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With the right skills, we can thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

SCDI’s Skills & Employability Leadership Group have today published their report ‘Upskilling Scotland: The Future of Skills and the Fourth Industrial Revolution’, which makes recommendations to ensure Scotland has the skills to thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The Leadership Group brought together experts from different sectors and geographies of Scotland, in strategic partnership with Skills Development Scotland, to consider evidence and hear from businesses and organisations on what steps they felt were necessary to deliver the skills Scotland needs to succeed and grasp the opportunities that lie ahead.

The report identifies the three key pillars of a high performing Scottish economy – high performing individuals, high performing workplaces and in-work development – and proposes 34 ideas to support them.

It calls on the Scottish Government to give everyone in Scotland a lifelong entitlement to learning through an Upskilling & Lifelong Learning Fund. Learners and workers could use this fund to finance reskilling and upskilling opportunities at any stage of their life or career.

The report also calls for a Scottish Disruption Council to manage social and economic disruption from technological change, and for a devolved immigration system to close skills gaps through increased inward migration into Scotland.

Matt Lancashire, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at SCDI, said:

Upskilling Scotland analyses the changing world of work and how our learning ecosystem needs to respond. Informed by the views and needs of our members, it makes a number of bold recommendations for change.

“By investing in lifelong learning, accelerating upskilling and reforming our immigration system, we can increase the diversity, productivity and competitiveness of our workforce to drive inclusive and sustainable economic growth for the benefit of all.

“SCDI looks forward to working with the Scottish Government, the UK Government, their agencies, universities, colleges and all of our members to make our vision of a high performing Scottish economy a reality.”

Christine Roberts, Group HR Director at David MacBrayne, a major employer in communities across Scotland, commented:

“As an employer, we are increasingly facing new challenges in attracting, retaining and developing individuals with the skills we need to succeed in the changing world of work. The skills required to adapt and learn as new technologies emerge, and to manage change effectively, are becoming ever more critical and are calling into question traditional qualifications and routes to employment.

“The opportunity to work with the education and skills sectors to explore our collective response to these challenges has been extremely valuable in shaping these key recommendations.”

Alastair Sim, Director of Universities Scotland, the representative body of Scotland’s 19 higher education institutions, said:

“The future economy will be driven by highly-adaptable people with the ability to thrive in multiple careers during their lifetime. That’s going to require core attributes like team working and analytical ability, and the constant re-learning of specific skills for specific roles.

“Lifelong learning needs to be back on Scotland’s agenda in a serious way, so SCDI’s proposal for a fund to support lifelong learning is very welcome and could give Scotland’s people an edge in an ever-changing skills landscape. We need the right support for true lifelong learning, through the workplace, college and university.”

Jill Glennie, Director of External Affairs at OPITO, the global skills organisation for the energy sector, said:

“As the energy industry in Scotland continues to adapt, there is a growing need to develop an increasingly flexible, multi-skilled and technology-enabled workforce; valuable across many different sectors.

“Equipping both the existing and future workforce for this dynamic environment is important and OPITO will continue to work with SCDI and energy industry stakeholders to drive the required skills agenda.”

Jamie Hepburn MSP, the Scottish Government’s Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills, responded to the report:

“Developing skills is key to making sure Scotland is strongly placed to respond to the challenges of a changing world of work. Many of the recommendations set out in this report build on the ambitions of Scotland’s Future Skills Action Plan. We must develop a skills system that is more responsive to the needs of our industries, workers and learners.

“I look forward to working with SCDI as we consider their recommendations and deliver on our shared ambition to provide our workforce with the opportunities they need to prosper in the labour market of the future.”