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EACEA National Policies Platform


3. Employment & Entrepreneurship

3.3 Skills forecasting

Last update: 25 January 2021

LAST MODIFIED ON: 10/11/2020

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  1. Forecasting system(s)
  2. Skills development


Forecasting system(s)

The UKCES Working Futures report series, published in 2016 before UKCES closed in 2017 (see below), presents official labour market projections for the UK from 2014 to 2024. The series projects the future size and shape of the labour market by considering employment prospects by industry, occupation, qualification level, gender and employment status. The Working Futures model focuses on sectoral and occupational employment structures, qualifications, and general workforce trends (including replacement demand). The approach exploited existing official data, including the Labour Force Survey (LFS). The full methodology used is set out in the 2016 Technical Report

A suite of data workbooks complement the Working Futures reports. Each workbook contains analysis of projected employment and replacement demand by occupation and qualification level. Workbooks are available at varying levels of sectoral detail for the UK; the most recent edition for Scotland was published in August 2012.

The Employer Skills Survey (ESS) and Employer Perspective Survey (EPS) also contribute to the UK’s labour marketing forecasting. Both are biennial surveys, carried out in alternate years. The ESS provides insight into the skills issues employers face and the action they are taking to address them. The EPS provides data on the thoughts and behaviour of 18,000 employers across the UK as they make decisions about how to engage with training providers, schools, colleges and individuals in the wider skills system, to get the skills they need.  

Working Futures, the Employer Skills Survey and Employer Perspectives were produced by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES). Management of the Employer Skills Survey and the Employer Perspectives Survey will moved to the UK Government's Department for Education when UKCES closed in early 2017.

Skills Development Scotland

Skills Development Scotland (SDS) is the national body for skills and workforce development. SDS works with partners to implement its Skills Planning Model (see p.7) ensuring that the skills and learning system is responsive to the needs of employers. The model seeks to understand skills demand through:  

  • direct employer engagement
  • input from engagement with employer groups
  • insights through partner agencies and data research.

SDS’s Strategic Plan 2019-2022 identifies specific actions informed by the Scottish Government’s Economic Action Plan and the Strategic Board’s Strategic Plan to improve economic performance through skills policy. It includes the policy mission: 

Skills for the Future (FS) – encouraging and enabling a shift to a more demand-led skills system that better responds to the current and future skills needs of employers and individuals, including expanding work-based learning, and increasingly supports individuals to up-skill and re-skill.


Skills development

The Skills for Scotland: A Lifelong Skills Strategy (Scottish Government, 2007) aims to develop a cohesive lifelong learning system centred on the individual but responsive to employer needs. It concentrates on three main areas:

  • individual development
  • responding to economic and employer need
  • creating cohesive structures.

The strategy was refreshed in 2010: Skills for Scotland: Accelerating the Recovery and Increasing Sustainable Economic Growth has a renewed focus on the skills required to accelerate economic recovery, and on providing the opportunities for these skills to be developed and used effectively. It recognises progress and achievements since 2007 and sets out a more flexible, partnership-based approach to meeting Scotland's skills needs. Its vision is for a successful, globally competitive economy based on high skilled and better paid jobs, high productivity, fairness, and high quality public services.

There is a commitment to improving the skill levels of young people and therefore reducing youth unemployment. Central to this commitment is ensuring young people are equipped with the skills they need to progress into and sustain employment. Developing the Young Workforce, Scotland’s youth employment strategy (December 2014) aims to better prepare young people for the world of work and sets out how the Scottish Government and its partners will implement the recommendations of the Commission for Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce (published in June 2014) by creating a framework to expand work-based learning.

With the headline objective of a 40 per cent reduction in youth unemployment by 2021, the strategy emphasises the need for employers to actively engage in education so that young people gain the right qualifications and experiences to prepare them for work. It also seeks to address the inequalities faced by different groups of young people, including those from minority ethnic communities; those with disabilities; and young people in the care system.

Employability fund

The Employability Fund brings together a number of national training programmes to provide a more flexible, outcome-focused provision for individuals, which is responsive to the local-level needs of employers and the labour market.

All activities supported by the Employability Fund must facilitate individuals’ progression along the strategic skills pipeline (as set out in the table below) to sustained employment:

Strategic Skills Pipeline Stage

Nature of Content Expected

Stage 2

Provision should create a foundation upon which individuals can build their employability skills, personal development and core skills

Stage 3

Provision should support individuals in preparing for and sustaining employment, including entry to Modern Apprenticeships

Stage 4

SDS approved industry specific provision should directly enable individuals to access sustained employment.

Note that Stage 1 constitutes 'referral, engagement and assessment': participants may be referred by Skills Development Scotland (SDS), the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) jobcentre staff, local authorities, colleges and other training providers. Full details of eligibility requirements are set out in the Employability Fund Rules for 2020-21 (Skills Development Scotland, 2020).

Certificate of work readiness

The Skills Development Scotland Certificate of Work Readiness at SCQF level 4 has been developed in response to the requests from Scottish employers and their industry advisory bodies to have a national set of generic competencies that indicate that an individual is ready to join the workplace in an entry level job.

It is aimed at 16- to 19-year-olds who have not yet experienced the world of work but who are ready to make the transition into the workplace with the appropriate level of guided support for them. However, it may also be appropriate for other individuals who may wish to demonstrate their work readiness. 

Full details are available in the Arrangements Document for Certificate of Work Readiness (SCGF level 4).