The development of specific vocational skills is important in all economies to ensure workforces are equipped to meet the needs of industry and business. However, in recent years, there has been an increasing emphasis on softer, transferable skills, which augment and support specific vocational skills and which ensure these skills can be exercised effectively.
Employability can be defined broadly as the skills, qualities and attitudes needed by individuals to enter work, maintain employment, and transfer or adapt to new employment situations. Enterprise skills ensure economies and societies have people who are innovative and creative in their ideas and solutions. Entrepreneurial skills are needed to encourage new business growth – particularly important to small and medium business sector.
The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) is the national awarding and accreditation body in Scotland. It develops and maintains a comprehensive portfolio of vocational and academic qualifications at all levels from beginners to doctorate level. SQA has a strong and consistent track record of work with employers, Sector Skills Councils and professional bodies to promote employability as well as developing qualifications that support enterprise and entrepreneurial skills.
SQA’s close partnership with employers and Sector Skills Councils ensures that it designs and develops qualifications that are fit-for-purpose and reflect the needs of the industries and sectors they support. SQA has a formal protocol with Sector Skills Councils to encourage partnership and there is direct involvement of employers, Sector Skills Councils and professional bodies in all aspects of qualification development and maintenance through representation on Qualification Design Teams, Validation Panels and Qualification Support Teams. SQA also works in partnership with colleges and training providers to develop closer links with local employers.
Opportunities for learners to develop employability, enterprise and entrepreneurship skills are provided by SQA in different ways. For example, these skills may be developed and assessed through qualifications specifically designed for this purpose. Such qualifications include employability, personal development and work experience Units, Courses and Group Awards. Other opportunities are provided by embedding work/placement experience and/or employability, enterprise and entrepreneurship skills within a wider qualification. To find out about qualifications that are available to support the development of these skills, please follow the links below.
Current curriculum reform in Scotland – Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) – provides an excellent opportunity for learners to develop employability, enterprise and entrepreneurship skills. Through Curriculum for Excellence, employability and Core Skills development will be integral to the new qualifications that SQA is developing to support the new curriculum. SQA has already made in-roads in this area through a number of new and existing qualifications. These include:
SQA also offers a full range of vocational qualifications that prepare people for the workplace and further study. These qualifications are available in a wide variety of vocational areas/subjects and at different SCQF levels that will suit the needs of employers and candidates. Qualifications include:
The UK Commission for Employment and Skills has identified Core Skills as being fundamental to the development of wider employability skills. Core Skills lie at the heart of SQA qualifications, and Core skills are either embedded or signposted in all SQA’s major qualifications using the Core Skills Framework. This framework covers five Core Skills – Communication, Numeracy, Information and Communication Technology, Problem Solving, and Working with Others – at SCQF levels 2 – 6. Core Skills are also offered as stand alone qualifications in the form of Core Skills Units.
For expanded information on employability, enterprise and employability, please visit www.sqa.org.uk/employability