Garry Cameron, Delivery Lead, College Development Network (CDN) reflects on the Skills Demand in 2016 and beyond.

Every day we listen to the radio, go online, read a newspaper or tune into television we learn something more about the skills shortages opening up across the Scottish economy. Last week BBC Scotland reported the biggest shortages for permanent jobs are in hotel and catering and for temporary roles the biggest shortages are in care work and the health service. It is not just traditional manufacturing and engineering jobs that need to be filled. Another recurring theme is that UK businesses are facing candidate shortages in nearly every sector of the economy. Through globalisation of markets, dramatic technological and social changes, digital and entrepreneurial skills and it is easy to become a prophet of doom. Then we hear ‘experts’ tell us that we do not know what the jobs of the future will be for the workforce. Confused? Reassured? Perplexed? Optimistic?

Putting a positive spin on all of the above it is possible to argue that there has never been a more exciting time to be alive and living in the United Kingdom. Indeed in this digital and STEM age the opportunities for employment are a cause for optimism. Consider the potential in the following areas:

  • Robotics
  • Biotechnology
  • Nanotechnology
  • Quantum computing
  • Textiles
  • Food manufacture
  • Pharming – yes that is with a ‘ph’
  • Gamification
  • Viral marketing
  • The internet of things.

As a sector, colleges in Scotland have a real opportunity to respond to the skills demand we hear about in the media. Colleges do provide the ‘can do, get up and go and give it a go’ attitudes required for the 2 million jobs 2016-20. How? It has to be the vehicle called the curriculum. A curriculum that develops qualifications but also develops in students social intelligence and creativity and appropriate personal attributes and skills employers are looking for.

So the big question is: How can the college curriculum adapt to meet what the media bombard us with about jobs of the future and the so called digital and entrepreneurial revolutions? I would suggest the features and principles of Curriculum for Excellence and the 4 capacities. Do you remember the 4 capacities? Looking forward to reading your ideas.

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