Mike Vickers' Blog

November 27, 2013

“The evolving Scottish Labour market; how the College sector fits in”

Filed under: DHI SPIF, Education, Scotland, Scottish Independence — derryvickers @ 10:44 am

On this auspicious day, 26 November 13, when the Scottish Government issued its White Paper on Scottish Independence  I cast my mind back only as far as the evening before to the David Hume Institute’s  seminar and Professor Keep’s realistic assessment of the evolving Scottish Labour market.  There is little he said that gave me any assurance that the situation would be any different whatever the Independence decision.  As I picked up, not only is the demand for jobs low and what there are for low skills, but that the demand for such jobs that there are, are over-subscribed.  One consequence is that there is little incentive for business managers to provide their low level low paid employees to any training.

He quoted statistics that 18% of Scottish employees are paid less than the ‘living wage’; just 2% better than for the UK as a whole.  Even managers in the catering business are paid no more than 25p – 50p above the national wage.  Somewhat surprisingly he stated that those on the lowest pay are complexed and uncertain of their future and subject to high risk. But then it’s a situation, which fortunately, I have never had to experience.  Despite this Professor Keep stated that  UK workforce is the 2nd highest qualified workforce in (Europe).

Both Professor Keep and Mandy Exley, Principal of Edinburgh College, the other speaker,  did agree that there could be hope in putting employees, managers and trainers together to see if there could be some synergy in creating training programmes that not only give job satisfaction to employees but increase productivity leading to more profitability.  In this respect they considered the Wood Committee report gives hope:


Ms Exley quotes the very encouraging statistics that for the Edinburgh College 30% of the students come from the lowest paid 20% of the population.  She was particularly pleased with the College’s courses in engineering tied to the oil and gas and the renewables businesses  and would like to expand  the College’s experience to tackle the care, tourist and hospitality businesses, although she recognised that these are more ‘horizontal’ (which I take to be broad based) than engineering.

Nevertheless Professor Keep came back to the point that, despite the desire to increase job skills at the bottom end of the job market, there will always be the lowly jobs that have to be done by someone.

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