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News - 13 April 2003

New Skills Training Agency Agenda to be Business-Led

A new Sector Skills Development Agency, committed to improving workforce skills has awarded the first two, five year licences to employer led Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) covering the areas of IT and Telecoms & Call Centres. This new stab at cracking the workforce skills deficiencies that are holding back UK productivity will not be without its problems.

Some 25 SSCs covering most sectors of the economy will be in place by the end of next year and they are expected to help bridge the 30% gap between UK and US & European levels of productivity. The SSCs accept that, in the past training has been dictated too much by the providers and not employer's needs. By allowing employers to set the agenda the agency hopes that it will overcome another long-standing problem - the reluctance of employers to participate even when suitable training exists.

However, stimulating the smaller business sector will undoubtedly continue to be a problem because typically they are both time and cash poor and the agency has highlighted this as a particular problem that needs to be addressed. The SSCs are intended to be strategic bodies and so are unlikely to have a hands-on involvement in the solutions to the many problems associated with workforce based skills training which means their success rests on the quality of delivery agencies and willingness of employers to participate. The Government has devoted over £25m to this initiative but it seems like a paltry sum of money compared to the scale of the problem.

For more information about the SSCs click on the link below. Also see KnowldegeBase for story on Employer Training Pilots : www.ssda.org.uk


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