Informed Scotland Learning & Skills Hottest Topics 2023

Which learning & skills topics appeared on the most covers of Informed Scotland over the past year? Here’s the 11th annual list.

=1. Digital literacy, skills & inclusion (– in 2022)

=1. Energy transition & green skills, jobs & workforce (=3)

= 3. Apprenticeships (–)

= 3. Colleges – finance, students, staff & regionalisation (NEW)

= 5. AI – impact on education, skills & work (–)

= 5. Qualifications, exams, assessment & review (=1)

= 5. Skills shortages & gaps, planning, investment & policy (=1)

= 5. Teachers – development, employment, workload & wellbeing (–)

= 5. Tertiary/post-school education (–)

Two share the top spot:

  • Digital skills is back at the top after not making the top three for the first time ever in 2022. It has now held first or joint first place six times and is one of only two topics to have appeared in ten of the 11 annual lists.
  • Energy transition & green skills was a new entry in 2022, and has jumped from joint third to joint top this year. Its inclusion is no surprise, reflecting the exponentially growing need for skills at all levels and across numerous sectors.

In joint third place are Apprenticeships and Colleges, the latter being the only new entry this year. Apprenticeships has made every annual list except two, with this its third time in the top three, having been top in 2014. However the spotlight shone more brightly than usual on the college sector in 2023. Its contribution to the economy was highlighted, as was the key role of colleges in tackling skills shortages. Meanwhile, risks to the sector’s financial sustainability had increased since 2022, and the cost of living crisis – and Covid-19 – continued to put pressure on institutions, students and staff.

Skills shortages & gaps is the only other topic to appear for the tenth time, having only missed the list in 2019. In 2023 the main shortages and gaps were once again in green skills/skills for energy transition, digital and cybersecurity, engineering and social care, plus people management and skilled trades.

Among the topics that appeared on a cover for the first time was ‘Behaviour & attendance in schools’ – expect to see this on the list for 2024.

The only surprise omission was ‘Recruitment, vacancies & workforce shortages’. Despite sharing top spot last year and being predicted for a return appearance, it didn’t even make one cover.

What other topics are expected to be ‘hot’ this year? ‘Energy transition & green skills & jobs’ is likely to be back. Also expect to see the return of ‘School education reforms’ and ‘Qualifications…’, as consultations and debates continue about the major changes planned. The proposed ‘Centre of Teaching Excellence’ is likely to feature, as is the fallout from the recent PISA results, and plans for ‘Tertiary education’ as a whole, as opposed to further, higher and other aspects of post-school education.

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