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Divergent skills policy trajectories in England and Scotland after Leitch

Payne, Jonathan 2009. Divergent skills policy trajectories in England and Scotland after Leitch. Policy Studies 30 (5) , pp. 473-494. 10.1080/01442870902899996

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The UK Labour government has consistently argued that boosting the supply of skilled, qualified labour is ‘the key’ to national economic success and social justice, a position recently endorsed by the Leitch Review of Skills. However, while the argument that skills have an important role to play is widely accepted, Leitch's assertion that ‘skills are the most important lever’ remains contentious. Political devolution means that while the UK government retains control over skills policy in England, this is not the case in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland where education and training is a matter for their respective parliaments and assemblies. Indeed, there are interesting differences of approach emerging in terms of how the ‘skills problem’ is understood and the forms of policy interventions that are needed. While English policy-makers have embraced the Leitch agenda and are focused narrowly on boosting skills supply and matching overseas levels of qualification stocks, their Scottish counterparts are stressing the need for skills to be utilised effectively at work and are seeking to integrate skills policy within a wider business improvement, innovation and economic development agenda. This article examines these contrasting approaches, together with the main challenges they confront. It argues that there is an opportunity for Scotland to lead the way in developing a more integrative approach to skills policy that addresses key issues of skill demand and usage. However, translating this new policy position into practical policy interventions will require a process of policy learning. In the longer term, there is the potential for Scotland's approach to challenge the assumptions upon which English policy is based.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: ESRC Centre on Skills, Knowledge and Organisational Performance (SKOPE)
Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Uncontrolled Keywords: devolution; England; Scotland; skills policy; skills utilisation
Additional Information: Research group: SKOPE Research theme: Work Education and Globalisation
Publisher: Routledge
ISSN: 0144-2872
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2016 22:40

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