SCOTS will have to work for longer, in multiple careers, in multiple sectors and for multiple employers, unless ministers push through a radical transformation of post-16 education and training, according to the IPPR think tank.
In a new report published today the IPPR say the country’s skills system needs to reform now to best deal with the changes of globalisation, Brexit, immigration, an ageing population and the rise of the machines.
In Equipping Scotland for the Future the body say the labour market faces challenges around the “three Ps” – pay, productivity and progression.
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Though pay in Scotland caught up with the UK rate between 2010 and 2015, there has been a fall in real terms in recent years.
The IPPR says that fewer Scottish people progress from low skill jobs to middle and high skill jobs than the UK as a whole.
And on productivity, they say “Scotland’s standing has improved against the UK average – but the UK has performed poorly over this time.”
The skills system, which they define as the “full range of skills, learning and education provision for post-16s in Scotland – from the senior phase of school, workplace learning, university, college and ‘Modern Apprenticeship’ provision,” needs to be redesigned with “learners and employers” at the centre to “create a more responsive system.”
They also call for “regional integration of the skills system” to “reduce duplication and increase efficiency”
The IPPR also warns that Brexit will “generate a number of headwinds against economic growth in the future” and that ending free movement of people will hamper Scottish employers ability to recruit from overseas which could result in a “greater reliance on the skills system”.
Russell Gunson, director of IPPR Scotland, said: “The skills system in Scotland needs help to deliver the economy that Scotland needs.
“In the short-term there are weaknesses in Scotland’s economy around pay, progression and productivity that the skills system can help to address.
“In the long-term, with demographic change and technological change likely to see a very different world of work we must make the decisions now that prepare us for this future.”
Gunson and the body call for six measures including setting out a clear national purpose of the skills system, and flexibility of learning to encourage people to learn at their own pace. Further recommendations include increasing the skills that can be transferred and clarifying the routes to learning where there is duplication.
Gunson added: “In particular, we will need to see a skills system with a much clearer national focus, one that is integrated at the regional level reducing duplication and a system focused as much on those learners who have already started their careers as those just starting out.
“By taking action now, we can prepare Scotland for the future, delivering a skills system that supports Scotland’s economy for the long-term.”