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03/07/20 09:32

Promoting skills and employment

Expert report welcomed.

A group of industry experts have submitted an action plan to limit unemployment caused by the economic impacts of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The report from a sub-group of the Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board, with representatives from business and Scotland’s skills agencies, was commissioned by the Scottish Government in May.

Their recommendations, which will be considered by the Scottish Government alongside last week’s report from the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery, include:

  • an expansion of online opportunities for young people to find information on future jobs and training
  • enhanced help for those facing redundancy, including the reshaping of the PACE redundancy support scheme with more frontline advisers, potentially through private sector secondment, volunteers and tailored support for businesses of all sizes
  • maximising the flexibility of colleges and universities to offer short courses so people can learn critical skills needed by employers, including digital, automation, artificial intelligence and the transition to a net-zero economy
  • assistance to support employee retention, including a ‘toolkit’ of measures to introduce new innovative work practices and upskill or reskill staff
  • short placement schemes to give work experience to under-25s who have been out of work for six months
  • expansion of apprentice provision, including more off-the-job training opportunities where employers cannot accommodate learning in the workplace, and virtual learning in schools

Nora Senior, Chair of the Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board, said:

“The sub-group has worked at pace to develop recommendations that we believe can be implemented quickly – not just to help keep people in employment - but also to support those facing redundancy or have already lost their job.

“The report highlights the need for a society-wide, civic response. The Scottish Government, its agencies, partners such as local authorities, and – crucially - employers in all sectors should come together immediately to contribute to the effort required to mitigate the economic impacts of the pandemic.

“Over the summer the sub-group will work on further developing actions to support Scotland’s economic recovery, including a focus on longer-term unemployed and more vulnerable groups.”

Frank Mitchell, Strategic Board member, and Chair of Skills Development Scotland, said:

“The availability of work is the key economic challenge emerging from the COVID-19 crisis, and we need to take action that will support both businesses and individuals during the recovery.

“That means helping employers retain staff while taking an innovative approach to training and apprenticeships that will help people find work. Underpinning this with enhanced redundancy support that builds on our existing capabilities will help ensure we emerge strongly from this crisis.”

Jamie Hepburn, Minister for Business, Skills and Fair Work said:

“I welcome this report and I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in producing it.

“The economic impact of COVID-19 continues to be severe, and one of the most concerning aspects is the risk of increased and potentially sustained unemployment. That is something we will do everything we can to prevent.

“The Scottish Government is already taking decisive action to help the economy through this crisis, including a £2.3 billion package of business support, and a £230 million economic stimulus package, plus significant levels of support to assist the safe restart of the economy.

“This report, along with the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery, gives us some valuable ideas for how we can provide workers – particularly young people – with the skills and opportunities they need to be able to play an active and fulfilling role in the workforce. We will now carefully consider each of the recommendations and respond fully in due course. ”

Background:

Report by the Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board sub-group on measures to mitigate the labour market impacts from COVID-19