From education to employment

Employers invest in training to address skills gaps in workforce

Skills Minister Phil Hope announced last week that four sectors are set to join the expanding National Skills Academies network, which enables employers to make a real contribution to the curriculum, management and strategic direction of their staff training programmes.

There are concerns that despite the £33 billion spent by employers on training the workforce, with nearly 65% providing their own training, one in five organisations are still reporting skills gaps.

Academies from the sports and active leisure; retail; glass manufacture, coatings, print, and building products; and fashion and textiles sectors have successfully bid to become part of the network and will now go forward to the business planning stage.

Mr Hope, speaking at the launch of the Skills Pledge, said: “National Skills Academies are starting to transform vocational training sector by sector. They are giving employers a unique opportunity to shape curriculum and delivery in return for investing in academies”.

Employer sponsorship funds about 50% of the capital costs of an Academy, with 35% (£90 million), coming from the Government, and European funding making up the rest. The Learning and Skills Council (LSC) are delivering the programme in conjunction with employers such as Airbus, Norwich Union and Warburtons, and Sector Skills Councils.

“It is good news that four more organisations are now on their way to joining the growing network of operational National Skills Academies and those heading for completion of their business plans,” added Mr Hope.

So far, the construction, financial services, manufacturing, and food and drink manufacturing industries have their own Academies, while the nuclear, process industries, creative and cultural, and hospitality sectors are at the business planning stage, and Academies will become operational, if approved, later this year. The aim is to have up to 12 such Academies operational by 2008.

Chris Banks, Chairman of the LSC, said: “The National Skills Academy network helps to address the skills gaps England faces today and there has been an encouraging response from business towards the network.

“This unique collaboration between Government and industry ensures skills training is delivered in a way that best benefits businesses and really helps improve UK productivity,” he continued.

Annabel Hardy

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