Lifelong Learning and Reskilling (Support)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 24 March 2021.

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Photo of Clare Adamson Clare Adamson Scottish National Party

4. To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to support lifelong learning and reskilling. (S5O-05141)

Photo of Jamie Hepburn Jamie Hepburn Scottish National Party

W e are investing significantly in reskilling interventions in recognition of the important role of reskilling in supporting future skills transitions, including a just transition to net zero and our economic recovery from the pandemic. That includes investment in our national transition training fund, which supports individuals to retrain in order to secure more positive employment outcomes. We have recently confirmed on-going support for the fund in 2021-22.

We have also committed to developing a lifelong learning framework that will raise the importance of adult learning and ensure that it is integrated into the wider education and school system.

Photo of Clare Adamson Clare Adamson Scottish National Party

I am sure that the minister will join me in welcoming publication of the Cumberford-Little report and the Open University’s prospectus on skills in Scotland, both of which call for a skills-led recovery. The OU prospectus sets out a vision to galvanise higher education to support an inclusive economic recovery over the lifetime of the next Parliament. What steps is the Scottish Government taking to ensure that higher and further education remain open and accessible to everyone at any stage of their life?

Photo of Jamie Hepburn Jamie Hepburn Scottish National Party


Cumberford-Little report is an important one that we are considering closely. It aligns neatly with wider ambitions in the future skills action plan and with the wider skills realignment that we need.

The Open University is an excellent organisation in terms of its approach to lifelong learning generally. Recently, it has become involved in the flexible workforce development fund, which I have responsibility for and which has now been opened up to small and medium-sized enterprises, and it is leading on that work.

On the wider question about accessibility of higher education, we will, of course, continue to invest significantly in higher education in the coming financial year. One of the fundamental things that we will continue to do in relation to accessibility is retain our commitment to free university education. One of the questions in the coming election will be whether the other parties will follow suit.