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Response to Withers Review

The Independent Review of the Skills Delivery Landscape was published today. The Review, authored by the former Chief Executive of Scotland Food and Drink, James Withers, robustly sets out a number of key recommendations for the Scottish Government around how the public body landscape should change in order to deliver a skilled workforce in Scotland as part of the wellbeing economy.

Colleges Scotland contributed to the Review, along with many other organisations.

Welcoming the publication, Colleges Scotland’s Chief Executive Shona Struthers, said:

“There is a lot of good analysis in the Review which is incredibly timely given the lack of sustainable funding for colleges and, in places, a cluttered landscape around education, training, skills delivery, and work-based opportunities in Scotland. None of us want waste, confusion, or duplication in the system, and all of us want learners to be at the centre of planning and decision making for how skills are delivered now, and in the future.

“Colleges would welcome clear leadership and direction from the Scottish Government which recognises the contribution of colleges to local and regional economies, communities, and the life-changing opportunities colleges provide for individuals. A new culture of leadership - alongside Ministers working to change the system for the benefit of learners - would be welcome. We have stressed that it will be impossible to deliver Ministers’ ambitions for a skilled workforce – as set out in the National Strategy for Economic Transformation (NSET) – without colleges.

“James highlights the different ways society can perceive and value apprenticeships, degrees, further education, and other work-based learning in the Review. He calls for “a revolution in how we think about learning”, and parity of esteem for all types of learning and achievement, which we agree with and have long called for from the college sector.

“The Review clearly notes the wide and deep role which colleges play across the country, and we welcome the publication today.”

Many of the recommendations published in the Review align with the College Sector Statement of Ambition.


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