Relevant training can help national economy thrive

Focused approach to delivering the right skills at the right level should lead to greater economic productivity. Picture: Getty
Focused approach to delivering the right skills at the right level should lead to greater economic productivity. Picture: Getty
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Businesses needs skilled workers, writes John McMorris

SQA delivers Scotland’s National Qualifications – and much more – to ensure a skilled and well-trained workforce can deliver lasting economic growth. The enormous range of vocational courses and bespoke training packages offers employers what they need, and want, to play their part in driving forward Scotland’s economy.

SQA works with the Scottish business community, offering qualifications and training programmes to ensure a constant supply of skilled, well-qualified employees. Individuals who successfully achieve qualifications or complete training programmes are more motivated, reliable and productive and better-placed to make a real contribution.

On a broader level, a focused approach to delivering the right skills at the right level should lead to greater economic productivity. Successful nations enable their citizens to develop skills and knowledge to respond to changing demands. This includes delivering bespoke training for particular economic sectors – from spectator safety to offshore personnel. Wherever possible, this training is in a real workplace setting.

The focus must always be on partnership – working in a coherent way with the Scottish Government and its agencies involved in skills development and delivery, as well as businesses large and small. There is constant dialogue between experienced SQA staff and employers across Scotland to ensure qualifications and training systems are flexible enough to meet the current and future needs of individual employers and the economy.

The approach has to be joined-up, including academic and vocational qualifications and workplace training, which can all be mapped on the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework.

Young people fit for world of work

The new National Qualifications, introduced this year, are part of this framework, designed to ensure young people leave school fit for the modern world of work.

The new qualifications have been developed with employers in mind, with businesses involved in their creation. In addition, SQA’s series of Awards are designed to provide some of the life skills employers look for – such as employability, enterprise and leadership.

And SQA’s established Skills for Work courses focus on generic employability skills needed for success in the workplace, acquired through a variety of practical experiences, in the workplace or in a college, linked to a particular vocational area such as construction, hairdressing or hospitality. Beyond school, vocational training has to be relevant – and on-job training must be available for employers who want their workforce to keep up to date with the latest skills.

For 16 to 19-year-olds, the Certificate in Work Readiness provides the chance for them to prove they have the skills employers want. Designed by Skills Development Scotland and accredited by SQA, it includes an employer-assessed work experience placement.

SQA’s programmes are flexible, supporting different learning styles as well as different employer needs.

Working with employers

There are SQA qualifications suited to everyone in the workplace, from Scottish Vocational Qualifications and Modern Apprenticeships for those starting out, through to Professional Development Awards for those seeking to advance their career at a senior level.

If the training required is unique to a business or industry, SQA can work with employers to develop their own Customised Awards. These tailored qualifications formalise specialist skills and knowledge and can be designed to complement any in-house training already in place.

The breadth of SQA’s portfolio stretches across a number of key industries, from energy to retail, hospitality to healthcare. There is a real depth to the courses as each qualification is created in partnership with subject specialists and business and industry representatives.

SQA works extensively with Scotland’s network of colleges and training providers, who offer SQA qualifications across the country.

We also work with employers, including those who want to offer SQA qualifications to their staff, but prefer to keep their training in-house.

Experienced SQA staff work in partnership to enable them to become SQA centres in their own right, delivering qualifications directly to their employees.

SQA is ambitious for Scotland, determined to play a full part in ensuring our people and the economy benefit from a qualifications system that meets the country’s needs – now and in the future.

• John McMorris is director of business development, SQA. For more information isit

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