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Proskills embarks on UK-wide consultation

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The sector skills council Proskills has embarked on a UK-wide consultation with employers to help shape the future of the area it represents: paint & coatings, extractives, glass, building products and printing.

Information it gathers on skills provision and funding will form the basis of the Sector Skills Agreement (SSA), the collaborative action plan formed between employers, the government and the education sector.

Proskills CEO Terry Watts said: “Appropriate training provision is vital if UK industry is to thrive and survive in today’s fiercely competitive global market.

“According to productivity figures, UK manufacturing ranks only 11th out of 16 competitor nations, and much of the problem lies in our lack of skills. If the UK were as productive as the best in Europe then we could add £80 billion to our nation’s wealth each year.

“This major consultation is not a vendor-led initiative to promote training for its own sake. Nor is it a single-issue initiative to address a specific problem such as encouraging more young people into our sector – although that is of course a worthy aim.

“The objective of the SSA is to generate measurable improvements in productivity by developing and maintaining skills in our sector. However, for the initiative to succeed it requires support from everyone involved, particularly employers, managers and professionals who really understand the needs of the industry.”

The SSA is made up of five stages and the aim is to complete them all by September 2007.

Work is already underway on stages one and two – the assessment of needs and provision, which includes an employer survey of 2000 telephone and web-based interviews, with an additional 500 in-depth interviews and discussions with key employers.

Focus groups and workshops addressing specific industry groups will develop a range of possible future scenarios and elicit key future issues and drivers from business leaders.

Initial findings from this stage will be reported and will be used to create the detailed interviews and discussion topics of the focus groups. A postal survey of 150 training course-providers will also be undertaken, supported by 60 in-depth telephone interviews with key training provider managers. Reports on both these activities are expected to be delivered in September, 2006.

Stage three of the SSA process will analyse the gaps and weaknesses in training provision which have become apparent as a result of the responses to the survey. Critical areas will be identified and a report on strategic priorities will be delivered by the end of October, 2006.

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