Scotland’s new National Qualifications are preparing young people for the workplace

SQA Full colour RGB SQA’s new National Qualifications are now being taught in schools and colleges across Scotland and will soon replace the existing National Qualifications you may already be familiar with. The table shows what to look out for on CVs and application forms:


SCQF level Previous/Existing National Qualifications Grades New National Qualifications Grades
7 Advanced Higher A to D > Advanced Higher A to D
6 Higher A to D > Higher A to D
5 Intermediate 2 A to D > National 5 A to D
Standard Grade (Credit level) 1 or 2 >
4 Intermediate 1 A to D > National 4 Not graded
Standard Grade (General level) 3 or 4 >
3 Standard Grade (Foundation level) 5 or 6 > National 3 Not graded
Access 3 Not graded >
2 Access 2 Not graded > National 2 Not graded
1 Access 1 Not graded > National 1 Not graded


The new qualifications have a greater focus on developing skills and ensuring that young people can use their skills beyond the classroom. Young people will develop practical skills like data collection, literacy, numeracy and team-working; Core Skills like communication, ICT and problem solving; and Skills for Learning, Life and Work such as employability, independent thinking, and enterprise and citizenship. Employers can look forward to recruiting young people who have developed the knowledge, skills and experience needed for the modern workplace.

New subjects have also been introduced, such as Lifeskills Mathematics, which focuses on finance, statistics, data management, measurement and geometry and is set at the same level of difficulty as traditional Mathematics Courses.
For more information, visit

FSB Scotland Quarterly Confidence Index

On Dec 15 the FSB published our final quarterly Voice of Small Business Confidence Index for 2014.  The Scottish results are set out here and an infographic highlighting the key findings is available here.

As in Q3, the results are mixed.  While we are still in positive territory, Scottish confidence has fallen for the second quarter in a row and is now lower than at this point last year:

q4 2014

Other key findings include that, although revenues are down, reduced costs (e.g. fuel costs) mean than profits are up.  Also encouraging is that the balance of firms planning to increase capital investment in the twelve months ahead has risen for the first time this year.

Thus, while small firms appear to be facing a tough immediate future, the long-term picture may be brighter.

Skills Development Scotland update

As part of our ongoing support for businesses, employer bodies and training providers, we’ve made some enhancements to Our Skillsforce.

Since the successful launch of Our Skillsforce in October 2012, Skills Development Scotland with key partners and stakeholders has continued to promote the new service and highlight the benefits it brings to businesses across Scotland, helping to build a more productive and skilled workforce.

Based on feedback from businesses and partners we are making a number of enhancements to ensure the service is better focused on the needs of businesses.

For the very first time, employers will find tailored Modern Apprenticeship (MA) information with one click of a button, thanks to enhancements on Our Skillsforce.

The new dedicated MA section has clear navigation to relevant information.

In addition, visitors will be able to access MA jobs and course information, details of training providers and a ‘types of apprenticeships’ search allowing users to explore all 65 MA frameworks.

These enhancements further reinforce the strong local and national partnerships that support and complement the effective delivery of services to businesses in your area.

The MA information is also being tailored for individuals and will be available on Skills Development Scotland’s website My World of Work.

The updates to the sites will go live during the course of Monday April 22. To visit the sites, simply click on the following links:

SDS will continue to work with key partners and stakeholders over the next few months to further develop Our Skillsforce to meet business needs.

Scottish qualifications are changing

The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA), Scotland’s national awarding body, develops qualifications which are open to everyone, from students in schools and colleges to trainees, apprentices, those currently out of work and people who are already employed.

You may have heard about Curriculum for Excellence, the new approach to learning in schools and colleges which will develop young people’s skills for the 21st century.

SQA has developed new National Qualifications to support Curriculum for Excellence (CfE).  These new qualifications will be available in schools and colleges across Scotland from August 2013. They will help young people reach their full potential as they progress from their broad, general education through to college, university, other learning, training and employment.

The current qualifications at Access 1, Access 2 and Access 3, Standard Grades at Foundation, General and Credit levels, and Intermediate 1 and Intermediate 2 will be replaced by the new National 1, National 2, National 3, National 4 and National 5.

Current Higher and Advanced Higher qualifications will be replaced by new versions of these courses which will have similar structures to the new Nationals, and will retain the same levels of rigour and challenge as their predecessors.

The first learners to leave school or college with the new National 1, National 2, National 3, National 4 and/or National 5 will do so in June 2014.

Learners leaving with the new Highers and Advanced Highers will do so in June 2015 and June 2016 respectively.

Our CfE Liaison Manager for Fife, Kelly Milford, has been working closely with schools and colleges in the region and is also available to meet with employers to give them an overview of the new qualifications and explain what the changes mean for local businesses.   Get in touch with Kelly at

For more information on SQA and the new National Qualifications, visit

Update on Forth Replacement Crossing

We attended an update on the progress of the Forth Replacement Crossing project on Friday 16th March.

Blasting starts soon on the foundations. However, we will not see a lot of anything rising out of the water for some time. Over the next 18 months, they are working on the foundations and then they will start on the bridge towers. It is an enormous project but at this stage it is on time and on budget. Whether it stays on time will largely depend on the weather.

Regarding the roads, the work on the Intelligent Transport System on the M90 in Fife will be completed this summer and the upgrade of the M9 Kirkliston junction hopes to be completed by the end of this year, which would make it early.

Transport Scotland confirmed that 74% of the workforce live in Scotland. There are 1500 targeted recruitment and training opportunities so far  on the Forth Crossing over the 6 years of the project. The community benefit clause means it will deliver an annual average of 45 vocational training positions, 21 professional body training places and 46 positions for the long term unemployed, as well as providing further scope to maximise Modern Apprenticeship opportunities every year.

222 Scottish firms will be working working on the project, and 870 out of 1,041 supply orders awarded on the principal contract have gone to Scottish companies: 84 per cent of the total.

We would like to hear from you if you are a Fife business that bid for a contract. Were you successful or not and what was your view of the tendering process? Was it straight forward or too complicated? If you were successful, how is your business managing? If you were unsuccessful, did you get sufficient feedback to allow you to improve your tender process next time?


Access to Justice

Have you had occasion to use the small claims court to chase some bad debt or indeed been put off using the small claims court because of potential costs or complications.  The current system is Scotland would, in many cases, appear to be anything but friendly to the small business owner to help them recover bad debt.  FSB is currently looking into this with the Scottish Government and would really like to hear member experiences.   Can you help FSB to help other small businesses with Access to Justice?

Changes to Employers Liability Insurance

Most employers need to purchase Employers Liability (EL) insurance in order to trade legally. EL insurance enables employers to meet the cost of compensation should an employee suffer illness or injury related to the work they do.

Insurance companies are subject to regulation by the Financial Services Authority (FSA). New rules have been introduced by the FSA that require insurers and brokers to collect additional information from their clients. This information can be used by employees to help trace their former employer’s EL insurer should they need to make a claim for illness or injury at work.

Read more of this post

Election Special

What matters to you and your business that you want Fife Council to do something about – tell us here

Parking Charges in Fife

Are parking charges an issue in Fife for businesses?.  FSB are keen to hear from members if you consider parking charges to have had an effect on your business.  You might also like to put yourself into user mode as well and let us know if Fife Council charges are reasonable or prohibitive.  Please post your thoughts below and we will collate them.

The High Street

With all the recent furore and press coverage via the Mary Portas report about the state of the nation’s High Streets, we thought it was time to ask our members in Fife for your opinions on the High Streets.  FSB is campaigning for mixed use of the High Streets – away from the traditional retail outlets with a few professional offices mixed in – to start incorporating small light manufacturing units, housing, leisure…….what do you think would be an asset to Fife’s High Streets. Post your thoughts and suggestions here