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Fronting up to skills utilisation: what can we learn from Scotland's skills utilisation projects?

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Policy makers in many countries have long insisted that skills are critical to economic performance and social cohesion/inclusion. However, it is increasingly recognised that if skills are to fully deliver on this agenda, they have to be used effectively inside the workplace. While such statements can now be observed in the skills strategies of England, Scotland and Wales, much less is understood about how to design effective interventions in this new and challenging area of policy. Of particular interest then are the 12 ‘action research’ projects currently being funded by the Scottish Funding Council, which are aimed at testing the role that universities and colleges might potentially play in improving skills utilisation. Drawing upon interviews with project managers, employers and employees involved in three of the projects as well as with key Scottish policy makers, the article examines progress to date. It finds some initial evidence for establishing proof of concept and highlights challenges in terms of capacity building and sustainability. Drawing parallels with Scandinavian workplace development programmes, the article argues that the programme can potentially contribute to a broader approach to business improvement and innovation policy in Scotland, with universities and colleges more closely engaged as a key strategic partner.
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Keywords: Scotland; policy; skills utilisation; workplace development

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: ESRC Centre on Skills, Knowledge and Organisational Performance, School of Social Sciences,Cardiff University, Glamorgan Building, King Edward VII AvenueCardiff,CF10 3WT, UK

Publication date: September 1, 2012

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