Informed Scotland May 2021 – National Qualifications & rethinking assessment

Issue 91 includes key guidance up to and including 5 June.

This edition marks nine years since the first issue of Informed Scotland. With youth unemployment currently at 8.0%, it’s reassuring to be reminded that, as well as being down from 12.0% last year, in May 2012 it was a shocking 23.1%.

It was good to see the Scottish Government publishing the Scottish Employer Skills Survey [ESS] 2020, after opting out of the last UK-wide version.

Interestingly, Informed 1 reported on the first survey, ESS 2011, published by the much missed UKCES. Back then, 14% of vacancies were due to skills shortages – in the current survey that was up to 21%. Conversely, fewer employers currently have skills gaps among the workforce (12%, vs 16% in 2011), and fewer have underutilised/over-skilled/over-qualified staff (33%, vs 58%).

A number of the new Scottish Government’s plans and priorities are relevant to learning & skills. In her 26 May Priorities of Government Statement, the First Minister said that ‘support for skills and young people is part of our wider mission to create a fairer Scotland’. (Informed 91 also includes a list of relevant Cabinet members and Parliament spokespeople for our subscribers’ ease of reference.)

But the main talking point has been the SQA’s National Qualifications – the controversial alternative certification model and appeals service for 2020/21 – swiftly followed by the announcement that reforms are planned for the SQA and Education Scotland. Meanwhile in higher education, a Jisc and Emerge Education Rethinking assessment report is encouraging universities to take the opportunity of the pandemic to make assessment ‘more relevant, adaptable and trustworthy’. Time perhaps for some cross-fertilisation of thinking and approaches.

Other interesting reports to highlight: on work experience during a crisis by Prospects, the tech sector by ScotlandIS, the challenges facing universities by the UK Parliament’s Scottish Affairs Committee, colleges’ financial challenges by Audit Scotland, and digital skills by Lloyds Bank.

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