In all my years at SELECT I don’t think I have ever seen such a guddle as currently exists in the UK skills arena. Things are particularly confused and uncertain in England, but Scotland equally presents many and varied challenges – but more of that later.
Let’s start with the good news – the commitment by Scottish Government to stick with Modern Apprenticeships (MAs). MAs work for the building engineering sector and the business sector generally. They deliver qualified and competent workers and add value to society.
Importantly, the targeted and recently rationalised funding regime now provided through Skills Development Scotland (SDS) encourages a focus on apprenticeships in the science, technology and engineering sectors that meet the real high level skills needs of a vibrant UK economy.
So the assurance by our First Minister that MAs are here to stay in Scotland is at least one area of certainty. The complete lack of certainty in almost all other areas of the skills arena is, however, worrying for our industry.
The growing number of players, schemes, initiatives and government interventions that currently exist creates a dissonance that complicates matters for everyone, and businesses in particular.
It shouldn’t be so complicated, but it just is at the moment and for the foreseeable future.
The situation does, however, also create the opportunity for an organisation like SELECT to take control and bring some sort of order amid the chaos. SELECT has the resources, knowledge, experience and contacts to bring together the pieces of this complex jigsaw.
Working with the many stakeholders, we can simplify matters for the industry, and SELECT Members in particular, so that it becomes easy for electrical contractors to engage with skills issues and provide the training and development that supports their people and meets the needs of the business and its clients.
Getting it right in the skills arena will also underpin the many other important areas of SELECT’s work.
Delivery of quality member services, all aspects of regulating the workforce and the industry and the representational and promotional activity needs of the sector all rely to one degree or another on the robustness, credibility and quality of skills and qualifications and everything that surrounds them.
So going forward, excellence in skills will be the watchword for SELECT in the coming years. Indeed, it will be much more than that.
Excellence in skills, and all the related regulatory, training, development and Member service deliverables, will provide the sole focus for all SELECT staff and the work of the Association for the immediate future. It will be become our thematic goal and we intend telling the world.
SELECT – excellence in skills, you heard it here first!