Ian McNaught is Scotland Excel’s Strategic Organisational Development Manager and leads the Scotland Excel Academy.
Scotland’s public sector has faced the need to develop its workforce against a backdrop of tightening budgets for many years. So I’m extremely proud to share the approach of our Academy – a resource that brings learning to the sector in a way that ensures public bodies get immediate returns from investing in their staff.
Work-based learning has demonstrated proven results in the academic world for some time, so we wanted to tap into its potential to bring a new approach to learning and development to the public sector.
The Scotland Excel Academy is unique because it combines accredited, multi disciplinary learning with work-based learning to help strengthen and equip work forces in a way that gives organisations quick returns.
We’re proud of our award-winning model. It’s delivered by the public sector, for the public sector and since 2016 has benefitted 165 Scottish public-sector employees. Building upon engagement to date across 21 councils and 14 public-sector organisations we’re ready to roll it out more widely across the public sector.
In response to the sector’s needs, we offer three core disciplines: procurement, leadership & management and project management and we are fully partnered with the appropriate accrediting bodies.
We’re the only academy in Scotland offering this particular approach.
The Academy’s journey has been exciting. Because Scotland Excel is the country’s Centre of Procurement Expertise, the initial focus when we launched it in 2016 was to create a resource that would enhance and develop the public procurement community’s core skill set.
The partnership we have with the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) to deliver accredited courses was, and still is ahead of the curve. Adopting a strongly applied focus, each learner can apply new knowledge and skills to their work practice the next day, all underpinned with a blend of online discussions, taught workshops and applied projects.
We realised there was also a need for the procurement community to gain leadership and management and project management skills, so we expanded our offering.
This also saw our partnership with accrediting bodies grow to include Chartered Management Institute (CMI), Association of Project Managers (APM), and Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA).
Of course, you don’t have to work in procurement to take part in our programmes, with employees from a wide range of public sector organisations and professions all benefitting from learning with us. Many students can directly relate their participation in The Academy to promotion and new job opportunities. The programmes are a cost-effective way of ensuring staff develop the right skills from the start of their career, right up to senior level. The Academy supports multiple pathways, providing a depth of knowledge within a specific discipline and a breadth of knowledge across multiple disciplines. Such a portfolio supports career progression regardless of where a person is in their career cycle.
The public sector is being increasingly asked to do more with less, and when a public body invests in an employee’s learning and development, it wants to know that any new skills and theory gained can be applied straight away in the workplace to help drive outcomes and existing projects.
Our new, work-based learning programmes for Scotland’s public bodies include, Strategic Leadership, Leadership and Management, Management Coaching and Mentoring, Project Managements, CIPS Practitioner and Advanced Practitioner, and Business Analysis & Organisational Innovation. Courses are delivered at a range of levels from HND equivalent through to Masters.
Looking to the future, the public sector will continue to evolve and the challenges it faces will also change. Because we’re firmly embedded within Scotland’s public sector, we will work to ensure The Academy continues to be a strong resource that stays ahead of the curve.
For more information on how The Academy can help, contact
0141 618 7436