In its focus on improving economic outcomes, the review has been guided by the principles outlined in its remit:
- to make a step-change in enterprise and skills support to help progress towards our ambition of Scotland ranking among the top quartile of OECD countries in terms of productivity, equality, wellbeing and sustainability;
- to be driven by evidence, to listen to the views of users, and put forward proposals that respond to their needs; and
- to ensure a simpler and more coherent enterprise and skills support system.
We have engaged widely to understand stakeholder views and published a number of key pieces of evidence. These include:
- a high-level overview of current economic performance and the nature of the challenge;
- the findings of a public 'Call for Evidence' process that was undertaken from 15 July-15 August and generated 329 responses;
- reports on international enterprise and skills experience and practice commissioned from experts; and
- a report on outcomes from workshops with users of business and skills support.
The review has benefited from the input of the Ministerial Review Group. This Group comprises individuals with a wide range of expertise drawn from business, business organisations, colleges, universities, the National Union of Students, COSLA and the STUC. It has met regularly during the review and contributed considerably to our thinking.
In reaching our conclusions the following key themes have emerged:
- the degree of alignment between enterprise and skills support services, and how to measure impact;
- the optimal fit between national and local priorities;
- the need for a 'no wrong door' approach to simplify service and funding streams;
- how best to augment support for internationalisation in a changing context;
- how to improve our innovation performance; and
- how we improve skills provision and utilisation.
There is some overlap between these issues and the findings of Audit Scotland's report on 'Supporting Scotland's Economic Growth' (July 2016). In addition, we have taken into account Audit Scotland's 2016 work relating to Scotland's Colleges and to Higher Education in Scottish Universities, and Professor Graeme Reid's Review of the Innovation Centres Programme.
On 15 September we announced that we would take forward the review in two phases in response to the new economic context and in order to ensure that we fully capture the high levels of interest generated by the review so far. This report covers the findings of the first phase. It sets out our headline aims and the changes we believe are needed now to deliver on our economic growth and inclusion ambitions.