The Alliance of Sector Skills Councils in Scotland yesterday launched a three-year action plan to improve the skills and qualifications of the country’s workforce.
Launched in April last year, the Alliance represents all 25 Sector Skills Councils (SSEs) and works closely with stakeholder partners to present a cohesive network position on policy issues, helping articulate the employer voice in the skills system.
Sylvia Halkerston, HR director of Macphie of Glenburvie, the independent food ingredients manufacturer, hailed its commitment as an important step for Scottish industry.
Ms Halkerston said: "The formation of the Alliance of Sector Skills Councils, Scotland, has made it easier for employers to work more closely with Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) as a group, not just within a particular sector. This has brought two distinct advantages; firstly collaboration on cross-sector skills issues means that there is a clear focus for SSCs.
"Secondly, consistency of Labour Market Intelligence (LMI) data means that sound, comprehensive information now forms the basis for human resource decision making. The Alliance of Sector Skills Councils, Scotland, has wasted no time in becoming effective, and has quickly brought the relevant bodies together to ensure action."
In preparation for the eventual upturn in the economy, the action plan will help Scottish employers ensure that their staff have access to appropriate training and are able to up-skill. The scheme also focuses on supporting those currently in education to develop the best skills possible before entering employment.
Jacqui Hepburn, director of the Alliance of Sector Skills, Scotland, said: "The Plan lays out how SSCs will work together to ensure that the employer voice on skills is heard in Scotland. This is a critical time for Scottish employers.
"For many, continuing investment in skills is challenging due to the recession, with many having to downsize and make redundancies. Now, more than ever, employers need to invest in skills to ensure they have the necessary skilled workforce for when the economy recovers.
"The Alliance, through the delivery of its Action Plan, will continue to advocate for a system that is based on employer demand and for the continued investment by employers on skills and learning. This will ensure that employers will have the skills required now for the jobs of the future."
Minister for Schools and Skills, Keith Brown, added: "The Scottish Government is determined to ensure that people in Scotland have access to the right skills and training to enable them to get into work, stay in work and contribute to Scotland’s economic recovery when the time comes.
"We are equally determined to ensure that businesses make the best use of the skills of their existing workforce and support them in up-skilling, where required, for their mutual benefit.
"I therefore welcome the launch of this action plan by the Alliance of Sector Skills Councils which has placed the needs of business, at this difficult time, at its heart."