Helping employers navigate the skills landscape in Scotland

Almost half (48%) of all young Scots feel that the pandemic has harmed their long-term career prospects, with over a third (34%) saying they are not confident about being able to achieve their future career aspirations. That is why the CIPD has launched its One Million Chances campaign, which calls on governments and employers to do everything they can to create opportunities for young people. 

With skills policy almost entirely devolved to the Scottish Government, the range of programmes that employers and employees in Scotland can get involved in is different to other parts of the UK. This can be challenging to navigate, especially for employers that operate across the whole country. Here we list some of the key devolved initiatives, with the relevant links throughout. 

Young Person’s Guarantee 

In response to the pandemic, the Scottish Government put a range of interventions in place, with the Young Person’s Guarantee being the most eye-catching. The Guarantee aims to bring together a host of initiatives under one umbrella, with a commitment to connect every 16- to 24-year-old in Scotland to an opportunity. Organisations can visit the Employer Hub to access a range of resources, join the Guarantee and advertise their opportunities. 

The Young Person’s Guarantee is underpinned by significant public funding. Much of this is used to develop employer recruitment incentives, which are delivered by local authorities through local employability partnerships. Employers should contact their local leads for advice on accessing the incentives, as well as other sources of funded employability support. 

Developing the Young Workforce 

Following the publication of the final report from the Commission for Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce, regional employer-led groups were set up across Scotland with the primary aim of connecting employers with the education system. 

A range of programmes are available through Developing the Young Workforce and there are many ways to get involved. Regional DYW groups can also help employers navigate the skills and employability system in Scotland. Contact details are available on this link

Skills for Growth 

Skills Development Scotland, Scotland’s key skills agency, is responsible for the delivery of most skills initiatives across the country. One of the key services it offers is Skills for Growth, which effectively functions as a skills diagnostic service for companies. 

In partnership with several well-known organisations, Skills for Growth provides a free consultancy service that can help identify skills needs and gives advice on what programmes to connect with. It is offered to businesses with between five and 250 employees. More information is available here.

Apprenticeships 

One of the key ways for employers to access funded support is through the apprenticeship system. Even though larger businesses in Scotland must pay the UK-wide Apprenticeship Levy, the way apprenticeships work and are funded is different across the UK. There are three main types of apprenticeship in Scotland and funding is available to cover all or some of the training costs, depending on a few factors. 

  • Foundation Apprenticeships are available in 15 different industries and are aimed at senior phase school pupils who can pick an apprenticeship as one of their subjects. These can be a useful way to develop an employer’s talent pipeline.
  • Modern Apprenticeships are the primary type of apprenticeship, available across 80 different frameworks at various skills levels. Different training contribution rates exist across the frameworks, with most funding aimed at younger apprentices.
  • Graduate Apprenticeships are a newer type of work-based training at some of the higher skills levels (up to Masters). They are available in a smaller number of areas, but the list is expanding. 

In response to the pandemic, the Scottish Government also introduced Pathway Apprenticeships aimed at school leavers. These shorter programmes included a weekly £100 allowance in addition to industry placements and training. Referrals are currently closed, but may open again in the future. 

In addition to the funded training during an apprenticeship, a range of recruitment incentives were introduced on a time-limited basis. Currently, the Adopt an Apprentice programme remains open. This provides £5,000 to employers who employ an apprentice who has been made redundant by another employer.

Flexible Workforce Development Fund

Employers across Scotland can also access funding through the Flexible Workforce Development Fund. A total of £20m has been allocated to the latest round of the fund, which has closed at the end of July, with more rounds possibly to follow. 

A few routes to funding exist – one for SMEs and two for Apprenticeship Levy payers. SMEs can access up to £5,000 to access training opportunities with colleges and the Open University in Scotland. Levy-paying businesses can access up to £15,000 for training opportunities with colleges, with a smaller fund available to access training delivered by independent providers. 

ITAs and National Transition Training Fund 

A range of funding is also available for upskilling and reskilling, and even though it is primarily employee-led, employers can help direct their workforce to these options. Individual Training Accounts provide eligible individuals with £200 towards the cost of training. ITAs aim to improve work-related skills and qualifications and courses are aligned to the Scottish Government’s Labour Market Strategy. 

The National Transition Training Fund was set up in response to the pandemic. The Fund is targeted at those aged 25 or over who are unemployed or who are at risk of redundancy and require upskilling or retraining. Applications for the second phase of the fund should soon be open through here

Certificate of Work Readiness 

Scottish employers can also help deliver the Certificate of Work Readiness, which asks employers to offer unemployed people 10 weeks of work experience, with support from a local training provider. Not only is this a way of providing mentoring opportunities for existing staff, it can also help employers with the recruitment of new staff with relevant experience.

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