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To support his talk at this year's SCDI Forum, Director of the Centre for Work-based Learning, David Coyne explains the importance of a partnership approach to find innovative solutions to economic and social challenges.

The global economy is in a state of constant change.  For thousands of years old technologies have given way to new ones, dominant nations have been displaced by emerging ones and new ways of working have changed the way business is done.

Change is constant, as it is often said, but not all change is the same.  The set of circumstances facing Scotland now in 2018 are particularly important, and if we embrace and influence the impacts on our country we stand to benefit, economically and socially.

So, what are these changes and how do we influence them?

Firstly, technology is changing.  We hear a lot about automation, robots and artificial intelligence.  The reality is that the AI technologies which exist today cannot replace Humans, they lack the capacity for reasoning and abstraction that Humans have, but they can enhance and improve business processes.  The most powerful combination of assets in an organisation is the Human skills of judgment, emotional intelligence and problem solving combined with the machine skills of data analysis and process management.  Smart, competitive companies recognise and utilise both.  We can encourage this through having support for companies to recruit, develop and deploy human talent in a way that rewards both the employer and the employee.

Secondly, society is changing.  We are living longer and having fewer children, so the working age population will shrink, with migration, rather than birth rate the mitigating factor.  Those changes create a growing number of people who will be recipients of goods and services beyond the end of their working life.  That in itself will drive innovation in the way health, care and social services are designed and delivered.  The relatively smaller number of young people will also mean that there is a greater imperative to use their talents properly.  Work-based Learning in all its forms is demonstrably effective at getting young people into jobs where they are able to flourish and acquire skills which will give them a sound start in the ever-changing world of work.

The most powerful combination of assets in an organisation is the Human skills of judgment, emotional intelligence and problem solving combined with the machine skills of data analysis and process management.

Partnership working

The Centre for Work-based Learning exists to promote that approach, celebrating the success stories of companies and young people who are creating the world class products and services which will add to our collective prosperity.  In addition, though, we want to work alongside bodies like SCDI to analyse our nation’s assets, to identify economic and social challenges and to find innovative solutions.

Work-based Learning, whether at the beginning of a career in an Apprenticeship, or later through retraining and adapting to change, means that individuals are able to maximise their contribution and reward from the work they do. 

Being part of the SCDI Forum gives us a unique opportunity to meet with leaders from industry, commerce and the public sector, and to engage in debate on the challenges and opportunities for Scotland.  We hope that, through events like this we can put a Work-based Learning Strategy at the heart of our collective approach to increasing our shared prosperity.

Visit the website for the Centre for Work-Based Learning here.

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