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An action plan to help more people find work, improve skills and boost growth across Ayrshire has been launched.

The Ayrshire Regional Skills Investment Plan focuses on the skills needs of people and businesses across North, South and East Ayrshire.

National skills agency Skills Development Scotland (SDS) has worked alongside partners including local authorities, colleges and universities to create the plan which draws on local experiences to identify opportunities for skills investment.

The plan aims to boost inclusive growth to ensure that economic recovery is green and accessible to everyone. Four strategic goals are at the heart of the plan, aligned to the Ayrshire Growth Deal and broader skills investment.

The goals are:

  • Investing in growing talent across Ayrshire by capitalising on sectoral opportunities and ensuring learning and training meets employers’ needs.
  • Ensuring pathways into work are clearly defined, supporting new entrants and job changers.
  • Supporting investment in upskilling and reskilling for the existing workforce.
  • Improving employability outcomes by tackling employment barriers and promoting inclusive growth.

The plan was welcomed by Alastair Dobson, Managing Director of Taste of Arran Dairies, and Chair of the Ayrshire Regional Economic Strategy Working Group. He said: “Investment in business and in our people will be at the heart of Ayrshire’s economic recovery and future success.

“Central to this will be ensuring that Ayrshire has a diverse and accessible skills pipeline to meet growing demand across key growth sectors, ensuring that employers can fill existing and emerging vacancies to unlock their potential.

“To address the skills challenges outlined in the plan it is important that the regional partners and all three local authorities work together to promote Ayrshire as a vibrant and viable place to visit, work, and live.”

“Investment in business and in our people will be at the heart of Ayrshire’s economic recovery and future success. It is important that the regional partners and all three local authorities work together to promote Ayrshire as a vibrant and viable place to visit, work, and live.”

Alastair Dobson, Chair of Ayrshire Regional Economic Strategy Working Group

In 2021, total employment for Ayrshire (measured by people) was estimated to be 138,000 - 5.4% of Scotland’s total employment.

Although the sectors with the largest share of regional employment in 2020 were human health activities (11.7%), retail trade (10.1%), education (8.1%), public administration & defence (6.3%) and social work (5.9%), industries such as motor trades, accommodation & food services, financial & insurance activities, and arts, entertainment & recreation all experienced a growth in employment between 2015 and 2020. Ayrshire also has unique regional employment opportunities from the visitor economy.

Paul Zealey, Skills Planning Lead at SDS, said: “Creating a dynamic, resilient, inclusive and intelligence-led skills system that supports employers to invest in their current and future workforce is crucial to Ayrshire’s current and future prosperity.

“It is a key element in developing a sustainable and competitive regional economy in which people can enjoy rewarding and fulfilling careers, increase the attractiveness of the area as a place to live, work and invest.

“The plan makes clear that partnership working is essential if these ambitions are to be realised, and SDS is committed to working with partners across all sectors to support the people and businesses of Ayrshire.”

The plan is aligned with the Ayrshire Growth Deal, which represents a £251m joint investment funded by the UK and Scottish governments and the three Ayrshire local authorities, and which has the potential to leverage a further £300m in private investment, with the aim of creating up to 7,000 new jobs by 2029/30.

Marcus Ross, University of the West of Scotland’s Vice-Principal of Planning and Recruitment, said: “As Ayrshire’s regional University – and an anchor institution within Ayrshire more broadly – we’re delighted to have played an active role in the development of this vital plan.

“We now look forward to continuing to work closely alongside our partners within the region and beyond, in order to ensure Ayrshire’s skills requirements – both now and in the future – are met as comprehensively as possible.

We’re pleased to continue to strengthen our focus on the skills needs of Ayrshire’s people and businesses, through the Ayrshire Regional Skills Investment Plan.”

"We look forward to continuing to work closely alongside our partners within the region and beyond, in order to ensure Ayrshire’s skills requirements – both now and in the future – are met as comprehensively as possible."

Marcus Ross, Vice-Principal of Planning and Recruitment, University of the West of Scotland

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