Sustainable Economic Development (Further and Higher Education Support)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 26 June 2013.

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Photo of Rob Gibson Rob Gibson Scottish National Party

16. To ask the Scottish Government what further and higher education is doing to support sustainable economic development through engineering and other fields of study. (S4O-02307)

Photo of Michael Russell Michael Russell Scottish National Party

The Government’s further and higher education sector funding and support for engineering and related areas includes: colleges continually reviewing their curriculum and provision to ensure that they meet local economic needs; the establishment of the energy skills partnership across Scotland’s colleges to deliver energy and engineering-related activity collaboratively across regional and sub-sectoral hubs; the Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council’s allocation of an additional 1,200 undergraduate places from 2012-13 to 2014-15 and 850 postgraduate places over the next five years in science, technology, engineering and mathematics; the establishment of innovation centres as sustainable communities to support innovation for future growth and enhanced industry relevance; and the development of an engineering skills investment plan, which Skills Development Scotland is due to complete during the summer.

Photo of Rob Gibson Rob Gibson Scottish National Party

Given the experience of North Highland College with the global energy training school and the similar experiences of other bodies, could we codify or systematise the approach of creating partnerships between colleges and sustainable economic developers as something that is a great success for Scotland’s economic recovery?

Photo of Michael Russell Michael Russell Scottish National Party

The member is right to pay tribute to North Highland College. I have visited it and seen for myself the remarkable facilities that now exist and the work that is being done there.

Of course, regional outcome agreements provide the means to demonstrate the move forward in better aligning college provision with the needs of learners and employers. We want learners to develop the skills and knowledge that they need to get a job or a better job or to develop a career. Those arrangements also require colleges to be mindful of their regional and local labour markets and to prioritise provision to meet those needs.