Employability Fund (Promotion)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 26 June 2013.

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Photo of Margaret McCulloch Margaret McCulloch Labour

9. To ask the Scottish Government how it is promoting the employability fund to colleges and training providers. (S4O-02300)

Photo of Angela Constance Angela Constance Scottish National Party

Skills Development Scotland employability fund contracts for 2013-14 were awarded to colleges and training providers in March 2013. In advance of that, SDS held a bidders’ conference in Perth on 11 January this year and managed an online question-and-answer facility to support training providers as they prepared their employability fund bids.

SDS provides on-going support to employability fund training providers through a dedicated contracts manager, and it held a further information session for training providers in Stirling on 11 June.

The Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council has negotiated delivery of the college element of the employability fund as part of college outcome agreements. The funding council will continue to support colleges through regular engagement with outcome managers.

Photo of Margaret McCulloch Margaret McCulloch Labour

The feedback that I have received from the sector suggests that there is some confusion about the role of the local employability partnerships and the new co-commissioning model. What is being done to satisfy the sector that colleges and training providers that are not members of the LEP are not being placed at a disadvantage when bidding for employability fund contracts because of the LEP’s dual role? Specifically, can the Scottish Government provide assurances that any labour market intelligence that is gathered by the LEP, which should be subject to the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002, will be published openly?

Photo of Angela Constance Angela Constance Scottish National Party

This is the first year of the new employability fund, and I understand, from my engagement with organisations such as the Scottish Training Federation, colleges, local authorities and other providers, that its creation is very welcome and that it is bringing together organisations and funding pots.

Notwithstanding that, as it is the first year, there will be some very important learning that we can reflect on. That is important. We will have to reflect on the experiences of all providers, particularly as we strive to improve outcomes for young people.

The member is correct that there is a co-commissioning panel, which is led by SDS, but the decision on commissioning is made unilaterally by SDS and decisions have to reflect local need. I assure the member that, through my on-going engagement with stakeholders, we will learn and enhance the decision-making processes.

I will look at the issues that the member has raised about local labour market information and why it is not subject to freedom of information legislation. I have to say that that is news to me, but I will get back to the member on that.