Political events in Scotland have become extremely interesting. A minority SNP administration is moving cautiously forward trying to avoid contentious issues where the other parties can combine and defeat the Government.

The publication of the Government’s Lifelong Skills Strategy was an issue where the administration would have felt on firm ground. I am sure that much of the strategy will remain intact.

Key issues covered by the strategy include: the recognition that work-based learning is central to raising skills; measures to ensure parity of esteem between academic and vocational learning; a demand that Sector Skills Councils do more to establish a strong basis for their work in Scotland; and, most importantly, the commitment to extend Modern Apprenticeships to encompass SVQ level 2.

All good stuff, but the critical unanswered question remains funding, particularly in the ’Cinderella’ area of raising skills for older workers.

There is a long way to go to catch up with our nearest neighbour. In England bakers can receive substantial support from Learning and Skills Councils under Business Link programmes, such as: up to 100% funding of older workers with less than 5 GCSEs registering for NVQ level 2; employers receiving up to 50% funding for technical courses; and wages support for small companies sending workers away for training.

Over to you Mr Salmond!