Over-25s (Training)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 23rd March 2016.

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Photo of Cameron Buchanan Cameron Buchanan Conservative

5. To ask the Scottish Government what training opportunities it offers people over the age of 25. (S4O-05690)

Photo of Annabelle Ewing Annabelle Ewing Scottish National Party

We view Scotland’s people as our greatest asset. The Government therefore recognises that responding to the skills and training needs of individuals enables them to meet their full potential and is a prerequisite of inclusive economic growth.

On training support for adults, there is a range of provision in colleges, universities, communities and workplaces, and through Skills Development Scotland, our national skills agency, which provides professional careers advice and training support to individuals of all ages. Specific initiatives include modern apprenticeships for those aged 25 and over in key growth sectors, direct support from the SDS individual learning account programme for low-paid, low-skilled and unemployed individuals and in-work support via the Scottish Trades Union Congress Scottish union learning programme.

Photo of Cameron Buchanan Cameron Buchanan Conservative

The minister will be aware that the cutting of 152,000 college places by the Scottish Government has disproportionately affected older learners. Audit Scotland’s report “Scotland’s colleges 2015” shows that there are 41 per cent fewer students over 25 in our colleges than there were in 2008-09. Given that older learners are often the furthest removed from the labour market and other training opportunities, will the minister outline the steps that the Scottish Government has taken to help people over 25 to access training in Scotland?

Photo of Annabelle Ewing Annabelle Ewing Scottish National Party

On colleges, we have exceeded our undertaking to maintain full-time-equivalent places, and there are more than 119,000 FTE places. We make no bones about focusing on courses that will lead to progression to work and further educational opportunities to the benefit of the individuals concerned.

On opportunities for the over-25s, as I said, the MA programme is available to provide some support for over-25s in key growth sectors, such as the food and drink sector, in which 63 per cent of modern apprentices are 25 or over.

In relation to digital technologies, the transition training programme supports individuals to gain key skills that are required by information and communications technology employers in the Highlands and Islands. We expect some 40 per cent of the individuals who benefit from the transition training fund for people in the oil and gas sector to be over 25. The cabinet secretary referred to the programme, which will of course be available to the over-25s.

We are determined to ensure that we do the best that we can across the piece for people who seek work. Of course, the devolution of employment support services will happen shortly, but I am sad to say to Cameron Buchanan that the new powers came with, in effect, an 87 per cent cut from Westminster. Nonetheless, we will do our best to continue to help people who need a bit of help to get into work.