From education to employment

Alan Johnson announces launch

The Government announced the launch of three National Skills Academies yesterday as part of its £90 million drive to raise the standard of industry training.

Secretary of State for Education and Skills, Alan Johnson, yesterday announced the launch of the academies in Financial Services, Construction, and Manufacturing, marking the start of a national network providing vocational education and training for school leavers and adults.

Speaking on the launch of the programme, Prime Minister Tony Blair said: “It is vital that we continue to improve skills right across the board and I am very pleased that we are able to launch the first three academies today.

“The new National Skills Academies are an exciting partnership between Government and industry to ensure we have the well-trained staff needed for the future”.

A statement released by the Department for Education and Skills yesterday details that currently, £33 billion is spent by employers on staff training and development, yet “investment is often unfocussed and despite this financial outlay, one in five organisations report skills gaps among their workforce”.

The National Skills Academy Network will function in different “models” particular to each industry; the government hopes that 12 academies will be fully operational by 2008, with the £90 million investment being delivered through the Learning and Skills Council working with employers and their Sector Skills Councils.

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“Models” of operation will include “linked networks of providers in Further and Higher Education, mobile delivery of training on work sites and e-learning materials for flexible learning”.

Chris Banks, Chair of the Learning and Skills Council said: “Ultimately, we envisage the network will train tens of thousands of learners each year with ambitions to have one for each sector of the economy in place by 2012. The benefits to employers are far reaching”.

“The National Skills Academy network will be another route to help ensure consistent high quality training across the country, resulting in a more highly trained and motivated workforce, with improvements to productivity and performance overall”.

And Mr Johnson noted: “Raising skills is essential to wealth creation and creating a society of opportunity for all. The National Skills Academy programme will improve our capacity for learning by driving up standards and specialisation with the learning sector. This will be good for individuals and employers alike and give all parties a real chance to address the skills gap and close it”.

Vijay Pattni.

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