From education to employment

Fiona Hyslop tells Association of Scottish Colleges Conference that colleges will play a major role

Scotland’s colleges can play a key role in meeting the recommendations of the Leitch Review by fostering school-college links, addressing literacy and numeracy demands and providing training opportunities for young people, according to Scotland’s education minister.

Fiona Hyslop, the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, told delegates at the annual Association of Scotland’s Colleges Conference last week that the recently published Futureskills report would inform the Scottish Government’s policies for helping to meet skills gaps in the Scottish workforce.

“We have already announced that we will be bringing forward our own Scottish Skills Strategy in response to the recommendations of the Review,” said Ms Hyslop. “It will be a Scottish Strategy for Scotland’s distinctive needs.

“The evidence base of the Futureskills report published yesterday will inform our strategy but I know Scotland’s colleges are ideally placed to play a central role in helping to achieve our aims and ambitions of making Scotland’s skills base truly world class,” she added.

Plans for a Scottish Executive Skills Strategy were announced in June and an implementation plan is due in the near future. The Strategy outlined ways in which sectors from further and higher education, such as schools and community learning, could contribute to the skills agenda. The Strategy also highlighted the kinds of skills that employers required, and the responsibilities of those involved in skills development.

“Developing the strategy will be a challenging task and one we need to work with others to achieve,” said Ms Hyslop. “The key contribution of Scotland’s colleges will be to gear up school-college links, address literacy and numeracy demands, increase knowledge exchange, and provide training opportunities for all young people who can benefit.”

Colleges charitable status at risk

In other news from the ASC conference, Jane Ryder, Chief Executive of the Office for Scottish Charities Regulator (OSCR) told delegates that Scotland’s colleges may lose charitable status unless the Scottish Executive ministers take action to exempt colleges from forthcoming changes in legislation. An ASC spokesperson said: “Colleges must retain charitable status in order to maintain their exemplary record in widening access to further & higher education. The ASC looks to ministers and parliament to work with OSCR in bringing forward the necessary amendments to current legislation as soon as possible.”

Microsoft call for business/college partnership

Bob McDowell, a Vice President at Microsoft, highlighted the need for businesses and colleges to work together to produce graduates with skills required by business. He claims there is currently too much disparity between business needs and graduate’s skills, but highlighted the need for businesses to invest in colleges as well as colleges to recognise business needs. He told the conference the UK should adopt more of an American-style funding system to engender a culture of ongoing support (both financial and in terms of time and expertise) whereby graduates maintain a relationship with the institution that gave them their qualifications throughout their career.

Annabel Hardy

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