Recognising Skills in Changing Times with SCQF

By Aileen Ponton, Chief Executive, SCQF Partnership

When the SCDI published its Upskilling Scotland report in January this year, the world was a very different place. We were focused on looking ahead to the 4th Industrial Revolution and to keeping up in terms of the skills required in a rapidly changing work environment.

In just a matter of months though that environment has changed beyond all recognition and whilst the world is still rapidly changing it is doing so in a very different way. COVID-19 has brought about an instant international economic downturn and whilst some may argue that the economy will bounce back quickly once countries start to emerge from lockdown restrictions, others are not so optimistic.

Whatever happens, it is clear that the world will be a very different place.

Reskilling, Upskilling and Adapting to Change

However, one thing that won’t change is the need to recognise and harness skills. This is a recurring theme throughout the Upskilling Scotland report and one that is key to developing successful and resilient teams particularly in difficult times, to changing direction through re-skilling and upskilling and  ensuring we can adapt quickly to optimise opportunities.

For instance, the move to online learning is highlighted in the report as a major factor in skills development and is now moving much more quickly than we could have predicted, meaning that all of us need to think about what adaptations are required in terms of learning styles and assessment.

Whilst this rapid progress is vitally important it is also equally important that the quality of that learning is ensured too and having learning programmes recognised on the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) is a widely respected way of doing this offering a robust quality assurance process which in turn promotes learner confidence. There are more than 11,000 programmes on the SCQF and the SCQF Partnership offers support around the recognition process in the form of free advice and workshops.

Recognition of Prior Learning

The SCQF Partnership has for some time also been championing the process of recognising prior learning and the benefits of this to both individuals, employers and the Scottish economy.

The main aim of Recognition of Prior Learning (or RPL) is that individuals should be able to progress in their learning without having to repeat it unnecessarily which is time consuming and expensive for everyone concerned whether that be the individual, an employer or the economy generally.

RPL has been around for a while now and has been adopted primarily by Higher Education Institutions which support their admissions policy by using RPL to allow individuals to enter higher education at the beginning of a course or in its first or second year using credit from previous learning and experience.

However, a number of key sectors are now developing their own guidelines and requirements to ensure the skills of their employees are effectively recognised and further developed in order to help them move on in their careers.

This was fully recognised in the Upskilling Scotland report and it was clear that ours was not the only voice asking Scottish Government to give greater emphasis to institutions and employers actively using and promoting RPL and the need for more flexibility around the range of skills and learning that they recognise.

Accessible to All

RPL is particularly important for certain priority groups such as veterans leaving the armed forces as well as refugees and asylum seekers and the SCQFP has been working in partnership with other organisations through specific projects to support these individuals.

However, we believe strongly that RPL should be accessible to everyone in Scotland regardless of age or circumstance and with more support for RPL through reports such as Upskilling Scotland we can make this a reality.

For more information on the SCQF, and the resources available for skills recognition, go to www.scqf.org.uk.

You can read more about ‘Upskilling Scotland’, the report of SCDI’s Skills & Employability Leadership Group, here.