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Scotland’s strong and resilient work-based learning system is well-placed to support economic recovery from Covid-19 according to a new report.

The latest report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) ‘Strengthening skills in Scotland’ reviews the resilience of Scotland’s apprenticeship system and outlines four key recommendations. 

The OECD is an international organisation which advises governments and policy makers on best practice on a range of social, economic and environmental challenges.

The report recognises progress and innovations such as the expansion of the work-based learning system to include Foundation and Graduate Apprenticeships.

Its recommendations illustrate how Scotland can continue to build capacity to respond to change, especially in the face of challenges brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Skills Development Scotland Director of Service Design and Innovation, Jonathan Clark, said: “Despite being commissioned prior to the pandemic in response to trends such as automation and demographic shift, the OECD’s recommendations are even more important now as we face greater challenges and uncertainty than before.

“The last decade has seen significant development in Scotland’s work-based learning system. Building on this, Scotland needs to continue to develop and innovate to realise its ambition of a world-class apprenticeship system.”

Skills Development Scotland Director of Service Design and Innovation, Jonathan Clark

Produced in consultation with stakeholders from across Scotland’s work-based learning system and the Scottish Apprenticeship Advisory Board, the report outlines the following recommendations:  

  1. Introduce demand-led funding for apprenticeships, bringing Scotland in line with other leading apprenticeship countries.
  2. Establish minimum requirements for the length of apprenticeship programmes and for the proportion of off-the-job training, building on the work of the Scottish Apprenticeship Advisory Board. 
  3. Develop a non-apprenticeship route to the qualifications currently realised through apprenticeships, for experienced adult workers.
  4. Develop master craftsperson qualifications to open up higher level technical learning opportunities for apprentices.   
Alison McGregor, Co-chair SAAB and interim CEO

Industry leaders from the Scottish Apprenticeship Advisory Board, endorsed the OECD’s recommendations.

Alison McGregor is co-chair of the Scottish Apprenticeship Advisory Board. She said: “The recommendations outlined in the OECD’s report will support employers to retain and further invest in apprenticeships.

“This is even more relevant against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic and a challenging labour market and economy. 

“Taking forward these recommendations demands a collaborative, whole-system approach, bringing together partners from across the skills landscape to ensure that apprenticeships continue to play a key role in our economy to support Scotland’s economic recovery.”

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