Borders College

College back plan to help tackle economic growth in the Borders

A major partnership plan to ensure that the Scottish Borders is able to respond to a number of national issues has been launched with key partners including Borders College.

Borders CollegeSkills Development Scotland (SDS) have said that a reduction in immigrant workers due to Brexit, the rise in the number of older staff hitting retirement, and poor transport links are all factors that could stall economic growth in Edinburgh and South East Scotland.

To help deal with these issues SDS, along with a range of partners, has launched a new Skills Investment Plan (SIP) for the region. It will ensure all public sector agencies work more effectively together to meet the needs of employers and locals while encouraging economic growth and tackling inequality.

Commenting on the involvement of Borders College, Angela Cox said: “We have been involved in the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal since the planning stage and I welcome the opportunity to deliver a more targeted approach to workforce skills development across our region.

“The opportunity to influence and co-design programmes which respond specifically to our regional need allows us to support local employers and our communities by preparing the current and future workforce with the appropriate skills.

“Borders College is ideally placed to help deliver the ambitious targets, with a strong track record of working with employers to develop their current workforce and ensuring our students have the skills they require to be successful.”

From a national perspective Angela Leitch, Chief Executive of East Lothian Council, said: “This is a time of real opportunity and change. While there is diverse employment and a growing business base – with opportunities across a range of key sectors such as retail, tourism, financial services, health and social care – it’s essential that the new investment in the region benefits our own communities with a focus on inclusive growth.

“As the projects start to develop we need to ensure that skills supply keeps pace with demand, and that there are improved opportunities to support our citizens into and through employment. This is precisely what this Regional Skills Investment Plan is designed to do.”

The SIP sets out a 20-year vision to secure economic prosperity for the region as well as a three-year action plan developed with a range of partners, including local employers and educators.

It states that there is a growing need for digital, leadership and management skills to drive growth and diversification. But it also reports that, while the region has a highly qualified workforce, it also has higher than average levels of under-employment, as well as an ageing population.

At the heart of the plan are seven areas of action to be addressed over the next three years:

  • Building capacity and evidence to underpin a regional approach to skills investment
  • Ensuring skills opportunities from the City Regional Deal are maximised
  • Establishing clear pathways into key sectors and occupations
  • Developing an employer-led programme to improve digital skills
  • Enhancing support for developing leadership, management and entrepreneurial skills
  • Providing high-quality and more effective support for residents to access skills training
  • Enabling graduates and older workers to make more effective use of their skills

The plan will be a key driver in helping deliver the ambitious targets laid out in the £25 million, eight-year Integrated Regional Employability and Skills (IRES) programme, which includes giving nearly 15,000 more people access to training, as well as finding additional employment for 5,000 more.

Published: Wed 18th Oct, 2017