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Work based learning can build on the skills system in Scotland to maximise returns on investment, an international event has heard.

Skills Development Scotland (SDS) organised the third International Work Based Learning Symposium to look at opportunities and challenges for the skills system.

International evidence shows countries with mature work based learning systems have:

  • low unemployment
  • fewer skills shortages
  • high economic growth

Were Scotland to match the youth employment rate of Germany it could increase Scottish GDP by 3 per cent or add £3.4bn per annum to the country’s economy.

SDS Chief Executive, Damien Yeates, said: “Despite record levels of investment in education, high levels of youth unemployment and under-employment persist.

“Developing work based learning, through new Foundation and Graduate Level Apprenticeships for example, builds on what’s good about the education system and the economy.

“Bringing industry and education closer together – as we see in Europe – challenges business to no longer be passive consumers of education.

“In Switzerland, for example, around 70 per cent of pupils start their senior phase with an apprenticeship.

“In Germany the high proportion of young people in vocational training contributes to the country having the lowest rate of youth unemployment in Europe."

Damien Yeates

“Employers will be crucial in making the cultural change which will see businesses employing and truly investing in young people through work based learning.

“The newly-established Scottish Apprenticeships Advisory Board (SAAB) will play a key role in fostering relationships between education and employers and ensuring that Scotland maximises the return on investment in work based learning.”

The International Symposium heard from leading academics and industry figures:

  • Dr Michael Nagel from Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University (Germany)
  • Dr Joel Vargas from Jobs for the Future (USA)
  • David Wilson from Strathclyde University’s International Public Policy Institute
  • Alison McGregor from HSBC Scotland and Chair of CBI Scotland

The International Symposium on Work Based Learning was held in Glasgow at the University of Strathclyde’s Technology and Innovation Centre.

Click here to watch a short highlights video of the International Symposium.

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