Supplementary evidence from the Department
for Education and Skills
Ways in which Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) are
working with DfES, HEFCE and the universities to ensure that employer
demand for specific skills is met through the educational system
1. Through SSCs, employers will contribute
to identifying the specialist and generic skills required to meet
their current and future business needs particularly those which
will improve business performance, productivity and competitiveness.
The key mechanism will be Sector Skills Agreements. The agreements
will provide the framework for SSCs to work with employers in
their sectors, with key agencies like HEFCE and with Government
to address priority skills issues.
2. Four SSCs are currently developing the
first agreements. Two of these have a particular focus on SET:
SEMTA (science, engineering and manufacturing technologies) and
e-skills UK (focussing on the IT industry and IT users and IT
professionals). The other two are Skillset (currently looking
at broadcasting, film and inter-active media) and ConstructionSkills.
3. In preparing their agreements the four
SSCs have undertaken a thorough assessment of the sectors' needs,
covering the long-term, medium-term and short-term, mapping the
drivers of change in the sector five to 10 years ahead and determining
the implications for skill needs. They have also reviewed the
range, nature and employer relevance of current training and education
provision at all levels including in Higher Education (HE). Through
an analysis of the main gaps and weaknesses in workforce development
SSCs have identified the priorities they wish to address through
4. The four SSCs have now published draft
agreements and are in the process of consulting with key partners
such as HEFCE, UUK (Universities UK), QCA, the Learning and Skills
Council and with DfES. The agreements will be finalised by the
end of March 2005 and will contain a summary of the analysis and
identified priorities and an action plan encompassing the deals
and agreements that have been put in place between the SSC, their
employers and partner agencies to address the priorities.
5. HE has emerged as a priority for all
four SSCs with each identifying HE related proposals which they
wish to develop during the first year of their agreement. e-skills
UK, for example, have developed an new IT degree in a partnership
between universities and industry. It incorporates the technical,
project management, business and interpersonal skills required
for a range of IT professional careers. e-skills UK expect the
new degree to be offered in five universities from Autumn 2005.
6. SEMTA, through their analysis of current
and future skills needs have highlighted an increasing demand
for higher level skills (Levels 3, 4 and 5) for craft persons,
technicians and professional engineers over the next 10 years.
As part of the response to this need, SEMTA are developing a model
for a fast track Foundation Degree Apprenticeship and are discussing
with DfES funding support for piloting the model from autumn 2005.
7. In addition to specific proposals, the
four SSCs have identified through their agreements a number of
common themes where they wish to see action from Government and
funding bodies including: the need for closer cooperation between
HE institutions and employers in the design of courses to ensure
their relevance to industry; an improvement in the Information,
Advice and Guidance (IAG) services with a greater input from industry
via the SSCs; more flexible progression routes from 14-19 and
beyond; and a greater recognition and support for industry identified
priorities in funding decisions.
8. The DfES, HEFCE and other partner organisations
are working with the SSCs to agree how industry can engage more
fully in the design of courses, for example via HEFCE's HE Academy.
Similarly, discussions are continuing about how to support greater
SSC involvement in IAG and HEFCE have agreed that the Skills for
Business Network, which represents all SSCs, will have an opportunity
to respond collectively to the consultation paper due for publication
in April about the future funding regime for HE. In addition the
recently published White Paper "14-19 Education and Skills"
gives SSCs a key role in developing the new specialised diplomas,
with IT and engineering amongst the first four lines to be introduced