Symposium 2018

Skills 4.0: Work-based learning for #AHumanFuture

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Skills 4.0: Work-based Learning for #AHumanFuture


On 6th November 2018, the Centre for Work-based Learning hosted its annual international symposium.

Now in its 5th year, the symposium series was created by Skills Development Scotland (SDS) with the aim of influencing the thinking around work-based learning in Scotland.

Last year's international symposium brought together over 100 national and international thought leaders, directors and senior managers to discuss the future of the world of work and to consider what that means for employees and businesses.


You can read more about last year’s event in our Symposium 2017: summary or watch our short highlights video to find out the key takeaways from 2017.


Skills 4.0 recognises that the world of work is changing and to thrive in this new and fast-paced environment, businesses need resilient employees equipped with the right skills and knowledge.

This year’s symposium built upon the outcomes from last year and questioned, "How do we best equip people with these skills?" Embedding these skills within work-based learning programmes is an ideal way to develop them.

The event brought together experts from the worlds of business, policy making and education to:

  • look at how we develop these skills for the future in ourselves and our people
  • discuss how we promote inclusive and sustainable growth in Scotland’s economy
  • consider how Scotland’s skills system can best respond
  • network on a national and international scale

The programme featured presentations, discussion and debate, and an interactive live-stream which allowed viewers to engage with the speakers and submit questions throughout.


David Brown

Head of Government and Public Sector, PwC


David leads the Government and Public Sector business at PwC. Over a 20 year period he has worked across all areas of the public sector and has led a number of high profile programmes and reviews. 

David also co-chairs the Scottish National Centre for Universities and Business Growing Value in Scotland Task-Force. Within this role he is heavily involved in how we increase innovation and collaboration in the Scottish economy, with an emphasis on the use of technology. 

David will Chair our event bringing a wealth of experience to encourage debate and discussion.

Maureen Douglas

Human Resource Director, Forster Group


Maureen is Human Resource Director at Forster Group where she is responsible for people, safety and systems. Her day job is focused on activities that continually develop the business and support industry. 

When not in the office or on construction sites, Maureen is actively working on a number of projects with government, education, industry and employers to tackle the construction industry's greatest challenge… to attract, employ and train a workforce that reflects society. 

Maureen will demonstrate the exciting work being undertaken at Forster, including their experience to date of putting meta skills into action.

Dr. Thomas Bolli

Postdoctoral Researcher, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH)


Thomas is a postdoctoral researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich. 

His research interests consist of the statistical analysis of knowledge, in particular applying microeconometrics to questions regarding the economics of education, research, and innovation. 

Thomas will use international examples of research undertaken on the cost of apprenticeships and the return in wages and productivity.

Erin Coffman

Data Scientist, Airbnb


Erin joined Airbnb in 2011 and is the company’s longest serving data scientist. She has led data science and analytics initiatives across the company, including work with Customer Experience, Legal, Communications, Public Policy, and Social Impact. 

In 2016, she co-founded Data University, a company-wide data training program, of which over a quarter of the company has participated. 

Erin will utilise her experience of co-founding Data University and establishing a company-wide data training programme to discuss the development of skills.

Shelagh Green

Director for Careers and Employability, University of Edinburgh


Shelagh is Director for Careers and Employability at the University of Edinburgh. Her department work with three key stakeholder groups - students, employers and academic units - to empower students to make successful transitions to life beyond the University.  

From 2016-18 Shelagh was President of the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services, a charitable membership organisation which represents over 95% of HE Careers Services, providing CPD, a lobbying voice and sharing expertise and best practice. 

Shelagh will demonstrate the work being undertaken at the University of Edinburgh, including their experience to date of putting meta skills into action.

Olly Newton

Director of Policy and Research, Edge Foundation


Olly is Director of Policy and Research at the Edge Foundation, a charity which leads on developing and promoting education models to prepare young people for the Twenty-First Century.  

He gathers together the facts, figures, research and evidence to share with policy makers, practitioners and the media. Olly is the lead author of Edge’s research and policy reports. 

Olly will discuss a skills model for the future and why these skills are important.

Robin Goldberg

Chief Experience Officer, Minerva Schools


Robin Goldberg is Chief Experience Officer at Minerva Schools, leading on all aspects of the student experience. She is responsible for driving global student outreach, student life, city immersion, experiential learning, and the lifelong professional development and support of students.  

Based in San Francisco, Robin and her team work to ensure that students are placed in internships and jobs, which includes working directly with employers to ensure students are ready to contribute when they start work. 

Robin will build upon her appearance at our 2017 event by discussing the development of skills from a university perspective. 

Graham Hutcheon

Managing Director Group Operations, Edrington


Graham is Managing Director Group Operations for the distiller, Edrington. He joined Edrington in 2000 as director of distillation and was appointed group operations director in 2003 and is President of Brugal.  Graham is a member of The Scotch Whisky Association, chairing the environment committee, and is director of both The Scotch Whisky Research Institute and the North British Distillery. Graham was appointed as chairman of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) Scotland in 2017. 

Martin Boyle

Head of Creative Industries, Hospitality and Sport, SQA


Martin is Head of Creative Industries, Hospitality and Sport at the SQA. He is strategic lead on the current ‘HN Next Gen’ project, redesigning Scotland’s HNC/D qualifications. Prior to joining the SQA, Martin was Head of Creative Industries at Forth Valley College, and has also worked at Cardonald College Glasgow. His background is in journalism and writing, and prior to moving into education he worked as a journalist and editor in print, radio and online. He is currently working on Masters-level study at Cambridge University, focusing on the assessment and validity of ‘21st century learning skills’.

Damien Yeates

Chief Executive Officer, Skills Development Scotland


Damien is Chief Executive of Skills Development Scotland. An advocate for work-based learning, Damien is committed to forging strong relationships between education and industry, ensuring support for employers to get the skills they need and individuals to progress in the workplace. He has strengthened links between employer demand for, and the supply of, skilled individuals, including development of Skills Investment Plans for key growth sectors and regional skills assessments. Recognising the value of apprenticeships to employers, individuals and the economy, SDS currently delivers more that 25,000 new Modern Apprenticeships annually. 


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