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The fifth Skills in Focus event took place in Atlantic Quay, Glasgow, on Friday 19 April 2013, hosted by Paul McKelvie OBE, Chair of the Joint Skills Committee. The Skills in Focus series is intended to stimulate informed debate around current and future skills issues.

The event featured a presentation titled "Opening the 'Black Box' - the increasing importance of a public policy focus on what happens in the workplace" from Professor Ewart Keep. Professor Keep is Deputy Director of the ESRC Centre on Skills, Knowledge and Organisational Performance (SKOPE), based at the School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University. He has written extensively on lifelong learning, apprenticeships, the incentives to learn, employers' attitudes towards skills and training, higher education policy, and the formulation and implementation of UK skills policy.

The event attracted senior representatives from across the skills landscape, including the Permanent Secretary to the Scottish Government. The organisations represented included Scotland's Colleges, the Scottish Funding Council, the Scottish Government, Skills Development Scotland, Scottish Trades Union Congress, Jobcentre Plus, the NHS, Universities Scotland, the Scottish Qualifications Authority, Support Training Action Group, the Scottish Training Federation, the Improvement Service and Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations. There was also representation from individual Scottish businesses, colleges, universities and local authorities. The diverse nature of the audience demonstrated the importance of the topic and contributed to a wide-ranging debate.

The presentation summarised the need to open up the 'black box' of the workplace when considering public skills policy. Professor Keep examines why limited policy attention has been paid to the workplace over the past 30 years in the UK, identifying both economic and social factors. He then turns to how policy, in Scotland in particular, can be reshaped to include the workplace as a central concern.

 

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