Our Goal

Scotland has a dynamic and responsive skills system.

An effective skills system is one where skills planning and provision reflects the current and future skills needs of the economy, giving all individual learners and employers the best possible chance of realising their potential.

An efficient system encourages people to transition from full-time education into productive, sustainable and meaningful work by the quickest, most expedient route available.

Our role remains to ensure skills planning, investment and delivery become increasingly demand-led, informed by relevant, timely intelligence and engaged employers, actively contributing to skills design and development.

We are committed to progressing the early work already undertaken to help ensure that Scotland’s skills system delivers the best outcomes for the economy, supporting productivity and inclusive growth.

We have developed and published Skills Investment Plans across


sectors and all regions

We have engaged with over


20 Industry Leadership Groups and Sector Skills Groups since 2015 to inform skills provision

Looking forward

One of the key recommendations for SDS from the Strategic Board’s Strategic Plan is to progress delivery of the 5-stage skills alignment model.

Adopting a demand-led approach to learning and skills provision will be critical to supporting people and businesses to thrive in the future and will be a key focus for SDS in the next three years.

To achieve this, we will rely on working in close collaboration with the SFC and the enterprise agencies, industry and employers, and wider stakeholders, but we will also ensure our work based learning provision evolves to lead the required change.

Over the next three years, we will:

Strengthen industry and partner ownership of the skills system

  • Ensure industry understands the value of engaging with the skills system, has a representative voice, and increasingly uses it to influence learning and skills provision.
  • Facilitate industry influence on the design of work-based learning through the Scottish Apprenticeship Advisory Board.

Build a high-quality evidence base using robust and comprehensive data

  • Maintain and expand the richness and accessibility of the evidence base
  • Clarify the critical skills needs of the Scottish
  • Better understand and demonstrate the longitudinal economic outcomes from existing learning pathways

Influence the prioritisation of resources in line with the evidence base

  • Establish a new agency-fluid team, led by a Director of Skills Alignment, responsible to SDS and SFC
  • Develop provision plans for the delivery of skills in Scotland based on an assessment of the current and future demand for skills, and align our commissioning and contracting decisions with these
  • Work with educators, community planning partnerships, and other partners to influence the national, regional and local economic landscape
  • Build confidence in the effectiveness of the 5-stage skills alignment model by piloting the approach
  • Identify the sectors and geographies that need most support to achieve shared prosperity
  • Recommend discrete interventions to provide ‘critical skills’ in the economy

Ensure work-based learning is efficient, responsive and future-focused

  • Implement a strategy for the future standards architecture of work-based learning in Scotland
  • Work to embed meta-skills in learning and skills provision
  • Drive innovation, employer demand and policy thinking in Scotland through the Centre for Work-based Learning
  • Support the development of a sustainable funding model for learning and skills provision.

Case study

College students like Louise are benefiting from our collaboration with partners to deliver a better match between skills training and employment demand.

Find out more

Our Strategic Plan

If you'd like to read our Strategic Plan for 2019-22 in full you can download it here. For more information on how we're influencing the learning and skills system, view pages 33-37.

Download here