Skills Development Scotland are the national skills body for Scotland and we work with our partners to drives skills planning and development in Scotland, to develop and promote the value of work based learning for individuals, for employers and for the economy, and to achieve greater equality of opportunity for all.

Our approach aims to improve the response of education and training to meet the needs of industry and to give people in Scotland the best possible chance of securing jobs and succeeding in the world of work.

Our vision is of a Scotland that values skills, enabling people and businesses to reach their potential and contribute to building a competitive, inclusive and resilient economy. We will do this by continuing to embed an industry led work based approach to skills development. This will deliver higher levels of employer engagement and more and better learning pathways for young people.

Our core purpose is to make skills work for Scotland.

Looking to the Future

What are our ambitions and what are the key drivers for developing work based learning pathways?

Diane Greenlees LTTF2

Change is upon us, we are facing technological advances of the fourth industrial revolution, with rapid technological change. We are facing demographic shifts as the population ages, we are facing Brexit and we face the continued pressure on public funds. These changes are all having wide ranging impacts on our lives, work and the economy. In the face of change the Scottish Government has great ambitions around improving productivity, standards of living and inclusive growth.

Now more than ever we need people with the right skills to create the innovations that will drive an economy, that is inclusive, promotes wellbeing and builds sustainable growth. Skills are at the heart of ensuring individuals can gain access to good work, there needs to be a focus on inclusive growth through encouraging individuals from a more diverse background to take on skills that will meet industry demands and we need to work with industry to maximise returns on investment from across the skills and education system to boost economic growth and competitiveness.

There needs to be much greater alignment of education with the skills system, and this means working hand in hand with industry in order to develop individuals and ensure they are equipped with the relevant skills needed to support the economy now and into the future.

Looking to the future we need to equip both Scotland's businesses and our future workforce with knowledge, skills and capabilities that enables us to compete in an increasingly complex and changing environment and economy, and looking to the future we believe high quality work based learning pathways, is a big part of the solution to meeting the productivity and inclusive growth ambitions.

Looking to the future high quality work based learning pathways will lead us to the high performing inclusive labour market that will enable Scotland to flourish.

Developing Work Based Learning Pathways

There is significant international evidence to show that strong systems of work based learning contribute to low unemployment, fewer skills shortages and high economic and inclusive growth.

Over the last few years SDS has been working to strengthen the pathways in Scotland, building on the successful modern apprenticeship programme, SDS has been working with Scottish Government, with industry, with education and training providers to extend the apprenticeship family with the introduction of new foundation and graduate apprenticeships.

These new developments are designed based on what the top performing OECD countries are doing well, and they are designed the help support Scotland in its ambition to be a top quartile OECD performer in the future.

Taken together foundation, modern and graduate apprenticeships offer work based learning pathways for individuals with multiple entry and exit points, that develop high level skills, support career progression in key sectors and address the skills shortages we are facing now and over the next 5 to 10 years.

It’s really important to emphasise that these new developments in the apprenticeship family are employer led and designed by industry, for industry, and delivered with industry. So the skills apprentices learn are the ones employers want and need.

So all of the new developments and expansion plans over the next few years are focusing on the key growth sectors in Scotland and also identified and projected skills gaps highlighted through skills investment plans and our ongoing work with industry.

Key Developments

Now to focus on some of the key developments. We developed and expanded the provision of foundation apprenticeships. Foundation apprenticeships are a really exciting new work based opportunity and qualification within the senior phase of secondary school. They offer a new and innovative way for young people and industry to work together to provide young people with the skills, experience and qualifications they need before they leave school.

They’ve been designed to ensure they offer multiple progression pathways for young people and they have the value and equivalence within the senior phase curriculum as the other more traditionally understood and recognised academic qualifications like Highers. I think it’s really important to emphasise that foundation apprenticeships taken alongside other school subjects actually provide young people, on completion, with multiple progression routes. They are better equipped to progress into jobs, and into modern apprenticeships, and they are also recognised as entry qualifications into further education or higher education, so it’s opening up pathways and opportunities, it’s about enrichment of the senior phase curriculum and not an either/or.

We are continuing to expand the modern apprenticeship opportunities in key growth sectors with a focus on STEM, enabling more employers to train and upskill staff, and we have also developed the new graduate apprenticeships, new work based learning opportunities and a new and alternative apprenticeship route into degree level study.

So now in terms of expansion, some key stats in terms of where we’ve reached at the end of 2017:


Foundation Apprenticeships

So firstly foundation apprenticeships, we started with early pathfinders in 2014/15 and by August 2017 we had more than 1200 young people starting foundation apprenticeships across the country. We now have 2 two thirds of secondary schools involved, and delivery across 32 local authority areas with frameworks in 10 key sectors.

From August next year we are about to announce a really significant expansion, with an ambition for all schools to be involved and we will also see significant expansion in the number of people starting Foundation Apprenticeships, with frameworks expanded to 12 growth sectors. So from the early pathfinders in 2014/15, there is been significant expansion in FA opportunities and that’s down to the really strong leadership from industry, from colleges, working with other training providers and many partners in this room today.




Modern Apprenticeships

Now to modern apprenticeships, in 2017/18 we will offer more than 27,000 modern apprenticeships, working with 12,000 employers and training providers across Scotland and this is in line with Scottish Government’s ambition to reach the 30,000 starts annually by 2020.

And we are continuing to increase the numbers of starts in both STEM and Higher level frameworks as well as increasing starts from underrepresented groups, so equality is a big driver in terms of access of opportunity to all individuals across Scotland.




Graduate Apprenticeships

And the new graduate apprenticeships, the newest member of the apprenticeship family, we have our first phase of delivery in 2017 and we are moving into a further phase of development and expansion with 11 frameworks available for graduate apprenticeships designed by industry from 2018.




For us we see there are four key benefits for Scotland:

  • First benefits for individuals, these include greater work readiness in key sectors, greater chance of gaining and sustaining employment, increased opportunity for career progression and reducing the time to get into work on leaving education.
  • Second, benefits for employers include work ready individuals, increased productivity of employees, access to a talent pipeline where there are key skills shortages and reduced recruitment costs, and
  • Third benefits for key industry sectors, including improved higher level skills and T Shaped professionals with both the technical skills but also the key meta skills that we need for future jobs, and also key new industry designed qualifications in these sectors.
  • Finally benefits to the Scottish economy including improved youth employment rates, efficiencies in reducing the time for learners to get into employment and improved productivity.

So looking to the future we believe high quality work based learning pathways could lead us and will lead us to the high performing inclusive labour market that will enable Scotland to flourish. 

Diane Greenlees, Head, Foundation and Graduate Apprenticeships, Skills Development Scotland speaking at the Scotland Policy Conferences Keynote Seminar: Next steps for apprenticeships and skills development in Scotland held on 6th December 2017. 

Despite best endeavours to ensure accuracy, text based on transcription may contain errors which could alter the intended meaning of any portion of the reported content. Speakers have not had the opportunity for any corrections.

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

AELP Events added a new event yesterday

Designated Safeguarding Lead Training in FE

Overview It is a statutory requirement for professionals meeting ‘robust 2-yearly training’ for those with a lead or designated professional role...

  • Thursday, 14 October 2021 09:30 AM
  • Online

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page