The UK’s industry and trade sectors are set to benefit from a new investment from the government, which has drawn high praise from various stakeholders in the skills training and development sector.
The Education and Skills Secretary Ruth Kelly MP and Trade and Industry Secretary Alan Johnson revealed the new funding package aimed at four industry sectors – manufacturing, construction, food and drink, and financial services ““ who are all going to benefit from this development in an attempt to meet skills shortages that they have highlighted in their recruitment processes.
Involving employers in developing National Skills Academies was elaborated in the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) in their Skills White Paper in March. Employer engagement was one of the primary reasons for the success of the four bids from industry; indeed after the prospectus was published the DfES received some 23 applications of interest from various Sector Skills Councils (SSCs).
The Skills Academies Tackle Shortages
The NSAs will hope to tackle specific issues within the various industries, highlighted by the figures from the National Employer Skills Survey (NESS) that suggest that recruitment of skilled workers is one of the most challenging problems faced by industry and employers today. For instance, in the manufacturing sector, figures suggest this sector currently has around 48,000 vacancies, with 13,000 skill shortage vacancies.
Similar shortages are being experienced in the other three sectors to benefit from these National Skills Academies (NSAs). The construction industry, preparing for the Olympics in 2012, needs some 88,000 new entrants per year in craft, technical, professional and management roles, and the present NESS vacancy figures suggest there are 32,000 vacancies, 13,700 of which are skills shortage vacancies. The Food and Drink manufacturing sector has vacancies at about 8,600 of which 1,900 are skills shortage vacancies, with the Financial Services sector suffering from 25,000 vacancies of which 4,100 are skills shortage vacancies.
Trade and Industry Pointing out Benefits to Trade and Industry
Trade and Industry Secretary Alan Johnson added his voice to calling for better skills training, saying: “Industry needs people with the right skills to compete in the global market. We know from business leaders that manufacturing and construction are key areas where we need to work with the business to help more people get the training needed to meet current and future skills demand.
“Today we are creating a Manufacturing Academy that creates a single point of access and focus for the delivery of globally competitive skills for UK manufacturing,” he went on. “The Construction Skills academy will help local people into construction and ensure they develop the skills needed to participate in a huge range of exciting projects, including the Olympics and Paralympics 2012, both of which are a great opportunity for the UK to showcase our exciting and innovative construction industry.”
LSC and SSDA Stand Behind Development
The Learning and Skills Council (LSC) support this initiative. David Way, Director of Skills at the LSC, said: “National Skills Academies are a direct response to employers and their needs. They have put employers in the driving seat in developing high-quality and relevant training programmes for their own sector and the commitment of so many top employers has been impressive.”
He continued: “This will help the further transformation of the further education sector so that it meets the needs of business more effectively. I am particularly pleased to see that all of the Academies build on the excellence that already exists in Centres of Vocational Excellence and in colleges and training providers. I am looking forward to seeing the Academies established and helping many thousands more young people and adults to improve their skills and achieve their full potential.”
Mark Fisher, Chief Executive of the Sector Skills Development Agency (SSDA), added his voice to the approval, saying: “I am delighted that the first of the National Skills Academies are now progressing. They will be real exemplars of how employers, working with the public sector, can get training support that directly meets their needs. I am also delighted that Sector Skills Councils are playing a central role in this initiative. At the SSDA we will continue to work with the UK-wide network of Sector Skills Councils to promote such practical employer led initiatives.”
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