Response to James Withers’ Skills Delivery Independent Review




Policy Consultations


In September 2022, the Scottish Government announced an independent review of the skills delivery landscape in Scotland as part of work to ensure that the skills system is fit for purpose for delivering Scotland’s national outcomes and meeting future economic challenges including the transition to net zero. The review’s Call for Evidence opened on 28 October 2022, seeking evidence on:  

  • Scotland’s skills delivery landscape,  
  • Apprenticeships,  
  • National occupational standards,  
  • Upskilling and reskilling,  
  • Sector and regional skills planning,  
  • Careers and young people, and 
  • Employer engagement and support.  

Enginuity provided a response to the review on 21 December 2022: 

  • Emphasising the importance of being able to understand and respond to labour and skills supply and demand, and attract young people to STEM careers. We noted how our products would help to solve these issues for the E&M sector.  
  • Raising several issues on apprenticeships including: (1) the importance of promotion and parity of esteem, (2) supporting progressions from modern to graduate apprenticeships, and (3) better funding for older workers.  
  • Emphasising, on National Occupational Standards (NOS), the importance of ensuring there was sufficient funding to deliver the NOS Strategy’s principles, priorities and actions. In particular, the NOS needs an effective 3 year rolling plan of rationalisation and updating, before a continuous improvement cycle can be implemented effectively.  
  • Noting, on upskilling and reskilling, the importance of further developing modular qualifications and career transitioning tools to support the upskilling and reskilling of existing, experienced workers to meet changing skills needs.  
Response to James Withers’ Skills Delivery Independent Review PDF

On 7 June 2023, Withers published his report entitled ‘Fit for the future: developing a post-school learning system to fuel economic transformation’. The Review considered skills functions and remits of Scotland's national public bodies, making 15 recommendations for structural and operational changes to support the National Strategy for Economic Transformation including: 

  • Establishing a new single funding body for both HE and FE, 
  • Recasting Skills Development Scotland as the national careers agency and removing its other functions,  
  • Moving responsibility for skills planning to the Scottish Government,  
  • Replacing the Scottish Apprenticeship Advisory Board with a network of regional employer boards and a national employers’ forum, and 
  • Exploring how the National Occupational Standards can be adequately funded and resourced.  

The Scottish Government responded to the review in its Government’s Initial Priorities document, which indicated the Scottish Government would accept the basis of the recommendations on language, skills planning, employer engagement, funding, and pathway reforms, set out in Withers’ report.