Spend levy on skills says FSB

FSB demands ‘CodeClan academies’ across industry

Andy WilloxRevenue from the UK Government’s apprenticeship levy should be spent on vocational skills academies in Scotland, says the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

It has called for the CodeClan academy, which was set up last year to run crash courses in software engineering, to be replicated across other sectors.

The FSB says this would address skills shortages and give fresh options to those unsuited to long college or university courses.

The Scottish Government will receive about £100 million of the £3 billion to be raised annually by the levy.

In a submission made to SNP Ministers today, the FSB urges ministers to use some of this funding to honour their manifesto commitment to look at expanding skills academies.

Andy Willox (pictured), the FSB’s Scottish policy convenor, said: “Skills shortages still present a real problem for smaller firms who can find key specialist staff poached by larger competitors. The academy model offers new options for both employers and those looking to develop vocational skills.

“These institutions would reach agreement with employers about the skills they need and, in turn, guarantee opportunities for a proportion of the intake.”

Last October Deputy First Minister John Swinney launched CodeClan – Scotland’s first skills academy which offers intensive 16-week software development courses, accredited by the Scottish Qualifications Authority.

CodeClan is designed to offer re-training, mainly in writing computer code, and aims to plug a skills shortage.

In its response to ministers, the FSB suggests that CodeClan could accelerate their expansion plans and the industry-led model could be applied to other industries such as energy, brewing, data-science or specialist engineering. 

Mr Willox continued: “With a little bit of imagination and co-operation between industry and education I’ve no doubt we can make the vocational academy model work on a larger scale.”


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