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Home > News > April 2007 > 23 April 2007

Government departments make pledge to raise skills

Leaders across central government have made a commitment that every eligible employee will be helped to gain basic skills and a level two qualification.

The commitment covers over 475,000 people in nineteen government departments.

Permanent secretaries from thirteen of the departments joined Sir Gus O'Donnell, cabinet secretary and head of the Civil Service, at a signing ceremony organised by Government Skills, the sector skills council for central government.

Sir Richard Mottram, chairman of Government Skills, said: "I am delighted that these departments which together employ over ninety per cent of those working for central government, and one and a half per cent of the entire UK workforce, have specifically committed to raise the skills and qualifications of their employees. This clearly signals the determination of the civil service to meet the skills challenge highlighted in the Leitch report on skills.

"Not everyone realises the range of roles carried out by civil servants - the vast majority of our staff are based up and down the country delivering services to the public. Our skills challenges are very similar to those facing the wider economy.

"There remains much work for us all to do in developing our action plans to implement the pledge, but today's event provides a useful opportunity for us not only to set an example to other employers, but also to demonstrate clearly to our own staff the importance we attach to skills development now and in the future."

To help ensure progress against the pledge can be monitored effectively, Government Skills has commissioned a skills survey across the entire sector.

Andrew McDonald, chief executive of Government Skills, said: "This survey will give us a very detailed picture of the current skills of employees which we can share with employers - and training providers - to enable us to plan more effectively the learning and development activity required both now and for the future. This is a vital part of our work to ensure employees within the public sector have the right skills to deliver effective public services."

Sir Digby Jones, the Treasury appointed skills tsar, said: "I make no apologies for calling loudly upon government to lead by example in this area and so I am delighted to see government taking up the skills challenge within its own workforce. These people do a vital job - they deal with our tax claims and pay our benefits and pensions as well as delivering advice and support to businesses, schools and families. I will follow the progress made with real interest."

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