SCOTTISH ENTERPRISE sponsored a "learning journey" to California this week as part of a major review of the agency's skills strategy aimed at "creating competitive advantage through learning".
It has set up a "learning industry development network" whose trip to the sunrise state was designed to unravel the secret of "how Scotland can place learning at the heart of economic progress".
Evelyn McCann, director of skills at Scottish Enterprise, said: "We have to find out more from other countries if we are to be at the cutting edge of the new learning and economic world."
The Scottish Enterprise party will pay homage to California where education is seen as a key player in recharging economic batteries. The group will look at successful lifelong learning activities, how companies translate ideas into practice, the way schools have been revitalised, information management and the relationship between private and public sectors.
The 15-strong team included Wendy Alexander, policy adviser to the Scottish Secretary, and representatives from FE, business, the unions and education authorities.
Mrs McCann said: "The danger in Scotland is that, if we are not more proactive, the agenda might be taken away from us and that is an issue for economic development as well as for education and training."
In California, individuals are prepared to put as much as a fifth of their earnings into their own training, Mrs McCann said. The Scottish Enterprise view is that here the emphasis has also to switch to workplace training.