Flexible upskilling opportunities need to be at the heart of Scotland’s economic recovery as we face changing skills needs in the coming decade. Factors like automation and other technological change had already put forth an urgent case for strengthening the skills system, but with the ongoing pandemic accelerating the pace of change, this has now become an even more pressing priority. The CIPD’s Skills to grow: The case for enhanced ILAs in Scotland report proposes enhanced individual learning accounts (ILAs) to be established and sets out a series of recommendations for policymakers in Scotland and beyond.

The report draws on best practice internationally as well as the recent experience of similar schemes in Scotland. While the original aim of the report was to flesh out the contribution ILAs could make to meet the challenges posed by our evolving economic and skills needs, its recommendations now also offer a timely assessment of how enhanced ILAs can be used in Scotland’s COVID-19 recovery too.

Enhanced ILAs offer flexibility and individualisation that enables them to support learners throughout their working lives and through challenges on multiple fronts. This may be as a tool to support early-career progression, as an opportunity to learn to work with new technologies, or as a means of accessing retraining that can support a smooth transition from high- to low-carbon industries. The recommendations outlined in the report encompass built-in adaptability for the scheme to be targeted at areas of economic need, but also learner need where particular barriers to skills development exist. 

While not a silver bullet, enhanced ILAs as proposed here could make a meaningful contribution to meeting the challenges posed by the demands of technological change, Brexit, shifting demographics, and not least our post-pandemic recovery.  

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Skills to grow: the case for enhanced ILAs in Scotland

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