This item was published during the term of a previous administration that ended in April 2007
Experience Counts for older workers
A new initiative which aims to help older workers develop and improve their employability skills was launched today.
Experience Counts - backed by £500,000 funding - has been set up in partnership with the Skills for Business Network in Scotland and recognises the increasingly significant role that people over 50 play in the country's workforce.
It will see older workers being offered courses in areas like communication, team working and customer care.
Deputy Enterprise and Lifelong Learning Minister Allan Wilson said:
"Scotland has an increasingly ageing population, so older people will form an increasingly large and important part of our workforce over the coming decades.
"There are currently more than 620,000 people aged 50 and over in employment in Scotland. This represents over a quarter of our total workforce. Research also shows that 70 per cent of the workforce in 2020 is already in employment today.
"As a result, we must encourage employers to engage more effectively with older workers and ensure that they are provided with the skills they need to continue to play a productive role in Scotland's economy.
"Through Experience Counts, older people will have access to training opportunities which give them greater confidence and better equip them to carry out their job. This might include courses in communication skills, customer care or problem solving.
"Older people can bring valuable experience and talent to the workplace. By tapping into this vital resource and addressing the skills needs of this important section of our workforce, we can help Scotland's economy to grow."
Gordon Kinnes (64), foreman for UPM Tilhill forestry company, Dunblane.
After many years working in the 'tractor seat' in the felling side of the industry, Gordon decided five years ago to train to become a surveyor and supervisor for powerline clearing.
With the support of his employer, he undertook stringent training and assessment for the required electrical industry certificates for powerline working.
Following the completion of current powerline works, he is now working as a general forestry works foreman, and hopes to learn new computing skills in the near future.
"I was a self-employed contractor for many years, and took a job with UPM around eight years ago.
"My employers have been very supportive in encouraging me to take part in training and learn new skills. The main benefit of this has been in improving my self-confidence to do my job.
"I would encourage other older workers to find out about the opportunities that are available to them."
Vaughan Hammond, District Manager for UPM Tilhill, and Gordon's employer, said:
"Gordon has a wealth of knowledge gained through many years of experience. To be able to train him on how to pass this on would be of tremendous benefit to Tilhill, and ensure that this knowledge is not lost to the industry.
"By providing opportunities to gain new skills, people like Gordon may see new avenues opened up for them."
Training courses will be provided by employer-led Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) in collaboration with further education colleges. The Skills for Business Network in Scotland is a network of Sector Skills Councils which are employer-led organisations set up to identify and tackle industry skills needs.
Three SSCs have taken part in a pilot phase of the programme: Lantra, which represents land-based industries; Skillsmart, which covers the retail sector and Skills for Logistics, which covers the freight logistic industries.
The Executive is making £500,000 available until 2007/08 for Experience Counts. Sector Skills Councils are invited to submit applications for this funding, and can get more information by calling 0141 242 0287.