Auditor slams Scots Government on skills leadership

Stephen Boyle, Auditor General for Scotland

The Auditor General for Scotland Stephen Boyle has said the Scottish Government needs to take “urgent action” to ensure essential progress in improving how workforce skills are planned and provided.

Boyle said that in 2017, the Scottish Government, Skills Development Scotland (SDS) and the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) agreed to work towards skills alignment and a more integrated approach to equipping people with the workforce skills Scotland needs.

But a report by the Auditor General has found the Scottish Government “has not provided the necessary leadership or oversight for joint working between SDS and the SFC, with insufficient clarity on what it wanted to achieve and what success would look like.”

In addition, the report said the SDS and the SFC “have not been able to agree” how integrated approaches to skills planning should work.

“Current arrangements are unlikely to achieve the Scottish Government’s ambitions for skills alignment at the pace required,” said Audit Scotland.

“The Scottish Government should clearly set out its strategic aims and objectives for skills alignment, and how progress will be measured.

“It should also agree with SDS and the SFC how they will work together to deliver shared outcomes.”

Boyle said: “The Scottish Government recognises that workforce skills are central to inclusive and sustainable economic recovery and growth, but it has not provided the leadership needed to deliver on its skills alignment agenda.

“As a result, the anticipated benefits have not been achieved and opportunities for more efficient and effective investment have been missed.

“The Scottish Government now urgently needs to set out what it intends to achieve and how it will measure progress, as well as clarifying the governance and oversight arrangements for skills alignment activity.”