The Strategy refresh is therefore timeous and will assist all involved in this work."
Janet Lowe, Chair of the Joint Scottish Funding Council and Skills Development Scotland Skills Committee, said:
"The Skills Committee welcomes the government's refreshed Skills Strategy. It provides a clear and timely focus on the importance of skills for economic recovery in Scotland, together with an ambitious programme of action that will inspire all partners to work together to capitalise on Scotland's improving skills base.
"The Scottish Funding Council and Skills Development Scotland are working together to ensure that individuals and employers can develop the right skills and use their skills effectively in the workplace. We aim to ensure that the supply of learning opportunities meets their aspirations and is relevant to the economy of the future.
"The new Skills Strategy provides clear direction for the joint Skills Committee's work programme and we look forward to playing a key role in implementing the Strategy."
Jim Hendry, Managing Director of Gems Engineering Limited, said:
"Gems Engineering Limited is delighted to be one of the first companies to benefit from the Flexible 5000 Training Programme. We are a company who believes in investing in our people through ongoing training and development - helping to both improve the skills of our staff and the quality of the service we provide to our customers."