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Supporting and Upskilling Scotland

Diane CooperAuthor: 

Diane Cooper, Partnership Manager for The Open University in Scotland

Skilled people are vital in helping with economic recovery. The Open University in Scotland is committed to providing flexible online education to support and upskill people across the length and breadth of the country. 

We’re delighted to be launching a new video and webpage this week, sharing how the OU is supporting people in Scotland with skills development opportunities. 

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, our partnership and external engagement work was already significantly well-developed. It is now increasingly more important, as we all work towards a common goal of ensuring people have the necessary skills to live a happy and fulfilling life, which is the key element of my role that motivates me. 

Man using a laptop in a cafeAs a university founded on the idea of open entry to everyone, we welcome learners, regardless of age, income, qualifications or geography. Most of our students are eligible to study for free with a part-time fee grant

Recognising the importance and heightened demand for skills - in particular for those living with uncertainty over the security of their job - we have been extremely active in providing new opportunities to increase employability and enhance people’s skillset. This has ranged from short credit bearing microcredentials courses, to large-scale skills development programmes, many of which offer fully-funded places with support from the Scottish Funding Council. 

We support workers who are facing redundancy or furlough to gain skills for career and employment opportunities.

We provide a complete wrap-around support service, from a dedicated skills portal to online webinars, individual advice and access to our OpenLearn platform of free courses on Skills Development Scotland’s My World of Work site. 

We piloted a few targeted skills support initiatives earlier this year, for example, with Positive Action for Continuing Employment (PACE), offering fully-funded modules to those furloughed or unemployed to retrain in skills gap areas.  We were overwhelmed with the number of applications and I found it personally challenging reading through heartfelt personal statements describing the impact of redundancy, and how learning a new skill could ultimately provide a lifeline for some people. 

With a focus on skills gaps, in particular digital skills, we’ve provided upskilling programmes to study coding and cyber skills. It was not a surprise that we were inundated with applications which demonstrates the demand for people looking to upskill and enter this fast-growing sector. 

We recently launched a new coding skills training programme for people in Scotland who are unemployed or on low incomes.

Places on Coding Skills + by The Open University are fully-funded by Skills Development Scotland’s Digital Start Fund.  We are seeking employers who need coding skills within their workforce and who can guarantee an interview to students who complete this programme.  

Across all of our work, we are engaging with organisations who have a clear focus on increased employability. For example, training Department of Work and Pensions staff to share our skills development offerings with job seekers. We’re also supporting young people through a new job placement scheme. 

As the pandemic has accelerated the need to transition business online, I am enjoying working with our academics to provide bespoke development programmes for organisations to engage and provide their services online. We have supported colleges, local authorities and employability providers to engage and maintain business continuity online.
 
If you would like to find out more, please get in touch.

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