Skills Development Scotland (Economic Recovery)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 23rd June 2022.

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Photo of Richard Leonard Richard Leonard Labour

8. To ask the Scottish Government whether it will outline the role of Skills Development Scotland in delivering its economic recovery plans. (S6O-01275)

Photo of Jamie Hepburn Jamie Hepburn Scottish National Party

As outlined in the ministerial letter of guidance issued to the agency for 2022-23, Skills Development Scotland—working with other agencies and partners—will support the delivery of key actions in the national strategy for economic transformation, particularly within the skilled workforce programme. The actions in the skilled workforce programme are designed to ensure that people have the skills that they need at every stage of life to have rewarding careers and that employers invest in the skilled employees they need to grow their businesses.

Photo of Richard Leonard Richard Leonard Labour

Back in January this year, the Auditor General for Scotland reported to this Parliament that the Scottish Government, for almost five years, had presided over a complete and utter failure to agree a plan for skills for Scotland’s workers. The Scottish Government was rebuked for not giving the “necessary leadership or oversight” or clarity to deliver that. Urgent action was called for.

Instead, it is six months later and the Government still has no credible skills plan. Workers, employers, trade unions and people who are out of work are still in the dark and Skills Development Scotland is now facing a budget cut of £5.8 million. When is the minister finally going to deliver what he was told that he needed to deliver back in January?

Photo of Jamie Hepburn Jamie Hepburn Scottish National Party

Of course, Mr Leonard refers to the report that the Public Audit Committee has considered. He knows full well that I am engaged in responding to the report. We have welcomed the recommendations and we are taking them forward.

I would reject the assertion that we have no plan in relation to a programme of delivering skills interventions for the people of Scotland. Through the national strategy for economic transformation, we have a range of commitments to support the provision of skills interventions across a person’s life. We also have the future skills action plan, which we are working towards.

Skills Development Scotland is funded to deliver the core services that it provides. Some services were provided as a one-off intervention and are not being funded now, but SDS has the funding that it requires to get on with the task, as demonstrated by the fact that we saw, for example, a 42 per cent uplift in the number of modern apprenticeship starts last year in comparison to the year before. That says to me that we have a skills system that is delivering.

The Presiding Officer:

That concludes portfolio questions. I will allow a moment for members to get themselves into place for the next item of business.