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Colleges as Enablers of Sustainable Economic Growth: Intensifying the effort: deepening and broadening the reach of the ERG Programme

Our latest report on the work of the Economic Recovery Group comes at a key point in the development of the model of regional economic strategies (RESs), with the Withers Review of the skills landscape and the Entrepreneurial Campus report drilling down into the role of our colleges in supporting the delivery of the National Strategy for Economic Transformation (NSET).

With that in mind, the report looks at how we can support our colleges in ‘intensifying the effort’ to collaborate across regions with key stakeholders and cement their role as anchor institutions within their regional economy.

“This is such a critical time for colleges to be truly at the centre of their regional economies, with widespread sectoral skills shortages threatening to put a brake on their recovery from the combined crises of Covid, Climate and Cost of Living. The ERG is proving to be a pivotal resource in supporting our college leaderships to develop that vital role.”

Joanna Campbell, Principal, Dumfries and Galloway College and Chair of the College Principals’ Group

The four case studies featured in the report show how the ERG approach has been developed around four distinct typologies: rural, polycentric, urban/rural and city region. In each case, the team worked with the board and senior management of the colleges on their engagement with the regional economic strategy within co-designed sessions that were responsive to the distinct characteristics of the ecosystem of each regional economy, and to generate practical approaches to collaboration to help meet its specific priorities and needs.

“I have always maintained that to ‘make learning work’ we needed to position our college at the heart of the Forth Valley’s regional economy. The ERG programme has enabled all our colleges, and partners alike, to recognise and value that role in the engine room of a skills led recovery.”

Professor Ken Thomson, Interim Chair, CDN and former Principal, Forth Valley College

As the improvement agency for colleges in Scotland, CDN will now be working with ERG to develop the approach outlined in the report into an enhancement offer for colleges and their regional partners that will be available as part of our suite of practice development programmes from 2024 onwards.

In parallel, ERG will be expanding their circle of partnerships to explore where the wider themes in the report can be taken as part of the ongoing economic and skills developments in the sector and beyond.

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