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Home > News > November 2003 > 26-Nov-2003

£46 million investment for skills network

UK employers are set to receive a £46 million skills boost, thanks to extra investment in Skills for Business - the UK-wide network of employer-led Sector Skills Councils, co-ordinated by the Sector Skills Development Agency.

Designed to ensure that each Sector Skills Council (SSC) is as effective as possible in articulating the employer voice in the demand for skills, the investment package, funded by the Sector Skills Development Agency and the Department for Education and Skills will mean up to an extra two million pounds will be available to each Sector Skills Council. The complete network of 23 fully-licensed Sector Skills Councils is expected to be established by next summer.

Margaret Salmon, Chair of the Sector Skills Development Agency said: "This is about fundamentally changing the way skills are demanded, delivered and developed throughout the UK. For a long time, employers have complained that their workforces don't have the skills they need to really deliver their business objectives. Now, through the Skills for Business network, employers can work together with others in their sector to really make a difference to the education and training system to ensure they have the skills their organisation needs to succeed."

SSCs are licensed by the government and replace the previous network of National Training Organisations which had recognition withdrawn on 31 March 2002. They are employer-led independent organisations which work in industrial sectors of strategic economic importance to reduce skills shortfalls and increase productivity in key areas.

The funding package for each SSC consists of:

  • An increase in core funding from £3 million to £4 million during the initial 3-year SSC contract
  • Up to £0.5 million per SSC to help them develop a Sector Skills Agreement
  • Up to £0.5 million per SSC as a ‘one off' sector investment package

The additional funding will be available to each Sector Skills Council as it receives its full five-year licence from Education and Skills Secretary Charles Clarke, with those SSCs already in receipt of licences (e-skills UK, SEMTA, CITB/ConstructionSkills and SkillsActive) expected to receive it first.

As at 18 November 2003 there were five ‘trailblazer' Sector Skills Councils, with two year licences, four fully-fledged Sector Skills Councils with five year licences and 14 SSCs in development. By mid-2004, a network of 23 fully licensed SSCs will cover around 85% of the UK workforce.

Speaking informally at the annual Skills for Business chairs' dinner at the Royal Horseguard's hotel in London last night, skills minister Ivan Lewis said: "Sector Skills Councils are at the heart of delivering the vision we outlined in our Skills Strategy White Paper this summer. I am very pleased that we have been able to demonstrate our commitment to the employer voice in the demand for skills by making additional resources available to the Skills for Business network."

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