Partnership brings training to local communities

Issued by University of the Highlands and Islands

Public and voluntary sector workers in the Highlands and Islands can now attend procurement courses in their local area thanks to a new collaboration. Scotland Excel, the organisation which provides procurement training for Scotland’s local authorities and many public bodies, has teamed up with the University of the Highlands and Islands to broadcast its courses around the region.

The university has a high definition video conference network which it uses to deliver lectures to students around the Highlands and Islands through its partnership of thirteen colleges and research institutes. By joining forces with the university, Scotland Excel will be able to offer its courses in venues across the region, from Shetland in the North to Perth in the South and from Lewis in the West to Moray in the East.

The collaboration means public and voluntary sector workers will now have the option to take part in training sessions by video conference from their communities. Before, they had to travel to Inverness or the Central Belt to attend.

Advanced Procurement for Universities and Colleges (APUC), the procurement centre of expertise for Scotland’s universities and colleges, helped to set up the partnership.
Speaking about the development, Scotland Excel’s director Dorothy Cowie said: “I am delighted that our partnership will provide local access to all our courses delivered in Inverness via the University of Highlands and Islands’ video conferencing network. Organisations can benefit from the convenience of participating in courses locally, saving time and money associated with travelling whilst enhancing the procurement capability of their staff.”

Tim Skyrme, the university’s facilities manager, helped to set up the arrangement. He said: “Scotland Excel leads the way in learning and development across the public procurement sector. They have provided a comprehensive training programme for procurement practitioners for some time. However, attendance at many of the courses required practitioners from the Highlands and Islands to travel long distances. We therefore offered Scotland Excel the use of our extensive video-conferencing facilities to overcome this issue and the offer was enthusiastically accepted. Public sector procurement in Scotland is based on ‘collaboration’ and ‘sustainability’ and our work together demonstrates how we are putting these words into action.”

Ashley Gould, Highland Council’s head of procurement, said: “This initiative with the University of the Highlands and Islands could potentially increase north of Scotland procurement professionals’ access to continuous professional development considerably. We welcome the initiative as it will minimise our travel costs and emissions impacts relating to training normally only available hundreds of miles away. The initiative supports Highland Council’s pledge to dramatically reduce carbon emissions in Inverness and the Highlands and become Carbon CLEVER Highlands by 2025.”

Helen Mackenzie, head of procurement at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, said: “The Comhairle is committed to developing staff capabilities in relation to procurement and commissioning. The provision of training through the University of the Highlands and Islands will offer a convenient and affordable way for the Comhairle to provide this training.

“Online training allows flexibility, but also allows the Comhairle staff access to colleagues and experts who might otherwise not be available to them. Overall training costs will be cheaper due to the elimination of travel and subsistence fees and opportunities to attend training are also created for individuals who may otherwise be excluded due to time, geography, family commitments or mobility.”

The first of Scotland Excel’s courses to be broadcast across the Highlands and Islands are:

To register for any of these courses or find out about Scotland Excel visit

30 Aug 2013