The Scottish Government published the phase 1 report of its Enterprise and Skills review on Tuesday 25 October. The recommendations include the creation of a new enterprise body for the South of Scotland and a new Scotland-wide board to sit above the existing agencies. No change is proposed for the Scottish Funding Council although the recommendations call for greater alignment between the skills agencies. Work on the ‘learner journey’ will continue and an innovation action plan is expected by the end of November 2016. There will be a greater focus on coordination of international activity of the public and academic sectors. SDI may yet become a distinct organisation as the Scottish Government looks to increase the pace of its international trade and investment strategy.
Responding to the phase one report Alastair Sim, Director of Universities Scotland said:
“Universities fully support the drive to increase Scotland’s productivity and inclusive economic growth and we believe that Scotland has the assets we need in our research base, our capacity for innovation, our high-level skills and talent to do just that. We totally agree that Scotland must take a ‘no-wrong-door’ approach to businesses, public and third sector organisations looking for innovation and skills support. There should be more cross-referrals between agencies and others, and it should be much easier for would-be innovators to get the support they need.
“The agencies considered in the review all have increased productivity and inclusive economic growth as a goal. We believe it should be possible for them to work to a tighter, more coordinated set of objectives and measures. If a new Scotland-wide board, sitting above all of the agencies, can achieve greater integration we would welcome this.
“There’s still work to do to make sure we have the right range of options for people to progress through learning and skills development in a way that suits them, when it suits them. That includes lifelong learning and the need to re-skill. We need to make sure our education and skills providers are delivering what employers need now but we also need to look further down the line. We have to make sure we are equipping people to have the knowledge, the ability and the mind-set that will serve Scotland’s economy well into the future. That includes business and job creation as well as employment. Universities will play a full part as all of this takes shape.
“The Scottish Funding Council has an important role to play as a non-governmental body working to add value in the higher education sector. We are pleased that it will continue in its role. It needs to be funded and empowered to help universities fully realise their contribution to Scotland’s innovative potential and economic success.
“Having listened carefully to employers and industry sectors before this review began, universities are almost finished implementing their five-point plan to make it easier for businesses and others to work with higher education on innovation. The evidence points to greater levels of collaboration between business and universities. This is very positive.”