Towards Ambition 2020: skills, jobs, growth for Scotland
Scotland’s future prospects – its route out of recession, its chances of a successful recovery, and sustainable economic progress thereafter – depend on the industries, businesses and jobs it is able to create, and on having the skilled workforce it needs to do those jobs well.
Towards Ambition 2020: skills, jobs, growth for Scotland (PDF, 2.2 Mb)
Published February 2010
As the UK seeks to recover from recession, we need more people in work and more people in productive work. We need more businesses, and more successful businesses, offering more and better jobs.
And we need more and better skilled people to get us there and keep us there. There is little that is more important than equipping ourselves with the skills we need, for the jobs we need, for the successful businesses of tomorrow.
The recession also provides an unparalleled opportunity to reform our employment and skills systems – to ensure they are equipped to deliver the calibre of services that will make us world class.
What are the challenges to be addressed?
In Ambition 2020, the UK Commission for Employment and Skills set out a compelling analysis of the evidence relating to the UK’s international position on productivity, employment and skills. Despite significant progress in skills over the last decade, neither the UK as a whole, nor Scotland, is world class in skills, and not yet on a trajectory to be so at all levels by 2020.
We identified three root causes of this:
- Relative to other industrialised nations, Scotland has too few businesses in high skill, high value added industries, too few high performance workplaces and is creating too few high skilled jobs. Comparative to our ambition, we don’t have enough employer demand for skills, and employers do not utilise the available skills effectively to capture productivity and competitiveness gains;
- Despite strong skills performance relative to the rest of the UK, too many young people in Scotland fail to gain the essential and lower level skills needed to progress in work. As a result, too few adults possess the skills to succeed in tomorrow’s labour market, or the motivation, confidence and opportunity to gain them;
- Current employment and skills systems in Scotland are neither fully integrated and consistent, nor always sufficiently aligned to labour market needs. In a period in which individual and employer demand for skills should be increasing, these systems do not empower consumers (employers and learners) to drive demand, performance or quality improvement.
The Commission believes these to be long standing issues which will be compounded by considerable pressures on, if not real reductions in, public expenditure over the next few years, creating two challenges:
- We need to strengthen – not diminish – the quality of our frontline services; we must, therefore find innovative approaches to delivering more with less and maximising the public resources reaching the frontline by eliminating any structures and processes that do not add real value;
- We must leverage, over the medium term, significantly more co-investment in skills and workforce development from employers and individuals if we are to improve services in order to meet our world class ambitions – this will require those customers to be able to make more informed choices about the learning opportunities available to them.