Cross-border provision of public services for Wales: Further and higher education - Welsh Affairs Committee Contents

Memorandum submitted by the Alliance of Sector Skills Councils

  1.  This summary document accompanies written submissions from the Network of Sector Skills Councils. It does not seek to summarise individual submissions which stand on their own for discussion at the Committee. It seeks to provide a context for the Committee by highlighting the core contribution SSCs are increasingly making in this area.

  2.  The Sector Skills Councils have now established the Alliance of Sector Skills Councils to help them co-ordinate their voice and to support collaborative activities between the SSCs. The Alliance is continuing to support a forum in Wales and in each of the English regions, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

  3.  The SSCs understand that education and skills are devolved functions and recognise the need to work on a four nation basis. In fact, SSCs are the UK "glue" in the skills system. Large national companies wish to see consistency and transferability of skills across the UK, whilst smaller businesses need their specific needs met more locally. All demand quality and transparency in qualifications that are offered in both HE and FE. SSCs are the crucial interface between employers and the education providers.

  4.  Recognising its responsibilities in Wales, the Alliance has recently responded to the "Skills That Work for Wales" consultation and look forward to working with the Welsh Assembly Government on its implementation. SSCs appreciated the recognition of SSCs in the document "A strong network of SSCs in Wales, working closely with employer bodies, will help to strengthen the employer voice in decisions in skills provision ... SSCs will be the strategic interface between employers and the Assembly Government" (pg 12). The Alliance is committed to strengthening and supporting the role of its member SSCs in Wales to ensure this is a reality.

  5.  The Alliance has also recently responded to and provided evidence at the Welsh Assembly Government Enterprise and Learning Committee on the "Economic Contribution of Higher Education" inquiry.

  6.  In this inquiry, we have submitted evidence from 15 SSCs and the Chief Executive of Skills for Justice, Alan Woods along with three National and Specialist representatives will be meeting with the Committee, who will be able to answer questions on their specific sector submissions.


  7.  The essential characteristic of Sectors is that they have a distinct mix of employment and skills needs and this is reflected in the detailed work of each SSC to identify the specific relationship that their employers need with the education system and its cross border applicability. However, we believe there are common themes which run through the submissions which may serve as a basis for further discussion.


  8.  Sector Skills Councils have been formed by employers and have been licensed by Government to give employers a co-ordinated voice and a lead role in driving forward the skills base of the UK thereby improving productivity and performance across the economy.

  9.  The role of a Sector Skills Council is to engage with employers in identifying the current and future employment and skill needs of their businesses. Then, to identify the key occupations and to work with employers across the sector to define a framework of National Standards of Competence (National Occupational Standards) for each of those occupations. These standards then provide the basis for employers to identify, through their SSC, the qualifications and training that they need and will recognise as a route to employment.

  10.  These standards provide a common currency across the UK and enable the SSCs to advise in each country, on the development of the national credit and qualifications frameworks, based on the co-ordinated views of employers.

  11.  Major research into employer needs has been carried out by each Sector Skills Council which has been pulled together in Sector Skills Agreements signed by SSCs and key stakeholders in each of the four nations. These are crucial documents that should drive the relationship between education providers and employers across the UK on a sector basis.

  12.  Sector Qualifications Strategies are being developed as a clear statement from a sector about the type of qualifications that are valued by employers. They are based around the national standards. Additionally, SSCs have responsibility for developing Apprenticeship frameworks which are based on these standards and qualifications.


  13.  Individuals need to be able to make informed choices about their education. A key issue is to understand their career prospects and vocational relevance of programmes. Traditionally supply has been led by student demand but this is now being tempered by the demands of employers and the job prospects of graduates. SSCs are the route for this employer influence on supply.

  14.  A key measure of the economic value of Higher and Further Education is the extent to which it provides a route to employment. The level of graduate recruitment varies by sector and needs to be understood. A key criticism is of oversupply and the non-employment relevance of programmes.

  15.  The key partnership between SSCs and HEIs is to ensure a smooth transition between education and employment. A consistent concern from employers is the vocational relevance of degrees. It is recognised that not all degree programmes are designed to be specifically vocational—however individuals need to be able to make an informed choice. We need to be able to answer the question "if I want to be a ... then do I need a degree ... and if so, which one?" In turn employers need to understand what skills are acquired by those with a particular degree.

  16.  Mapping degree programmes against the skills and knowledge articulated in the National Occupational Standards, produced by SSCs, can help this.

  17.  Many sectors welcome the inclusion of work experience in a vocational degree programme, again this is something to explore with individual SSCs. Flexible delivery such as Foundation Degrees are proving a popular way in many sectors to link a university education with work. In these sectors, SSCs welcome the opportunity to work with HEIs to shape the programme and content. Indeed, in the Alliance response to "Skills That Work For Wales" SSCs encouraged "more robust support" for the development of these foundation degree programmes in sectors where demand is evidenced.

  18.  Employers welcome bite-sized learning and flexible delivery that can support the development of their current employees in their career development. Up-skilling the current workforce is a key target for all sectors. To be able to step back into Higher Education to develop new skills as your career develops is important for individuals and their employers. Many sectors see this as the best investment for increasing HE numbers and raising skills levels. However, flexible delivery and the integration of distance learning and work-based project work are key components in these programmes.

  19.  Employers understand that graduates are often not the finished article. A few sectors have explored the concept of "graduate apprenticeships" to help employers to provide a structured development pathway for graduates that can help embed themselves in the organisation and enable the employer to make the best use of graduate skills.

  20.  There is a need to ensure lecturers and college staff are up to date in their understanding of industry. SSCs can assist with this. For example, a successful exchange programme operates in Northern Ireland with the involvement of SSCs and Universities and colleges, enabling university staff to step back into industry to help them keep up to date with the latest developments. At the same time they can undertake a problem solving project to assist the employer.

  21.  Traditionally, further education offers more vocational relevance and flexibility of delivery, supporting work based training and apprenticeships. SSC influence over national qualification frameworks in each of the four countries and in the introduction of credits is a way of ensuring the vocational relevance of FE provision. SSC support the rationalisation of vocational qualifications in line with employer needs and would welcome equal influence on the content of qualification frameworks in Wales as they are now achieving in England.

  22.  SSCs understand the desire to expand numbers in both higher and further education. However, they would like to see this in the context of Life Long Learning and continuing professional development. They would encourage flexible delivery and support for access in later life, with the use of distance learning and innovative modes of learning and assessment.

  23.  There is some concern about completion rates. It is felt that the flexibility indicated in the previous paragraph would help to address the issue.

  24.  The SSC Management and Leadership forum would like to see the principles of management introduced at an early stage throughout the education system, encouraging self management and team working, therefore growing and understanding the role of management both in the role of work and in personal life.

  25.  The submissions from individual SSCs highlight the importance of specialist provision and the need to ensure that this is accessible equally to students across the UK. For example; the lack of HE provision for Veterinary Science in Wales, means that potential students, who would be essential to provision of Veterinary service in Wales, need to study elsewhere in Wales. The disparity in tuition fees can adversely affect these opportunities.


  26.  Differences in funding and priorities between nations, and in FE, between regions and sectors, impacts adversely on student choice and access. It can also disadvantage employers making certain sectors less attractive to students. For example; lower resourcing of FE in Wales, lower levels of funding for apprenticeships, and varying levels of tuition fees.

  27.  Funding needs to be more flexible and support available to lifelong learning and existing up-skilling of existing workforce through access to HE and FE throughout peoples working life is seen as crucial to addressing the training culture that is necessary for the UK to remain competitive in a global market and improving its skills base as recommended by Lord Leitch.


  28.  Sector Skills Councils are the key to this relationship across the UK. In summary, SSCs offer Higher and Further Education:

    —  A coherent and researched evidence base on the future skill needs of each sector of the economy in Wales and the UK.

    —  A link to the co-ordinated and official voice of employers in a sector and help to shape a programme so that it meets the needs of employment.

    —  A clear route back to employers to explain and promote an understanding of their programmes.

    —  An opportunity for UK employment relevance for their programmes.

    —  Informed advice on career routes and prospects to support informed choice by individual learners.

  29.  Further and higher education institutions engage with employers for four key purposes:

    1. To supply learning programmes to employers and their workforces.

    2. To ensure that the curricula offered remains relevant to employment.

    3. To recruit vocationally skilled professionals who are able to/desire to teach and pass on their skills.

    4. To enable FE/HEI providers to access vocationally based CPD opportunities for their staff.

  30.  It is fair to say that relationships between SSCs and the supply-side are improving on both sides of the border. As a result of the scale of provision in Wales it is sometimes easier to make these relationships. These relationships have been smoothed by the Sector Skills Agreement dialogue which has involved key stakeholders such as HEFCW. In England, a recent protocol agreed between the Association of Colleges and the SSC network is resulting in the appointment of "skills champions within FE on a sector basis, which will help FE present itself to an SSC as a coherent network".


  31.  In principle, employers see no reason why higher education provision in Wales should not serve the UK market and why English provision, particularly in specialist areas, should not be used to support the development in Wales. Quality is the key. Use of the sector specific National Occupation Standards as the basis for course design can ensure UK-wide industry applicability. SSC should provide advice on the employment market and priorities to ensure provision is relevant and to avoid over-supply.

  32.  The Sector Skills Agreements have opened the way for new relationships with individual institutions and educational stakeholders. In the submission there are many examples of good practice.

  33.  Employers work in a UK wide labour market and indeed increasingly in a global market. Links with SSCs can help ensure not just that the needs of employers in Wales can be met but that the skills are transferable across an industry on a UK basis.

  34.  Further education provision has the capacity to serve a more local focus and working within the National Credit and Qualification frameworks of Wales and England will ensure transferability across border as individuals develop their careers.

  35.  Ultimately, employers need to understand qualifications and would welcome consistency, transferability and simplicity in the system. Equality of access and funding support should be the aim.

19 June 2008



  Lifelong Learning UK (LLUK) is the independent employer led Sector Skills Council representing the lifelong learning sector.

  Our key goals are to:

    —  reduce skills gaps and shortages;

    —  improve productivity, business and public service performance;

    —  increase opportunities to boost the skills and productivity of everyone in the sector's workforce; and

    —  improve learning supply.

  LLUK provides the strategic perspective for workforce planning and development for the sector across the four countries of the UK.

  We represent employers whose primary business is the delivery or support of learning for adults and young people outside of school. These include:

    —  further education;

    —  higher education;

    —  work-based learning and private training providers;

    —  libraries, archives and information services;

    —  community learning and development—which further embraces:

    —  community development;

    —  working with parents;

    —  youth work;

    —  development education;

    —  community based adult learning;

    —  family learning; and

    —  community education.

  We are the UK wide body with responsibility for defining and developing the Lifelong Learning sector's occupational standards and the Sector's Qualifications Strategy (SQS). These standards are used to inform the recruitment and professional development of our employers' staff.

  LLUK works with and in support of the employers and stakeholders of the Lifelong Learning Sector in Wales, in addition to the comments that we make below we would also like to endorse and support the evidence provided by:

    —  FFORWM—the equivalent body in Wales to the Association of Colleges in England.

    —  Higher Education Wales (HEW)—a National Council of Universities UK representing Wales.

    —  NIACE Dysgu Cymru.

    —  National Training Federation (NTFW), Wales.

    —  The Alliance of Sector Skills Councils (TASSC) for Wales.

  LLUK welcomes the opportunity to provide evidence to the Welsh Affairs Committee on the provision of cross border public services for Wales (and in accordance with our remit) our response focuses on the Workforce Development challenges that face employers in the Lifelong Learning Sector.

  As part of our employer engagement strategy in Wales LLUK works in partnership with FFORWM, HEW, NIACE and NTFW, all of whom are represented on the LLUK Wales Sub Committee to our main UK Council.



  The Committee has already received independent evidence from FFORWM and Higher Education Wales, who have articulated detailed responses to the key evidence areas. LLUK supports the evidence provided by our partner organisations, and whilst not wishing to duplicate their respective positions LLUK wishes to set our response in the context of:

    —  FE colleges in Wales are funded less generously than colleges in England.[2]

    —  Capital investment in FE in Wales falls well behind that of any other UK country.[3]

    —  However, lecturers in FE in Wales have achieved pay parity with schoolteachers and WAG has invested heavily in ensuring this takes place.

    —  In England, there has been considerable increased investment in learners post-16. This funding has been directed towards improving facilities and equipment whereas in Wales the funding has gone on increasing the pay of lecturers. Thus learners in Wales attending colleges in England will have the benefit of improved facilities.

    —  In HE, a very large proportion of the cost base for universities in Wales is determined by collective agreements made at a UK level—be they in relation to pay or pension costs. Universities in Wales therefore manage a paradoxical situation whereby their cost base is largely fixed at a UK level while their funding allocations are agreed at a Wales level. This particular challenge has occurred at a time when there is an increasing divergence across the UK in the relative levels of HE funding—with Scotland and England pursuing a policy of investing in HE while the Assembly Government has chosen to freeze the HE unit of resource in real terms since 2001-02.

    —  This divergence in HE funding has led to the emergence of a growing investment gap between universities in Wales and those in Scotland and England. The size of the gap has grown to such an extent that it now represents 19% of total HE grant in Wales. An even larger investment gap exists between Wales and Scotland. A position of equal funding between the HE sectors in Wales and England in 2001-02 has rapidly deteriorated and developed into a substantial HE investment gap which totalled £61 million in 2005-06 (the latest available figures) according to HEFCW statistics.[4]

    —  The magnitude of the investment gap is set to grow further up to 2011 as a result of recent HE investment decisions in the three home nations. A Universities UK analysis of the HE settlements in Wales, Scotland and England as a result of CSR 2007 demonstrates that, for the third consecutive CSR period, the HE sector in Wales will receive the worst HE settlement in Britain. Given the nature of this recent HE settlement in Wales it is quite possible that the teaching unit of resource for universities in 2008-09 will be cut in real terms. At the same time, DIUS has guaranteed that the unit of resource in England will increase in real terms throughout the CSR period 2008-09 to 2010-11.

Post compulsory Education: Teacher Training Provision

    —  Standards Verification UK (the subsidiary of the sector skills council Lifelong Learning UK) and its predecessor body FENTO have been responsible for the endorsement of initial teacher training qualifications (ITT) for Further Education (FE) teachers since the mandatory requirement for FE teachers to hold an approved teaching qualifications was introduced in England and Wales in 2001.

    —  The regulatory and policy requirements endorsement scrutinised were the same for higher education institutions in England and in Wales providing ITT for FE teachers, and the FE Teachers' Regulations 2002 adopted by the Welsh Assembly in 2002 referred to the same qualifications as the Regulations adopted in England the previous year.

    —  Over time there has been evolution of the requirements to support policy in each country, but recently more significant divergence has taken place. In September 2007, new regulatory requirements in England have introduced a licence to practise for FE System (Further Education and publicly funded work based learning and Adult/Community) teachers, with a qualifications framework based on roles and revised England specific professional standards that now differ significantly from the continuing requirements in Wales even with the planned adoption of the new professional standards for teachers, tutors and trainers in the lifelong learning sector in Wales, planned for September 2008.

    —  Teachers in the FE System in England must be registered with the Institute for Learning. The impact of this divergence is threefold:

    —  For individual teachers who qualified in either country it raises the prospect that there may be additional requirements where once there were none, should a post be obtained with an employer across the border.

    —  For HEIs in Wales who have traditionally worked with partner FE colleges on both sides of the border in making ITT provision, these arrangements have become more challenging as regulatory and other requirements have diverged.

    —  For learning provider employers with operations in both England and Wales the determination of the qualifications required by their staff has become more complex.

  To illustrate the scale of these issues University of Wales, Newport have estimated that the proportion of teachers training in Wales who might then teach in England could be up to 40% for full time (pre service) cohorts in some years.

  As a result of the changes to the England regulations for teacher qualifications happening independently in England, UW Newport has had to relinquish the franchise arrangement that it held with Hereford College.

  Professor Charlie Jeffery's earlier written evidence to the Committee suggested "the UK lacks those forms of systematic intergovernmental coordination that exists in most other decentralised states to identify and pursue common objectives across jurisdictional boundaries and to build understandings of the legitimate scope of cross-border relationships that arise" (paragraph 8).

  In recognition of this position in early 2007 LLUK established a 4 Nations' Strategic Summit which supplements its other UK forums and which invites the senior civil servants with responsibility for Education and Lifelong Learning Sector policy from each UK nation, to discuss the implications/impact that the devolution of Education and Lifelong Learning policy is having on the Lifelong Learning Sector workforce, prospective workforce, students and employers, across the UK. The Summit meets twice per annum.

  LLUK maintain that Sector Skills Councils, the UK Commission for Employment and Skills and The Alliance (TASSC) are an underplayed yet vital component of "systematic inter-government coordination ... to pursue common objectives across jurisdictional boundaries and to build understanding of the legitimate scope of cross-border relationships that arise".


    —  The challenge facing student recruitment and retention in Wales must be set out in the context of Prosperity for all in the Global Economy—World Class Skills Leitch Review of Skills (Dec 2006) where Leitch stated that the UK must "raise its game" on skills at all levels if it is to sustain and improve its position in the global economy and get on track to achieve world class skills by 2020.

    —  The target aspirations for a highly-educated, highly skilled and high employment Wales are not as demanding as those which Lord Leitch has suggested the UK must aspire to achieve. LLUK notes that since the publication of the Leitch review in 2006 the position of the UK against the BRIC economies has already shifted unfavourably. We fully support the need for the targets for student recruitment and retention in Wales to be reviewed in line with the recommendations made by Lord Leitch, by the new Employment and Skills Board in Wales as a matter of priority now that it is fully formed.

    —  In order to achieve the challenges articulated by Leitch, Wales must have a successful post compulsory education and training system. The economic case for the Lifelong Learning Sector to be formally recognised as a priority sector is very well articulated. Welsh Assembly Government must give the sector due recognition in this regard.

    —  Rationalisation of Vocational Qualifications—LLUK supports the need to rationalise and audit the number of vocational and vocationally related qualifications that are currently available for all sectors. The Leitch report has highlighted that the number of different courses/qualifications available makes choosing the correct programme of study very difficult. LLUK believes that the confusion caused by the overwhelming choices on offer does not assist the process of student recruitment and retention. In line with the DCELLS statements about the role that Sector Skills Councils have in relation to Sector Skills Agreements and Sector Qualification Strategies, LLUK continue to seek assurance and support from DCELLS that LLUK will be given parity of esteem with all other SSC's in terms of being the recognised lead body for our sector.

    —  Where policy drivers require changes in practitioner knowledge, skills and behaviours or increased numbers of practitioners to deliver them (eg basic skills, economically important sectors, Learning Coach role, Welsh language, UK Vocational Reform Programme) we would welcome working with DCELLS to ensure that the practitioners are recruited and developed to service the needs of increasing student numbers. In particular where funding is specifically targeted at developing training places (such as in the recent Annual Learning and Skills Assessment 06-09 where 40,000 places on the E Skills ITQ programme were prioritised) there should be a corresponding calculation to determine the uplift in the number of practitioners required to deliver the agenda.

    —  In recent years the contribution that Libraries, Archives and Information Services (LAIS) make to the economic agenda by engaging (or recruiting) "learners which other forms of learning do not reach" has not been appropriately recognised within Lifelong Learning Sector policies. Despite lobbying, LLUK were disappointed to note that the LAIS role did not figure in the Webb Review recommendations. When Webb was questioned about this omission, he said, "We simply forgot". In accordance with the Beecham review, the role LAIS play in the Lifelong Learning Sector needs to be articulated and recognised and valued, with connections made within this strategy and at a strategic level between ACL and LAIS agendas, and thereby DCELLS and CyMAL, Heritage division. LLUK advocate that library venues need to be considered as community/satellite learning centres and the premises, resources, and personnel need to be profiled and equipped as such to ensure that this valuable resource is no longer overlooked. On behalf of our Libraries Archives and Information Service employers LLUK continues to lobby DCELLS on this position.

    —  The learning environment (the premises, the classroom facilities, the resources and the skills/knowledge of the Teacher) are an important part of a prospective student and prospective teacher/tutor/trainers criteria for selection of a programme of learning/place of work. LLUK is concerned that the increasing funding gap that has been independently evidenced by both FFORWM and HEW (which we have referenced briefly in our context statement above) will have an increasingly negative impact for Wales in terms of student recruitment/employer engagement and recruitment of high quality teachers/tutors/trainers, especially for those institutions close to the England border.


    —  The recent Skills that Work for Wales—A skills and employment strategy consultation signalled the need to "develop a more efficient learning network that will take us from success today to excellence tomorrow". Section 1.4 also specified a compelling goal for a successful post compulsory education and training system, but it stopped short of talking about the skills that the "system" will require of its workforce. LLUK strongly urges that all departments across WAG need to recognise the post compulsory Lifelong Learning Sector as a priority sector that has a crucial role in supporting the development of skills in every other sector of the economy—and the initial training and continuous professional development of staff within the Lifelong Learning Sector needs to be funded as such.

    —  LLUK has urged WAG to apply the principles it is commending to other employers "A more highly skilled workforce is a route for employers to achieve higher productivity"[5] and recognise that investing in/financing the development of the World Class skills of the Lifelong Learning Sector Workforce is essential to the success of delivering the proposed Skills & Employment Strategy.

    —  Higher Education—whilst LLUK recognises that there are major issues to be tackled in terms of basic and lower level skills in Wales—the case for higher level skills has been effectively articulated by Lord Leitch. The Lifelong Learning Sector needs to be viewed as an entire system where the ultimate goal is ensuring progression to higher level skills. LLUK is concerned that the recent Skills and Employment strategy proposals do not effectively recognise the important role of HE.

    —  Young People—In LLUK's response to Towards a National Youth Service Strategy for Wales we highlighted that a grant of £470,000 to support the training and development of youth workers and other professionals working with young people was inadequate when estimates that 3,669 members of staff are employed in the statutory youth service. If distributed evenly across the statutory workforce alone this equates to £128 per annum per person. Against the backdrop of the low numbers of fully qualified staff, and the expectations of degree level qualifications from 2010, we believe that this level of funding is inadequate, especially when we consider the additional size of the voluntary Youth Service. We suggested, with reflection on "Making the Connections: Delivering Better Services for Wales (WAG Oct 2004)" agenda, that the youth service division negotiates investment funding/preventative funding support from other departments within the Assembly Government (Health, Justice, Enterprise Innovations and Networks) to support the necessary investment in those Youth Service staff who deliver on supporting and complementary agendas.

    —  In Wales, the way that students finance their learning is currently under review. The recent Skills and Employment strategy proposals have suggested the need to develop a financial contribution policy which outlines differing levels of financial contributions from government/learners and employers. For this to be fully effective the customer (the person who buys the learning) and the consumer (the learner/student) must be convinced of its value. The effective implementation of a financial contributions policy is therefore reliant upon Sector Skills Councils being resourced sufficiently in Wales to ensure that the emerging Sector Qualifications Strategies are able to fully reflect the demands of students and employers in Wales.

    —  Further clarification on how the contributions policy will affect Lifelong Learning Sector employers would be welcomed. The public sector double funding rule, which prevents public sector employers applying for government funding for learning alongside counterpart private sector employers needs to be reviewed and removed in Wales. The Public Sector in England is no longer disadvantaged by this funding restriction.

    —  Learner Entitlement: LLUK proposes that learners/students in Wales, should be entitled to have access to appropriately qualified, professionally registered and supported (via CPD opportunities) teachers, tutors and trainers irrespective of which setting learning is delivered. This would enable learners in Wales to regain their parity of esteem with learners in England. The proposal for the financial contributions policy should consider this in terms of safeguarding value for money.

    —  The development of a contributions policy will need to be supported by a corresponding workforce development programme for employers in the Lifelong Learning Sector as articulated within LLUK Sector Skills Agreement; Theme 5—Learner Centred/Demand Led provision.


  We defer our position to the cases already expressed by FFORWM and HEW.


  Further and Higher Education institutions engage with employers for four key purposes:

    1.  To supply learning programmes to employers and their workforces.

    2.  To ensure that the curricula offered remain relevant to employers.

    3.  To recruit vocationally skilled professionals who are able to/desire to teach and pass on their skills.

    4.  To enable the F/HEI or Work based Learning Provider to access vocationally based CPD opportunities for their staff.

    —  LLUK welcomes the role identified by WAG for SSCs as the Employer voice of the skills system, within the recently published Skills that Work for Wales—a skills and employment strategy consultation. We wish to emphasis the pivotal role that the collective voice of the Sector Skills Councils have as an employer engagement mechanism which further supports and compliments the way in which F/HEIs engage with employers.

    —  LLUK engages with our employers at both a Nation specific level and a UK level. In each of the four countries of the UK we operate a "Country Sub Committee" to our UK Wide "Council". In addition to our UK Council, we have a series of UK Constituency panels that draw together constituency specific employers and stakeholders from each of the four nations (eg UK FE Constituency Panel; UK HE Constituency Panel, etc). Our Sector Skills Agreement has been developed to represent the needs of employers in each nation of the UK. We are now in the process of reviewing those skills issues which have been identified as being common across the UK and are starting to broker UK consortiums to enable us to deliver appropriate solutions in a cost effective way.

    —  We also work with our employers across the UK to develop UK wide National Occupational Standards, eg Youth Work. These standards underpin the emerging Sector Qualifications Strategies that SSC's are charged with developing. In turn SSC Sector Qualification Strategies are assisting F/HEIs and awarding bodies develop and deliver fit for purpose qualifications that employers require for their workforces.

    —  The UK Council of LLUK has identified the need for LLUK to take advantage of its unique position within the Alliance of SSCs to support the continuing development of dialogues between FEIs and HEIs, SSCs and Employers.

    —  A key vehicle to support this could be the further and ongoing development of the LLUK Impact Review project which was an additional component of the LLUK SSA, undertaken in recognition of the unique position LLUK has within the Skills for Business network. As the SSC representing the workforce in FE, HE, work-based and community learning, as well as libraries and archives, LLUK employers are the providers involved in implementing SSA the priorities and actions identified by employers in all other sectors. These priorities and actions are captured in the SSAs developed by the other 24 SSCs over the period from 2005 to 2008. The Impact Review involved a range of activities. The primary task was an analysis of the key themes impacting on the lifelong learning workforce as presented in the wealth of SSA material produced by Spring 2007, and the production of a report presenting the analysis. In evaluating the Impact Review, GHK reported that "The rationale for the Impact Review has been reinforced during the process (ie LLUK can clearly add value as a broker)".

    —  The new 14-19 Agendas in both England and Wales recognise the importance of vocational learning pathways based upon the needs of employers. Whilst LLUK recognises the necessary and statutory requirements of supporting teacher development in the statutory (schools) sector, we remain gravely concerned about the lack of funding that DCELLS is able to apportion toward equitable levels of initial and continuing professional development for teachers and support staff in the post compulsory sector. We recognise that this is an issue that also needs to be owned by the WAG cabinet in terms of the size of budget that is allocated to DCELLS. We consider this issue to be a major risk to the effective delivery of the Skills & Employment Strategy for Wales.

    —  A strong apprenticeship model is dependent upon strong Work Based Learning Delivery and Assessment and Verification. The LLUK Sector Skills Agreement has highlighted that qualified Assessor and Verifiers are generally in short supply, and gaps are more pronounced in some areas. An urgent recruitment campaign for Work Based Learning Assessors and Verifiers will be required to support any projected uplift in Modern Apprenticeship delivery within Wales, as will an audit of Teachers (both in terms of numbers and vocational updating (C&PD) requirements).

    —  To effectively represent the Lifelong Learning Sector employer demand voice—LLUK must support the view that Foundation Degrees should become a supported qualification in Wales. Employers within our footprint see these qualifications as important progression awards on a path towards professional standing in some of the constituencies that we represent. LLUK therefore welcomes the Deputy Minister's statements on the matter.

    —  Vocational Qualification Learning Delivery—Sir Adrian Webb has urged us to address concerns that teachers in FE do not always have leading-edge or even current knowledge, particularly in vocational subjects. Vocational subjects must be taught by vocational specialists who undergo regular professional development and intense immersion in their specialism. This should lead to the establishment of a minimum entitlement to CPD for teaching and lecturing staff in schools and FEIs which should form not less than 10 days per year and which should include the opportunity for staff teaching on work related programmes to have a period of immersion in the appropriate work environment. LLUK supports the need to consult with the sector to develop and agree an accepted definition and framework for CPD across all settings. In contrast, as a result of the changes in regulations in Engalnd, FEIs in England are already required to ensure that their full time teaching staff engages in a minimum of 30 hours CPD per annum, on a sliding scale for part time staff down to a minimum of six hours per annum.


    —  LLUK maintains that Sector Skills Councils, the UK Commission for Employment and Skills and The Alliance (TASSC) are an underplayed yet vital component of "systematic inter government coordination pursue common objectives across jurisdictional boundaries and to build understanding of the legitimate scope of cross-border relationships that arise".

    —  The Webb Review has highlighted the unhelpful nature of "jam jar funding" arrangements for stakeholders. LLUK would urge that the development of criteria for the proposed Sector Priorities' fund should take this into account and consider providing infrastructure funding to enable SSCs to development long term capacity and capability.


  Community based adult learning involves all young people and adults and takes a range of contexts. It plays a major role in building social inclusion and supporting civil renewal. Those employed in this field may work face to face, and their roles include leading learning by teaching or tutoring, supporting learning through tutoring, providing guidance and facilitating learning.

  Community development work assumes that within any community there is a wealth of knowledge and experience which if used in creative ways results in high levels of participation and can be channelled into collective action to achieve the community's desired goals. Community development workers work alongside people in communities in order to build relationships with key people and groups, facilitating the identification of common concerns and helping to build autonomous groups. By enabling people to act together community development workers help to foster social inclusion and equality.

  Community education encompasses the lifelong range of learning needs with a close integration in approach between work with adults, young people and children, and in providing educational support with community development. Its emphasis is upon the provision of community based learning and development support for individuals and groups based around identified needs and issues.

  Development education can be defined as lifelong learning that: enables people to understand the links between their own lives and those of people throughout the world; increases understanding of the economic, social, political and environmental forces which shape our lives; develops the skills, attitudes and values which enable people to work together to take action to bring about change and take control of their own lives; works towards achieving a more just and a more sustainable world in which power and resources are more equitably shared.

  Family learning is essentially learning that takes place in a "cross-generational" context. The values, attitudes and culture that is learnt from our families can stay with us throughout our lives. Family learning schemes are often a second chance for parents, and grandparents to return to learning. Family learning encompasses family literacy, family numeracy, family IT, classes and activities for families, courses in parenting such as living with teenagers, playing with your child, helping children learn, dealing with your child's school, and understanding about drugs.

  Parenting education is a collaborative educational approach that uses a combination of information, skills learning and the building of peer support and networks to enable parents to understand their children's and their needs better and to feel more confident and competent in their parenting. It is an approach which is relevant to all those who come into contact with children and can play a valuable part in increasing the relationship and skills and understanding of us all." The complexity of skills required by those working with parents in whatever form is very apparent not least when one considers the huge responsibility of carrying out work which will have a very major impact on peoples' lives.

  Youth work offers young people both planned and spontaneous programmes of personal and social education. As part of the wider 14-19 agenda youth work prepares young people for life. There is a wide range of practice to meet the needs of young people including arts and drama groups, counselling, detached or street based youth work, faith based groups, information and advice centres, outreach work with disadvantaged groups, project work on health issues, school; and college based provision, uniformed groups (Scouts & Guides, Cadet Units etc), and voluntary service groups. The essence of youth work is to enable the transition from childhood to independent adult life. Thus youth work provision is a complex network of providers from community groups through local authority provision to voluntary organisations.




  The sector struggles to attract the right calibre of people into the industry. Academic achievement has not been a particular strength for these individuals and from this low starting point it is obvious, from an employer's perspective that providers struggle to raise the level of skills to those needed by the industry. This is not just a Welsh issue, but one that spans all four countries of the UK.

  Basic and employability skills will form an integral part of future qualifications to ensure that those that need this extra support can receive it as part of their ongoing training.

  We have made several recommendations in the Sector Qualifications Strategy (SQS) and SQS Action Plans that we believe will begin to remedy this situation. For Wales, particularly, an automotive aspect should feature in the Welsh Baccalaureate.

  We have also made recommendations about qualifications being structured around bite-sized chunks of learning, so qualifications won't seem as daunting as they appear to be now. Lessons we've learnt from the Automotive Retail Management Standards (ARMS) development are of particular note.

  The IMI/Automotive Skills are developing a Skills Portal that is to be launched in early 2009 which will direct learners to appropriate job roles, qualifications and providers.

  The SQS focuses on the importance of `attraction and retention'. We have good relations with Careers Wales which is a great help. The IMI will work to maintain good relationships like this to ensure effective access to information, advice and guidance for young people whether they live in England or Wales.


  Funding is one of the overriding concerns of employers within the sector. We need to ensure that funding policies align with the needs of the sector.

  On occasions when no provision is available in Wales, learners have difficulty in securing funding for the training/skills development they require when it takes place outside of Wales.

  The funding for Apprenticeships within Wales is on average £1,000 short of the England funding—for example Apprenticeship for Service and Maintenance is about £8400 and FMA for Wales is around £7500. There are also a few issues for employers that prevent them accessing provision. Policy in Wales dictates that provision cannot be sought outside of Wales even if the cost of sending them to other locations in Wales is greater or that that provision does not exist. This also creates problems for dealers wanting to use vehicle manufacturer programmes if the manufacturer is not based in Wales.

  There is no Key/Core skill end test in Wales and our SQS calls for alignment of the components of the apprenticeship across the nations. So alignment between England and Wales would be beneficial from an end user point of view.


  Our engagement in this, to date, has not been as we would have wished.

  Through the development of the SQS Action Plan for Wales we hope to gain agreement from individual HEIs to work with us in the development of Foundation Degrees for the sector. We believe we need to focus on two areas for development; management and leadership and motorsport. The draft Action Plan (yet to be agreed with stakeholders) states:

    The HEFCW report, Study of the role of Foundation Degrees in Wales, identified the automotive sector as one that would benefit from the development of Foundation Degrees in Wales. The development of Foundation Degrees will help begin to extend the level and range of management and leadership skills within the sector and thus help change the culture of management and leadership and the level of skills so needed by the sector.

    In addition the development of a motorsport Foundation Degree will further help Wales maintain and develop its contribution to this sector.

    Working with HEIs and bringing them together with employers in Wales will be our first step to ensure fit-for-purpose Foundation Degrees for the sector. From this position we will then work with stakeholders to ensure that Foundation Degrees are solidly based on NOS and that these reflect the needs of the sector.

  Employer engagement is probably the most important issue for the sector. The key point is that employers won't want their ability to work with providers or their ability to recruit young people to the sector hampered by cross-border issues. Also, whether Wales has its own policies or the same policy across England and Wales. What is most important is that the system is made easy for the "end user" to understand.



  The paper covers the FE cross-border issues between Wales and England from the viewpoint of GoSkills.


  Whilst in certain respects it is easier in Wales for us as an SSC to conduct business owing to clearer roles and easier communications, in general the supply side is not as developed as it is in England. As many leading employers conduct their own training in house, the lack of consistent public funding for skills in the sector disadvantages it in relation to more favoured sectors.


  GoSkills is the Sector Skills Council for Passenger Transport. The footprint comprises airlines, air passenger transport on the ground, bus, coach, community transport, driver training, inland water passenger transport, light rail, metro and trams, rail operations, rail engineering, taxi, chauffeur and private hire and transport planning. It was licensed in October 2004. It represents its employers on a voluntary basis but does offer membership. It has a Sector Skills Agreement in Wales and a Sector Qualification Strategy in place.

  The sector groups into three major business models; those businesses which deliver passenger transport services to the end customer, those that engineer the equipment and infrastructure (bus, coach and rail) and those that provide support services (driving instruction and transport planning). These activities are spread throughout Wales, Scotland, England and Northern Ireland.

  The majority of the sector's workforce are drivers and customer-facing staff. It is a commercialised though highly regulated sector. It includes a large number of self-employed persons (taxi, private hire and driving instruction).


  Many of the larger operators have good in house training arrangements. Partly this is owing to the shortage of appropriate public provision. In turn this means that the ability to attract pubic funding for employer training requirements is not as high as in some sectors.

  Modern Apprenticeships are not well used. This is partly a function of lack of publicly-funded provision. There are currently modern apprenticeship frameworks available in five occupational areas in Wales:

    Transport Engineering and Maintenance (TEM)—covering engineering for the bus and coach industries; also appropriate for some community transport operations. TEM is available at Modern Apprenticeship and Advanced Modern Apprenticeship level.

    Road Passenger Transport (RPT)—covering driving in the bus and coach industries; also appropriate for some community transport operations. This apprenticeship is available only at Modern Apprenticeship level.

    Rail Transport Operations (RTO)—covering operational roles such as driving and customer services for the rail industry; also appropriate for light rail. This framework is available only at Modern Apprenticeship level.

    Rail Transport Engineering (RTE)—covering engineering for the rail industry. This framework is available at Modern Apprenticeship and Advanced Modern Apprenticeship level.

    Aviation—covering operational roles such as passenger handling for the airport and ground handling industries. This framework is available at Modern Apprenticeship and Advanced Modern Apprenticeship level.

  There are fewer frameworks available in Wales than in England.

  Most of the National Occupational Standards and qualifications for the sector have been developed to support job roles at operative levels such as drivers. Although there are some qualifications for roles at supervisory level, there is little available for higher level job roles. Employers throughout the sector have identified management skills as an area of need.

Key message

  The lack of consistency of funding offered—Wales has Step up to Level 2 which offers a similar arrangement to Train to Gain in England with regard to support for NVQ level 2 but, it would seem that each employer initiative has to be bid for separately, the majority of employers would be asked for a contribution, but it seems this is not universal in all cases and contribution levels where required appear to vary.

Key message

  There is a drastic shortage of providers even compared with England, where it is less than ideal—we have offered to bring in providers to develop colleges, other providers etc, yet we still meet hurdles that suppliers must be Welsh. However, with the new taxi project (see below) we seem to have been given a little lee-way, in that our offer to bring in specialist providers to train assessors etc has been provisionally accepted.

  With regard to the above project, we were initially told of all the different funding areas available for a taxi—Phv development across Wales. We have established partnerships with local authorities and other stakeholders, agreed a pilot programme and then told we have to prove a case for any funding.


  The sector's demands for higher level skills are conditioned by its structure and market. For those delivering passenger transport services the general skills of business management are required, often blended with operational knowledge. In Engineering, there are both specialist needs in areas such as railway signalling and track engineering and generalist in electrical, mechanical and electronic. There is a recognised route via a second degree for those entering the Transport Planning profession.

  The demands are fulfilled via general higher level programmes in business management, engineering degrees with specialist input as required and dedicated transport planning qualifications. Within the current English framework, our employers are exploring the benefits of Foundation Degrees as they offer work-based experience as a key component of the qualification. This theme has value in Wales too.

  There are links with Higher Education Institutes on the transport agenda in general specifically the University of Glamorgan.

  There is limited higher education provision available for our sector. The Wales Transport Research Centre is based in the University of Glamorgan in Pontypridd. The Centre is currently writing the Wales Strategy for the Freight Transport Association, but the majority of its work concerns passenger transport policy. The University is the accredited centre for Wales for the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport. The centre has also recently established a course for managers in the transport sector. This one-year part-time course provides the underpinning knowledge for Membership of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (MCILT). Membership also requires at least four years' work experience. The course has a capacity for 15 students, and currently eight are enrolled. The Centre provides input to degree courses in Transport plus another discipline. The two main courses are Transport and Travel and Tourism, and Transport and Business Studies.

  Many employers utilise in-house programmes for development of staff to senior/middle management positions without the use of higher education facilities.

Key Message

  Virtually no students undertook the identified transport HE courses in North or Mid Wales (one student recorded in each of the past two years).


  We have a Welsh Sector Skills Agreement (SSA) in place which should assist in improving the supply of skills in Wales. The main issues uncovered by our SSA research in Wales are:

    Economic predictions suggest that the Welsh passenger transport sector will expand considerably over the next five years, its rate of growth being the greatest of any of the UK nations. Historical records show considerable short term variations, however, due to the relatively small size of the industry. There are concerns in some industries that comparatively high wages, for example in the driving instruction industry, are encouraging people into the profession despite the unsocial hours, and if wage differentials are reduced there may be a large shift of people leaving for other jobs with more conventional hours.

Key Message

  There is a need to improve basic IT skills in Wales.

  Welsh sector employers face higher levels of skill gaps than the sectors across the UK and for the Welsh economy.

  The Welsh passenger transport sector faces many of the same skills issues as the whole UK, however there is a specific need for training in basic IT skills.

  Looking into the future, Welsh companies saw emerging needs in driving skills (13% of those surveyed), but also driving instruction skills (12% of companies). Basic IT skills (7% of companies) remains a priority, as well as a need for people able to service passenger transport vehicles (vehicle engineering skills were reported by 6% of companies).

  As an indication of the growing demand for basic IT skills, half of all companies would be happy with their employees having less than intermediate IT skills, but this drops to 37% when asked to look three years into the future.

Key Message

  Employees need to become engaged in training, with a particular focus in enabling those with no qualifications or NVQ level 1 to progress to NVQ level 2.

  The proportion of the Welsh workforce without any qualifications is higher than the UK average, although the proportion of the workforce with NVQ level 2 or less is close to the average for the UK.

  Engagement with training is lower in Wales than other parts of the UK, and there are also major difficulties in locating local training provision. Anecdotal evidence gives examples of companies using English providers as far away as Southampton or London to meet their needs. Funding for training is also an important issue for the nation, matching the difficulties faced UK wide.

  Our Sector Skills Agreement (SSA) Action Plan is currently being implemented, overseen by our Welsh Employer Group.

  As part of our SSA, we have an agreement in place with Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) relating to mutual support, the sharing of LMI and use of joint communication channels.

  One of our SSA projects involved the use of drama through a Higher Education Institution to raise customer service issues with managers and supervisors. This has been well received by two businesses active in Wales—Arriva and Cardiff City Bus. However, we have had to use the London-based Central School of Speech and Drama.


  All Welsh bus drivers have been trained in disability awareness, in large part through funding support won by GoSkills. This has been a relatively easy win in Wales owing to the relatively greater importance of the bus in Wales as a passenger transport medium. The position with regard to this training is not as good in England.

  We are commencing work with local licensing authorities to improve the image and self-esteem of taxi and private hire drivers through the achievement of recognised national qualifications and hence improve service quality. It has been easier to implement this latter reform in England owing to the higher level of skills funding for businesses but the work is now beginning to take off in Wales too.




  The financial services sector engages widely with private training providers. To reflect this, we, the Financial Services Skills Council, have drawn from the experience of a private training provider with LSC and other publicly funded contracts and the experience of a further education college. Unfortunately, we were not able to obtain specific information from any HEIs to include within this report.

  Gloucestershire College reports difficulties in obtaining funding for students coming from Wales (and indeed from LSC regions other than Gloucestershire). The difficulty appears to stem from the need to ask permission for the funding to come with the student, a process that is reported to be difficult and lengthy.

  The college has strong links with employers, working with around 1000 employers annually, on a regular basis. The college has an account management structure for employer engagement and, depending on its nature; provision is delivered either through individual schools within the college or by business units. Since introducing the account management structure, the college has increased the number of employers it works with by 30%. Its employer engagement work is worth approximately £1 million in fees and £3 million in total and includes: apprenticeship programmes, Train to Gain, FE programmes, HE programmes, bespoke and full cost programmes.

  Acorn Learning and Development, a private provider in receipt of public funding, has a well-established programme of employer engagement activities on both sides of the border. In Wales, its activities include:

    —  Liaison with SSCs to ensure they are fully informed of the funded/commercial training programmes provided to their sectors, attendance at SSC events.

    —  Review of local publications to understand business activities in Wales eg, Western Mail/Business magazines.

    —  Information on training programmes detailed on websites—Acorn website, Careers Wales "Choices" website (this links to LearnDirect), Flexible Business Support Website (Welsh Assembly), Business Eye.

    —  Attendance at regular jobs fairs held locally for employers and individuals, eg, Jobs Fairs, Ideal Business Show.

    —  Involvement in local initiatives supported by the Welsh Assembly and Business bodies, eg, "Lead On" Leadership Conference, DYSG Conferences, CBI Wales lunches/breakfasts/conferences, IoD events, National Training Awards, Chamber of Commerce events.

    —  Use of employer arrangements in existence with Acorn Group Recruitment clients.

    —  General marketing activities eg, emails/press releases/sponsorship of sporting events/hospitality/local sales activities/mail shots.

    —  Collaborative initiatives with other delivery partners eg, Local colleges/HE institutes/JCP.

  Acorn does not actively market its services to employers in England, as its strategic focus is working with employers in Wales. However, the following activities are carried out:

    —  Existing employers in Wales with employees in England—provision of training and development solutions is mostly commercial training only; where funding is required Acorn would contact a training provider in England to partner to access funding or collaborate on delivery.

    —  Acorn Group Recruitment clients—where a client of the Group requires training and development solutions in England, Acorn reviews the opportunity and provides costs on commercial delivery, liaises with SSCs/LSC/RDA where necessary. Where funding is required Acorn would contact training providers in England to support/collaborate.

  For employers with their own LSC contract, or a training provider not contracted to provide funded services in Wales, Acorn supports cross-border delivery by:

    —  Sub-contracting some of its WAG WBL contract to the organisation.

    —  Becoming the delivery arm of that organisation in Wales.

    —  Becoming a partner for partial delivery of the programme in Wales.

  Acorn's experience suggests that a collaborative or partnership approach to cross-border delivery facilitated professionally between delivery partners, whether private providers, further education colleges or higher education institutions, is the most successful route to ensuring that employers' needs are fully met.

  Acorn has found that in practice, there is a lack of awareness and understanding of how such partnerships can work. Other providers, and indeed employers, with national LSC contracts have very little information about how support can be implemented cross-border. Acorn would welcome such information being provided more widely and being more accessible to all.



  Creative & Cultural Skills wishes there to be a parity of approach and access to funding and excellence in terms of skills development and training in both England and Wales, in particular supporting talented young Welsh people.

  One of the priorities for the Creative & Cultural Skills Wales Employers Group is Creative Apprenticeships. The LSC in England supports Creative Apprenticeships and we hope that this qualification receives the same support in Wales. In Wales, all-age apprenticeships are welcomed; the focus in England is still on young people.

  The National Skills Academy (NSA) in England, that aims to reduce skills gaps and shortages in backstage and off-stage skills, has now been approved by UK government. Creative Apprenticeships will form part of its core offer. The same skills gaps and shortages in Wales exist and a Centre for Excellence is proposed in Wales linked to the Wales Millennium Centre. The ambition is for it to be part of the NSA network with education and employer partnerships throughout Wales. Through Creative Apprenticeships and the Centre for Excellence, Creative & Cultural Skills wishes to identify and develop Welsh talent and also attract talent into Wales on UK-wide recognised standards. Support is needed for these programmes so that people in Wales are not disadvantaged. They must have the equality of opportunity and the same clear progression routes in and into industry.




  We have a peripatetic workforce and they need a clear simplified set of qualifications that they can use UK wide, there are so many differences in the UK now it's quite difficult for them to understand the complexities of it. Also, the functional math's elements were developed with employers in England to ensure that the candidates have the requisite skills to be able to complete a Level 3 qualification. Level 3 is the minimum standard for a plumber, electrician and HVCA engineer throughout the UK. Functional math's has not been adopted here in Wales; there was no consultation with us from the qualifications team in the Assembly.


  T2G in England has seen a significant uptake of training in our sector, it's not perfect but then nothing is. The workforce development fund is one of the biggest secrets around, employers don't know about it. No advertising from the WAG on it at all. The ones that do know about it think the process is complicated and not worth the hassle. Training providers who work cross border constantly ask for T2G in Wales. The system is well marketed, simple to access and has engaged employers; this is not true for workforce development fund.


  In our sector this has been going on for years due to the lack of available provision. No level 3 refrigeration courses means Bath College has been the only provider for Wales. N Wales has lost out completely. We have a shortage of consultants at level 4, most of our students go to England for training.




  Skillset is the Sector Skills Council for the Creative Media industries. Jointly funded by industry and government, our job is to make sure that the UK creative media industries have the right people, with the right skills, in the right place, at the right time, so that our industries remain competitive.

  We are responsible for the following sectors: Publishing, Television, Film, Radio, Animation, Interactive Media, Computer Games, Photo Imaging, Facilities and Publishing.

  We have offices in England (with representation in the nine regions), Wales (Skillset Cymru), Scotland and Northern Ireland.

  Skillset Cymru published its Sector Skills Agreement for Wales in 2005. Below are the themes we base our actions upon, in order to meet the needs of our industries:

    —  Pre-Entry Provision.

    —  Informal and Community Learning.

    —  Further and Higher Education.

    —  Post Entry Training—entry-level training.

    —  Information, Advice and Guidance.

    —  Business and Company Development.

  The majority of the companies in the creative media industry in Wales are SMEs. Research carried out as part of the Sector Skills Agreement process identified the need for: targeted contextualised business support, a need for business, management and leadership training, support for small businesses to develop higher level specialised skills.

  Our research also shows that in our sectors 66% of the workforce is graduates and 24% hold postgraduate qualifications. Over 70% of employers see FE and HE as providing the potential to support pre-entry skills and specialized knowledge. The industry has identified a need to work more strategically with FE and HE providers to target resources to known centres or courses of excellence and to assist students and funding bodies making informed decisions about courses.

  The feedback we get from our industries in Wales regarding the HE provision available in our sectors often mentions the lack of relevance with the reality of the work environment. Industry usually resolves to in-house training or private specialised training (at high cost) in order to address skill gaps.

  Moreover, industry feedback suggests that the institutions are sometimes driven by the funding formulas to focus on number of learners at the detriment of quality and relevance to our industries.

  We recognise that HE provision is vital to the success of our industries but in order to meet their needs and contribute to their economic development, it needs to be more responsive.


  Skillset works extensively with Further and Higher Education across the UK. Based on our research and consultation with our industries, we have established UK-wide networks of FE and HE institutions which industry has signposted as providing excellence in specialist sub-sector provision. These networks involve Welsh FE and HE institutions and we explain in more detail below.

  Although we would welcome any initiatives of further collaboration amongst the two Higher Education funding councils (HEFCE and HEFCW) in particular, the relationships are working well so far.

  The industry is interested in quality provision wherever this can be supplied; competition, we believe, is healthy in raising the standards and we have noted instances where specialist training was not available through the FE and HE sector in Wales, or indeed its neighbouring English Regions. For example, a new entrants programme for the post production industries that we successfully run in Wales (called First Post) was delivered in Wales by the collaboration of a Welsh company (Barcud Derwen) and a London-based training facilitator (Soho Editors). The collaboration provided an opportunity to develop the capacity for specialist post-production training in Wales.

  It is also worth noting that the Skillset Cymru's Training Framework, supported through the Welsh Assembly's Workforce Development Programme, is another success story for our industries in Wales. Key to the success is the flexibility that the programme provides by supporting a sector-specific integrated offer of Company, Freelance / Individual and Training support. This we believe is a good practice model that our Welsh industries are benefiting from.[6] More details on this also below.


  As we mentioned before, our industries need a consistent supply of relevant high-level skills in order to remain competitive in a global market. Therefore, all our sector strategies have identified working with Further and Higher Education as a priority.

  Skillset's work with Further and Higher Education is pioneering in bringing together partnerships of FE, HE and industry in order to address industry's skills needs. Responding to the needs of specific sub-sectors of the creative industries, Skillset has devised solutions that are beneficiary to our industries, learners and the Further and Higher Education sector. These solutions are UK-wide and they encourage better co-ordination of FE and HE institutions across the borders through a network of Skillset Academies and Accredited courses:

    —  The Skillset Media Academies form a network of colleges and universities across the UK which are Centres of Excellence in television and interactive media, selected by an industry-led panel.

    —  The Skillset Screen Academies are institutions which the UK film industry has identified as those offering the highest quality of skills training for film.

    —  Working with industry, Skillset also accredits practice-based courses in FE and HE that most effectively provide learners with the skills and knowledge that employers need.

In Wales


  The overall aim of the Skillset Screen Academy Wales is to enhance the quality of film education (which impacts on all other creative industries through the transferable skills gained), and therefore increase employability within the creative industries and retain creative talent.

  The lead partners are Cardiff School of Creative and Cultural Industries (CCI) within the University of Glamorgan and the International Film School Wales (IFSW) at the University of Wales, Newport. The Academy also brings together other key centres of excellence in film-related vocational training and education: the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama; Cardiff Business School; Swansea Metropolitan University; Cyfle, the national vocational training company for the film, television and interactive media industry in Wales, is the lead consultant to the partners.


  Skillset has been approached by the consortium of institutions constituting the Screen Academy Wales. They are working towards a bid to become a Skillset Media Academy. The bid will be considered in autumn 2008.


  Currently, there are four industry accredited HE courses in Wales in two HE institutions:

    BA in Computer Animation, HND in Art & Design (Computer Animation) & BA Hons Animation at the Glamorgan Centre for Art & Design Technology.

    BA (Hons) Animation at the University of Wales, Newport.

  These institutions also receive funding through HEFCW and industry support through Skillset in the form of master-classes, work placements and representation in industry festival and events.


  Digital Media Consortia is a partnership of six Higher Education Institutes dedicated to increasing communication and collaboration between academia and the digital media sector. It is the Consortia's intended role to work with industry to help develop new markets and products and develop industrially relevant training provision for the Digital Media Sector.

  Skillset Cymru is working closely with its partners to develop new Management and Leadership courses for the creative media industries in Partnership with PACT, Cyfle and Learning to Inspire. They will be covering areas such as marketing, budgets and finance, staff and production management. We will be looking at appropriate HE engagement in delivering these courses.


  The Skillset Cymru Training Framework, supports creative media production companies and freelancers to enhance their skills in the challenging and constantly evolving creative media industries.

  The framework, developed in partnership with S4C and the Welsh Assembly Government, is open to all Wales-based freelancers and companies and provides:

    1. Company support—employers will access the services of a Human Resource Advisor to develop Business Learning and Development Plans and then access funding to implement these plans and train their staff. Companies will have to offer some match funding.

    2. Freelance support—freelancers can also access a HR Advisor for guidance and funding to attend any training of their choice—funding could cover up to 80% of their training fees.

    3. Funding for Training Providers—there is separate funding for training providers to develop programmes that address specific industry skill needs.


  We believe that better communication and flexibility between industry and HE will increase the economic contribution of the HE sector in the Welsh economy and help raise its productivity through the high level skills of its citizens.

  Greater interaction is needed to ensure specialist training is relevant, affordable and graduates are employable. Consistent investment for specialist education focusing on quality will have in the long run greater impact in the economic development.

  The format for funding for Further and Higher education currently works on a payment per student principle for the institution—so Universities are encouraged to run popular courses, which may not serve the needs of the industry. With a wide range of FE/HE provision available of varying quality and relevance, industry has indicated to us that it wishes to see resources targeted to develop centres and courses of excellence to better assist students and funding bodies make more informed decision about programmes of study and their careers.

  We would like to note that Skillset Cymru has submitted these views to the Welsh Assembly Government through the Skills that Work for Wales consultation and the Welsh Assembly's Government inquiry into the economic contribution of Higher Education.

  We have also expressed our views on the importance of provision for high level skills for the development of a thriving Welsh broadcasting industry to the Welsh Broadcasting Committee and we are making similar points to the Public Service Broadcasting Review currently conducted through OFCOM.


  In line with the National Assembly emphasis on skills and learning, Skillset has developed a Sector Qualifications Strategy for Wales. The key priorities identified include:

    —  Create a greater offer of flexible training for individuals including accredited in-house training schemes, by maximising the opportunities offered by Credit and Qualifications In Wales.

    —  Raise standards in Wales in both FE and work based learning at levels 3 and 4, undertaking a review of existing vocational qualifications and create a comprehensive and demand led offer.

    —  Encourage sustainable partnerships between industry and education and work with delivery partners to help develop and sustain effective collaboration between industry and education in Wales.




  1.1  This memorandum is the response of Skills for Justice, to the Welsh Affairs Committee letter to Karen Nimmo, Alliance of Sector Skills Councils dated 21 April 2008.


  2.1  Skills for Justice is the Sector Skills Council covering all employers, employees and volunteers working in the UK justice system. The Skills for Justice footprint in Wales comprises 24,600 employees, which is 2% of the entire Welsh population. This includes Community Justice; Court Services; Custodial Care operating in both the public and private sectors; Policing and Law Enforcement and Prosecution Services.

  2.2  The Sector Skills Agreement is an assessment of skills needs and priorities within the Justice sector. It identifies and articulates the sector's further workforce and skill needs so that employers, learning providers and Skills for Justice can take collaborative action to address them. It is intended to provide a means whereby employers and employees in the Justice sector can identify skills and productivity needs, the action they will take to meet those needs, and how they will collaborate with providers of training and skills so that skills demand can directly shape the nature of supply.

  2.3  Skills for Justice concluded its SSA in Wales in November 2007 and subsequently agreed a partnership agreement with HEFCW which is outlined below as the basis for an on-going relationship between the Sector and Welsh HEIs. As a result of this agreement there are emerging partnerships with individual institutions.


  3.1  The Committee has requested written evidence on the following issues:

    —  Student recruitment and retention.

    —  Student finance.

    —  Research funding.

    —  The way in which further and higher education institutes engage with employers on both sides of the border.

  3.2  As the Sector Skills Council for the Justice Sector, Skills for Justice has a UK wide remit with representation in all four nations. In November 2007 when we agreed our Sector Skills Agreement we drew up a three year action plan with partners including Welsh Assembly Government, Careers Wales, Job Centre Plus, Wales TUC and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales—HEFCW.

  3.3  The Skills for Justice SSA highlighted that the vast majority of employers within the Justice sector provide training for their staff, more than 85% across the UK rely on in-house provision. The focus is predominantly on training at entry level for specialist staff such as Police Officers or Probation Officers and initial training ranging from a few weeks to two years. Substantial time, money, resource and planning is focused on induction and probationer training with the sector. There are several examples of how the HE sector is making provision to accommodate the justice sector in Wales for example:

    (a) University of Glamorgan

      The University of Glamorgan has founded the Glamorgan Centre for Police Sciences which is a multidisciplinary group of academic staff researching and teaching in police related matters. All initial police learning and development for South Wales Police Officers is delivered at the University of Glamorgan by a mixture of serving Police Officers and University Staff. All new recruits undertake a two year foundation degree in Police Studies. There is also an advanced appointment scheme for those students studying on the full time Police Studies degree whereby students enroll as Special Constables during their studies and upon graduation could become fully fledged police officers.

      University of Glamorgan has been innovative in its approach to meet the needs and demands not just of the police service. For example our SSA highlights a problem with a lack of training for multi-agency working. From next year a module on "Dealing with Vulnerable People" will be offered and will see student police officers, health visitors, social workers and nurses coming together for joint tutorials which should naturally encourage multi agency working.

    (b) UPSI—Universities' Police Science Institute

      The Universities Police Science Institute (UPSI) has been established to enhance and develop the professionalism of the police service. It will do this by improving the evidence based available to inform how policing is configured, delivered and developed.

      The UPSI is based upon an innovative collaboration between Cardiff University, the University of Glamorgan (through the Glamorgan Centre for Police Sciences) and South Wales Police. This partnership enables the Institute to:

        —  Apply innovative research methodologies and conceptual frameworks to the investigation of the most pressing challenges confronting the police.

        —  Use its inter-disciplinary orientation so that the latest research evidence directly informs the training and development of new recruits to the police, as well as existing staff.

        —  Design, implement and rigorously test new solutions to problems, so that policing agencies can deliver services that meet the needs of all communities.

        —  Enhance the education and training of police personnel to promote evidence-based decision making.

    (c) Swansea Metropolitan University

      Swansea Metropolitan University has been working very closely with South Wales Police to develop a program for Leadership and Management—initially for those recently promoted to sergeant and inspector. The program is being developed jointly between SWP, SMU and Skills for Justice will be based upon National Occupational Standards and mapped across to a formal qualification. The project is still very much in the development stage but has been a very clear example of how a University can develop a flexible delivery model in order to meet the needs of an operational police service.

      Swansea Metropolitan University has also made accommodation available to South Wales Police to base their Western Professional Development Unit at the University.

    (d) University of Wales College Newport & Bangor University

      University of Wales College Newport were one of only four UK HEI's to successfully bid to provide the Degree and Diploma (NVQ 4) in Probation Studies. The course can be delivered and examined through the medium of Welsh and has been developed as a joint exercise with Bangor University—who deliver the course to students in North Wales.

  3.4  Out of the four issues highlighted in your letter we can only comment on the last point relating to cross border engagement. There are difficulties in our sector as the function of law enforcement and policing is not devolved. Prisons are not devolved, where as Education is. We currently have an issue where in England, Her Majesty's Prison Service is using Train to Gain funds to finance Leadership and Development training whereas Wales has four prisons but no access to the Train to Gain fund.

  These examples may affect the way in which further and higher education institutes engage with employers on both sides of the border. However, from the perspective of Skills for Justice it is too early to envisage what affect this may be.


  4.1  At the current time, Skills for Justice is unable to provide any further factual information to the Committee. However, as progress against the Wales action plan with HEFCW is achieved and further engagement made with HEI's in Wales, Skills for Justice will be in a stronger position to comment in the future.




  1.  Semta has focused on the employer engagement of further and higher education. Our view is that employer engagement is patchy for a number of reasons, which are common across the UK, but that the challenges faced by FE and HE in engagement are different.


  2.  Industry owned and led, Semta aims to increase the impact of skilled people throughout the science, engineering and manufacturing technologies sectors.

  3.  We work with employers to determine their current and future skills needs and to provide short and long term skills solutions, whether that be training and skills development, or campaigning with government and other organisations to change things for the better. Through our labour market intelligence and insights from employers across our sectors, we identify change needed in education and skills policy and practice, and engage with key industry partners and partners in the education and training sector, to help increase productivity at all levels in the workforce.

  4.  The sectors we represent are: Aerospace; Automotive; Bioscience; Electrical; Electronics; Maintenance; Marine; Mathematics; Mechanical; Metals and Engineered Metal Products.

  5.  Semta is part of the network of 25 employer-led Sector Skills Councils.



  6.  Semta manages a 4 Nations Group, which was set up specifically to highlight cross-border issues, and promote good practice across the four nations of the UK. This group has already identified a specific issue with the lack of a joined up strategy for UK PLC, which positions the needs of the economy within the business strategy for the higher education funding councils and Universities UK.


  7.  FE employer engagement in England is variable, with some colleges and providers managing to offer a wide range of training services appropriate to and tailored for companies in our sector.

  8.  The engineering sector is particularly fortunate in its network of Group Training Associations (which are found in England, Scotland and Wales), which provide apprenticeship management services, and bespoke training which is especially relevant for small firms.

  9.  The issues around FE employer engagement are typical across the 4 nations, namely:

    (a) Lack of flexibility of provision, particularly in colleges, whereby courses are offered from a "menu" of content and delivery which does not permit an employer to access the kind of short, "just-in-time", on-site courses it requires. This is usually due to the funding being linked to completion of whole qualifications, which necessitates the provider charging full cost for any provision outside this. Private providers may have an advantage in the "full cost" market as they have more credibility with employers to deliver bespoke, specialist training.

    (b) Indirect and direct cost to FE and employers of the process of engagement—setting up networks, and spending time building relationships can be a costly process for both parties.

    (c) FE college staff lack of time to improve their vocational skills in the workplace. One of the ways in which employer engagement can be facilitated is through tutor placements in industry, but the process of setting these up and giving them proper support is time-consuming. FE tutors' current industry knowledge can be somewhat patchy, which also means their training delivery may compare poorly to that from private providers who can call on current practitioners.

    (d) Potential conflict between many colleges' ethos of social inclusion, and the principle of "skills for employability" which is increasingly their remit. Some colleges have built their excellent reputations on local community links, helping those on the margins of society engage for the very first time in meaningful learning, but this reputation means local employers do not see them as credible providers of technical training.

    (e) The necessarily competitive market for employer training can lead to employers being "turned off" from FE providers, particularly if they are cold-called repeatedly by local providers, all offering similar provision and funding.


  10.  As mentioned previously, HE has particular issues in that economic need should be embedded in the strategy for funding across the four nations, in order to present a coherent picture. HE is more of a national and international consideration than FE, with students and institutions engaging across borders.

  11.  Issues with employer engagement with HE:

    (a) Problems of "language"—HE uses a very different vocabulary to that of business, and the two sides can feel that their viewpoint is little understood by the other. University career structures and succession plans should give more importance, currency and priority to relevant job roles where business knowledge and experience will add value; thus encouraging staff in these job roles to maintain and improve their business knowledge and experience via employer secondments. However, these career structures and succession planning processes must be transparent to give staff the incentive to develop this knowledge and experience. Current higher education culture does not appear to encourage this type of personal development.

    (b) Similarly to FE, HE has a potential conflict between meeting employer needs and its wider accepted remit—not social inclusion in this case, but rather the enlargement of knowledge, and development of pure research. Balancing these priorities can be problematic.

    (c) Although employers recognise and value higher education qualifications, not enough of these qualifications deliver the business-driven higher level skills that employers need and demand to drive their businesses forward. As a consequence employers buy the majority of the business driven higher level skills training and education from the private sector. The higher education sector needs to work more closely with Sector Skills Councils and employers to fully understand employer needs and demands for higher level skills and then develop new products and services that employers are prepared to buy.


Higher Apprenticeship at Airbus

  12.  The Higher Engineering Apprenticeship is being delivered for Airbus via a partnership arrangement between North East Wales Institute and Deeside College. Working with Semta, the company and providers have been able to develop a programme which meets the needs of the company, and which can be funded through existing channels. The Higher Engineering Apprenticeship comprises a Foundation Degree (or HND), NVQs at Levels 3 and 4, and Key Skills to the highest levels. It also links to professional standards through the engineering institutions. The individual therefore achieves a nationally recognised set of qualifications within a framework of delivery which suits the company, and which provides the skills the company needs both now and in the future.

Work on composites

  13.  In the Deeside area, work has recently been undertaken to establish the feasibility of the establishment of a Composite Skills Academy. The academy would particularly support the aerospace sector across the UK as it moves into advanced composites, but other sectors such as marine, automotive, construction and healthcare would also benefit. There is clearly a will to become world class behind such projects, and we hope the Committee will consider supporting schemes which are built on strong employer engagement.



  Higher Education plays an important role in developing skills across the Built Environment sector and therefore makes a significant financial contribution to the Welsh economy.

  Asset Skills is the Sector Skills Council (SSC) responsible for the skills interests of employers in the Property Services, Housing, Facilities Management and Cleaning industries. It represents employers and organisations throughout Wales and the UK that provide services to owners and occupiers of all types of property (commercial, public and private).

  There is an Asset Skills Cymru board of employers representing our four sectors, comprising a cross section of Welsh companies and UK national ones with offices or branches in Wales. This gives an employer cross section of SMEs, larger focused Welsh companies and also firms with a UK perspective but also Welsh interest. Asset Skills has also developed an extensive data-base of employers that can be filtered to target specific geographical areas, sectors and size of companies.

  The main issues for our employers regarding cross border issues would affect the UK wide employers with employees/offices in Wales due to the differences in accessing training and funding eg the Employer Pledge in Wales is different to the Employer Pledge in England.

  Procurement would also be an issue due to different procedures in Wales and England. These would also be issues for employers operating near the borders eg Wrexham, Monmouth, where within a short operating distance the differences in funding opportunities, training, qualifications and procurement opportunities could be markedly different.


Profile of the Asset Skills Sector in Wales

    —  The Asset Skills sector in Wales employs about 31,600 people.

    —  About 45% of the workforce is employed in Property and Housing and about 55% in the Facilities Management and Industrial Cleaning industries.

    —  93% of all Asset Skills' workplaces in Wales are small, employing between 1-10 people.

    —  The proportion of the UK Asset Skills workforce employed in Wales (4%) is marginally lower than the proportion of total UK employment located in Wales (about 5%).



  An area that has been highlighted in Asset Skills' Sector Needs Analysis (SNA) carried out for our Sector Skills Agreement is the gender/age deficit, especially related to the surveying profession. This has been exacerbated in Wales due to a lack of surveying courses with students having to travel out of Wales for course provision and then often failing to return to Wales for employment possibly due to wage differentials. A report by Asset Skills on the Analysis of HE Provision within the Asset Skills Sector showed that surveying students from Wales comprised:

    —  12% in the North East of England.

    —  9% in the East Midlands.

    —  5% in the South West of England.

    —  5% in the West Midlands.

    —  5% in Yorkshire and Humberside.


  A shortage of town planners, especially in local authorities, has also been highlighted in Asset Skills' SNA. Students from Wales in planning courses in England comprised:

    —  12% in the South West of England.

    —  5% in the West Midlands.

    —  3% in the South East of England.


  The number of Welsh students travelling out of Wales to study housing courses is very small, the highest percentage being 2% in both the North West of England and West Midlands. This could be explained by accessibility to courses within Wales with relatively little need to travel to access a suitable course and also good linkages with Welsh employers. UWIC (University of Wales Institute, Cardiff), is also seeing students apply from the Midlands, Marches and the South West of England with around 12% of their full time students coming from outside Wales, and is developing employer links in those areas. However, with regard to part time students connected with UWIC, on qualification a small number have left their organisations to work in England, in areas such as the Forest of Dean, Hereford, Gloucestershire and Bristol. This is primarily for experience in higher level posts and they tend to return to Wales when an opportunity arises.


  It is hoped that the shortages in HE courses within surveying and planning will in some way be addressed by the introduction this academic year of a number of RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) accredited courses in surveying and planning at the University of Glamorgan eg Foundation Degree in Surveying, HNC in Surveying and MSc Construction Project Management along with undergraduate courses in Quantity Surveying and Real Estate Appraisal and Project Management. These are in addition to five RICS accredited under-graduate and master's courses already run by Cardiff University.


  Asset Skills' Sector Needs Analysis also identified the following as issues and skills needs relevant to the HE Sector and employers.

    —  More effective employer engagement with HE.

    —  Undergraduate provision which better meets the needs of employers.

    —  Developing qualifications: demand for specialist skills and qualifications eg regeneration.

    —  Refining HE provision in Facilities Management (FM) and developing FM as a career.

    —  Making housing more attractive as a career option to graduates.

    —  Tackling the gender and age deficit within the surveying profession.

    —  Address the undersupply of town planners.

    —  Closing the skills gaps between academic knowledge and reality of undertaking work especially as a chartered surveyor.

  To meet the skills needs that have been highlighted above by our Sector Needs Analysis an HE Built Environment Forum of HEI providers working in Asset Skills' sectors has been set up at Asset Skills' instigation.

  So far the response from HEIs has been positive with eight institutions participating. Asset Skills is in the process of gathering employers to input into the forum and a number of employers are already committed to an ongoing dialogue with HEIs. The employers involved are all Welsh based but some are part of larger organisations which will provide an opportunity to assess any cross border needs. We will also propose to the forum that when there are cross border interests that these be looked at as well.


    —  Asset Skills sees HEIs as an important element in delivering their SSA and in meeting the skills needs of employers.

    —  Bringing together HEIs which have common ground and can work together to avoid duplication so that resources are best used and provide graduates who are as `work ready' as possible would benefit the Asset Skills sectors.

    —  We are also looking to develop similar engagement in the further education sector.


    —  Asset Skills is the Sector Skills Council for the Property Services, Housing, Facilities Management and Cleaning industries.

    —  Asset Skills was licensed as an SSC in 2005 and was a combination of national training organisations that joined together.

    —  Asset Skills Cymru's SSA was completed and signed in October 2007.

    —  Asset Skills' Sector Qualification Strategy was approved in March this year.

    —  Direct funding has been received from Wales since Asset Skills was licensed to facilitate the delivery of sector specific projects.

    —  Asset Skills' Welsh Language Scheme has been approved in draft form and is due to go for consultation in the next two months.

    —  The Head of Asset Skills Cymru is based in Wales. Asset Skills has had a dedicated Welsh presence since it was licensed in 2005.



  The land-based and environmental sector is currently served by a network of specialist learning providers. This provision often comes at a cost though, both in terms of estates, capital investment, higher unit costs and provision of residential accommodation. There are concerns that increased pressure for these institutions to amalgamate, particularly with larger general providers, would have a detrimental effect on their quality and sectoral focus. One particular example is the Welsh College of Horticulture where the current debate concerning amalgamation is polarised between working with a larger local FE provider or seeking a strategic partnership with an HE provider. The latter solution would provide both improved progression routes for students and access to higher level courses in horticulture in Wales for the first time.

  In respect of curriculum development, The Welsh College of Horticulture is also actively involved in a consortium supporting delivery of the Specialised Diploma in Cheshire and sees this work as also benefiting the development delivery of the land-based Welsh Baccalaureate. This synergy will further enhance individuals' progression routes within horticulture.

  Where no specialist HE provision exists, as for instance with Veterinary Sciences, any aspirant Welsh student must travel to other parts of the United Kingdom. With significantly higher levels of tuition fees in England, this has the potential to cause barriers to access.

  There has been a strong flow of students in both directions across the border in order to access specialist land-based provision; if funding barriers were to be put in place this would both damage access for individuals and may put pressure on the financial sustainability of those specialist Welsh providers close to border with England.



  1.  It is difficult for SSC regional managers to comment on cross border issues since if they solely represent Wales they may be unaware of activities in England.

  2.  As the education and skills policies of England and Wales increasingly diverge there will need to be additional resources to scrutinize and respond to changes. For example, England will raise the school leaving age to 18 within five years and Wales has no plans to do so and activities to address NEET youngsters are diverging.

  3.  Employers require ever higher employee skills to remain competitive and are increasingly confused by different qualifications, for example the English diploma and the Welsh Baccalaureate are similar but with subtle differences. The engineering diploma starts in England in September but the engineering Baccalaureate starts in September 2009. The engineering outcome aspects are the same but supporting learning differ. Cogent industries are often global in nature, so comparing potential employee's qualifications will become increasingly difficult.

  4.  Cogent has received approval for two National Skills Academies (one for nuclear NSAN, and one for the process industries NSAPI), which are wholly owned subsidiaries. These will become the delivery mechanism for the relevant Sector Skills Agreements, with employer led National Occupational Standards and Sector Qualification Strategies developed. NSAN has been recognized in Wales (given its employer support and strategic importance in Anglesea, but support for future National Skills Academies in Wales is being reviewed.

  5.  Cogent are developing foundation degrees for its industry sectors, supported by Foundation Degree Forward in England, but support for foundation degrees in Wales is being discussed.

  6.  Cogent supports the increasingly important composites sector for aviation, but there are differing training support mechanisms for Filton in Bristol and Broughton in North Wales.



  Energy & Utility Skills is the Sector Skills Council for the electricity, gas, waste management and water industries. Employer-led, our purpose is to identify employers' skills needs and provide effective solutions to improve business performance across the UK.

  The energy and utility sector in Wales is a critical and significant sector and employs around 30,000 people.

  The sector in Wales has a strong history of reliability and dependability stretching back some 50 years. Electricity, gas and water in particular have a sound brand name founded on a skilled workforce platform.

  Our sector faces advancing technology, rapid change, global competition and rising expectations of choice. The skills of our people and their continuing development are crucially important to employers and employees.

  The sector has an aging workforce and is faced with a declining number of young people entering the workforce. This relates specifically to suitable candidates for skilled roles which are so important to the continued improvements in productivity sought by the economic regulators. Work is needed to ensure that the sector is perceived as an attractive career choice for young people and those from non-traditional employment pools.

  There is good evidence to suggest that those who come to work for the sector stay for significantly longer than the UK average. This suggests that the challenge of getting candidates across the doorstep can be addressed; our sector will be able to meet the upskilling challenge needed by its workforce to meet the challenges ahead.

  Additionally, Energy & Utility Skills represents sectors with a higher than average demand for high level, graduate skills, particularly in the STEM subjects, with Water and Electricity having employees with qualifications at level 4/5 at 30% compared to 22% for the whole economy.

  There is also significant evidence of skills gaps in the emerging renewable energy industry, particularly in design, maintenance and installation. Also skills gaps exist within the gas industry among technicians, engineers and supervisors/managers.

  Within the waste management and utility contracting industries, a clear need exists to up-skill the existing workforce in basic, functional and technical skills


  Energy & Utility Skills completed its SSA process in November 2007.

  Our five major skills priorities are being developed and delivered in Wales. A few examples from each of these priorities which will deliver both macro and micro change are outlined below:

    1. Government Policy

    Our employers consider that one of our strategic sector skills solutions is the need to develop a strong, sector-wide influencing position to take to government which supports the strategic skills needs of the sector.

    2. Regulation

    The electricity, upstream gas and water industries are subject to economic and safety-related regulation. The continued focus on driving efficiency and downsizing has had an adverse impact on medium and longer-term investment in people and skills. Currently, these industries have an ageing workforce and long lead-times to replace these essential people who provide critical services and therefore, potentially significant skills shortages may well present themselves in the next five to 15 years.

    3. Competence

    Our employers need competent and productive people. In electricity and gas (both upstream and downstream) there is a real need to review all the qualifications that currently exist and renew them with employer involvement. Across the whole of EU Skills sector footprint, we are attempting to develop a more flexible approach to qualifications that will give our employers a wider range of options in the future. Employer-led, our Sector Qualification Strategy (SQS) is based on National Occupational Standards (NOS), which are benchmarks of competence for specified occupations that employees can be measured against. The SQS will allow skills and knowledge to be recognised and credit matched against those standards. This process has begun in 2008. For more information on the SQS please contact Hal Igarishi at Energy & Utility Skills,

    In Wales, employers have committed to working in collaboration during 2007-08 and 2008-09, investing "in-kind" support to renewing the qualification structure and competence frameworks to meet the needs of their 21st century businesses.

    4. Skills Provision

    In Wales employers are prepared to invest in new people and to up-skill their existing workforce; however, they identified a significant shortage in training provision and capacity. Historically many employers have been forced to seek provision across the border in England. The need to improve provision is therefore clearly demonstrated across all areas of learning in Wales both within Further and Higher Education provision and within the private training provider sector.

    The Welsh Higher Education Institutions have an integral part to play in addressing the changing needs of our industries and in providing flexible learning programmes that meet employers' needs; specifically we are working in collaboration with HEFCW and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) across Wales. These institutions have committed to addressing the collective needs of the "Sustainable Energy" aspect within the sector, with a focus on new technologies and in utilising best practice in work-based learning techniques.

    5. Sector Recruitment & Attractiveness

    Our employer-led research has confirmed it is increasingly difficult for our employers to attract and recruit the correct people into our industries. This problem is exacerbated by an ageing workforce and long lead-times to develop competent individuals. Nationally we have agreed to work with employers, stakeholders and partners to develop and implement a sustainable sector recruitment and attractiveness strategy.


  Energy & Utility Skills' footprint contains a range of diverse employers. Many of the employers within the sector, particularly within the Electricity, Water and Upstream Gas, are the large asset owning companies who work across not one, but sometimes all three of the mainland nations within the UK- for example National Grid, RWEnPower, Wales and West Utilities, Western Power Distribution, Scottish Power. Other large organisations work as contractors and subcontractors into the asset owners, such as United Utilities, Amec and Balfour Beatty.

  Many of these organisations can access little or no provision in Wales. Water contractors currently source training with a private training companies and FE colleges based in England to support their work with Dwr Cymru and while shortages of work based learning assessors are prevalent throughout the UK, these shortages are critical in Wales. There is currently no waste management training offered with the public sector at FE level in Wales. Energy & Utility Skills are currently developing a bid into Welsh Assembly Government which will develop a network of provision across FE and the private sector.

  However, there are examples of Wales providing exemplar provision. Bridgend College, currently hold the contract with RWEnPower to train all the generation apprentices for the Midlands, South and West of England, and Wales. Bridgend College won this contract through a competitive tendering bid.

  EUS are striving to develop consortia arrangements between employers and HE/FE. This is based on collaborative development and delivery of higher skills programmes/solutions. The role of EUS is to facilitate these collaborative arrangements in order to optimise sustainable higher skills provision.

  Whilst recognising the desire for national diversity the cross border challenges include:

    —  Parity on qualifications or at least comparability that is recognisable to employers (eg Foundation Degrees):

    —  The introduction of the Diploma and the inclusion of the PLL into the Welsh Bac is an example of potential areas of confusion for employers.

    —  Any developments in the Work Based Learning Pathway for an employer who works across borders will be difficult, when the YA programme is already offered, and funded and managed differently in England.

    —  Academic credit systems that enable portability of qualifications.

    —  Alignment/integration, simplicity and transparency of funding agency policies. Eg HEFCE/HEFCW, Step up Sector/Workforce Development Fund/Train to Gain.

    —  Funding of apprentice training is a particular example. Employers in the sector have to deal with cross border funding inconsistencies, and employers with their own (excellent) in house systems have, in the past, turned away from government funding because of a heavy burden of bureaucracy which was exacerbated by audit and quality checks carried out by stakeholders from different departments with duplications across the nations. This confusion over funding may well turn employers away from recruiting apprentices.




  1.1  This memorandum is the Government Skills response to the Welsh Affairs Committee letter to Karen Nimmo, Alliance of Sector Skills Councils dated 21 April 2008.


  2.1  Government Skills is the Sector Skills Council for central government and the armed forces. This includes all government departments, their executive agencies and Assembly Government Sponsored Public Bodies (AGSPBs) and the armed forces. This represents an overall footprint of 800,000 staff. In Wales approximately 37,000 staff are employed in the sector. Government Skills was licensed in February 2006.

  2.2  The Skills Strategy for Government (Building Professional Skills for Government—A strategy for delivery) represents the Sector Skills Agreement and is an assessment of skills needs and priorities within the sector. It identifies and articulates the sector's current and further workforce needs so that key stakeholders can take collaborative action to address them. The Skills Strategy for Government is a three year strategy which was approved by the Permanent Secretaries Management Group (PSMG) in January 2008 and was formally launched on 1 April 2008.


  3.1  The Committee has requested written evidence on the following issues:

    —  Student recruitment and retention.

    —  Student finance.

    —  Research funding.

    —  The way in which further and higher education institutes engage with employers on both sides of the border.

  3.2  As the Sector Skills Council for central government, Government Skills has a UK wide remit with representation in all four nations. In accordance with guidance from the Commission for Employment and Skills (and formerly the Sector Skills Development Agency), within Wales, action plans in order to support and implement the Skill Strategy for government have been agreed with all five partner organizations. The five partners (Welsh Assembly Government, Careers Wales, JobCentre Plus, Wales TUC and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales—HEFCW) approved the three year action plans in February 2008.

  3.3  The HEFCW action plan is in the early stages of implementation and as such, at the current time it is not possible for Government Skills to comment on any of the bullet points in the Committee's letter. The skills strategy includes a programme of engagement with the higher and further education sectors. Our objective is to articulate government's future needs as an employer—as they relate to the future and current workforce.

  3.4  As the Strategy is implemented and we gain greater experience of working with higher and further education, we should be better placed to answer some of the Committee's current questions. We look forward to being able to help the Committee further in future.



  1.  SkillsActive is the Sector Skills Council (SSC) for Active Leisure and Learning, covering the sub-sectors of sport and recreation, health and fitness, the outdoors, playwork and camping and caravanning.

  2.  Like all SSCs, SkillsActive operates across the UK and consults with employers to identify skills gaps and shortages and other pertinent issues within the labour market. Through UK-wide employer consultation, SkillsActive develops National Occupational Standards (NOS) for key occupations to ensure that appropriate qualifications and training are available to respond to the needs that are identified by employers.

  3.  SkillsActive believes that Sector Skills Agreements (SSA) provide the basis for a shared agenda between a Sector Skills Council, its employers and providers in Wales. Indeed SSCs can be the main route to ensure that the views of employers can be expressed in a clear and co-ordinated way to support the strategic development of both FE and HE in Wales.

  4.  SkillsActive concluded its SSA in Wales at the end of 2006 and has subsequently developed a partnership agreement with the Welsh Assembly Government and HEFCW which provides the basis for an on-going relationship between the Sector and Welsh providers of both further and higher education. Work is underway in implementing these agreements and there is an emerging partnership approach with individual institutions.


  5.  Active Leisure and Learning contributed £8.6 billion in output to the UK economy in 2004—growth is double that of the UK economy over the last five years.

  6.  SkillsActive's five sub-sectors employed 660,000 in 2007 paid employees in over 36,500 organisations.

  7.  Employment growth had soared in the previous five years—almost four times that of all UK industries.

  8.  The sector comprises of micro organisations (73%) and SMEs, with less than 1% of employers employing over 250 employees.

  9.  Active Leisure and Learning is the largest single sector for volunteering, accounting for 26% of the voluntary workforce.


  10.  The sector is expected to continue outperforming the UK economy until 2014—with output up to £11.9 billion.

  11.  Annual staff turnover is predicted to be around 14%, which combined with growth in employment, will result in at least 1 million job opportunities (paid) between 2004 and 2014.


  12.  There are 27,000 people employed within the sector in Wales in around 2,100 organisations. This accounts for around 4.6% of the UK total.

  13.  Wales has 8% more than its anticipated share of employment in the sector compared to the UK as a whole.

  14.  64% of Welsh employers employ less than 50 people.

  15.  Employment is set to grow to around 30,000 by 2014.

  16.  Sector GVA is £400 million—the largest sector (sport and recreation) produces 50% of that total.


  17.  Almost 1 in 4 "establishments" report a vacancy.

  18.  45% of establishments with a vacancy deemed them hard-to-fill.

  19.  38% of organisations with a hard-to-fill vacancy attributed it to a skills shortage reason.

  20.  15% of employers report a skills gap amongst their existing workforce.

  21.  Skills most commonly cited as being in need of improvement are team working skills, customer handling skills, technical and practical and communication skills. Management, IT and Welsh language skills are also cited by a higher than average proportion of employers.

  22.  Operational/duty managers/assistant managers, play workers and coaches/fitness instructors/personal trainers account for the largest proportion of skills gaps.


  23.  HESA destination data for Welsh HE courses show 39 courses available in the sector in 2003-04 with 31 containing a sport and recreation element, three health and fitness and 13 in the outdoors. There were no HE courses identified in Playwork or the caravan sectors.

  24.  Approximately two thirds (64%) of leavers from Welsh institutions are retained in employment in Wales with one third (32%) working in England.

  25.  Over 1,200 learners were accepted into Sport and Recreation HE courses in 2003-04, a 40% increase since 1999. Approximately two thirds (67%) of those entrants were male.

  26.  More learners studying Sport and Recreation qualifications in Welsh HEIs come from England (50%) than Wales (46%).

  27.  Around two thirds (64%) of leavers from Welsh institutions are retained in employment in Wales.

  28.  Approximately a third of Higher Education leavers in SkillsActive related courses enter employment in the sector.


  29.  Employers regularly report an oversupply of graduates in areas such as sports science and sports development, and that too many HE graduates lack essential vocational elements and "employability skills".

  30.  Employers seek more of a balanced combination between practical and academic modules.

  31.  Employers sometimes believe that graduates have unrealistic employment expectations. Demand for coaching qualifications in the UK has seen huge increases in take up over the last five years.

  32.  Demand in other qualifications such as Sport Development courses, Sport and Recreation Management, Health and Fitness and Outdoors courses have also increased significantly in the last five years.


  34.  SSCs are primarily concerned with ensuring that their sectors have the skilled and qualified workforce that they need to succeed—in terms of business growth, productivity or public service performance. A key focus for partnership with providers of FE and HE is to ensure the supply of graduates with these appropriate skills.

  35.  The transition from education to employment is not always easy. As a Sector we would encourage increased vocational content in academic programmes, based on the Sector's National Occupational Standards (NOS).

  36.  We also recognise that not all HE provision should be vocationally specific and it should be noted that already only one-third of Welsh graduates end up in employment in the Sector. People should be assisted to make an informed choice when entering HE as to the courses with a clear vocational focus—the Foundation Degree label is useful for this. "Graduate Apprenticeships" have also found favour in our Sector, recognising that graduates need support and development time in industry after graduation.

  37.  A second major area of partnership with HE surrounds the capacity of HE to support the technical and scientific research needed by sectors. For us this is more limited than in other sectors such as engineering. However, sports and exercise sciences and psychology underpin high performance in sport and have enabled UWIC to play a lead role in the UK in the preparation of elite athletes.

  38.  Our partnership with Higher Education is also evident in Sector research. For example, we recently concluded an investigation into employability skills gaps in the Sector with UWIC, resulting in the publication of a training provider database geared to meet the identified gaps.

  39.  There are concerns around funding that need to be overcome, for example, a scenario can sometimes emerge whereby a qualification attracts funding in England but not in Wales (or to different levels). Therefore, there needs to be parity in funding across borders and funding regimes need to be closely aligned to sector needs.

  40.  It is both attractive and advantageous for learners if qualifications and training have parity across borders. The labour market is increasingly becoming more mobile across the UK (and Europe), therefore, it is important to ensure that acquired skills are transferable and have a common status. The Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) is the quality assurance mechanism for the health and fitness industry. This provides a framework within the health and fitness sector whereby career progression routes can be mapped across the UK, Europe and on a global level.

  41.  Employers often report that providers of Further Education in Wales are provided with an allocation of learning units at the start of an academic year and are usually capped for growth and development. Therefore, this has resulted in a situation where Further Education Institutions are not able to offer flexible approaches to respond to the needs of employers.

  42.  Wales often has unique training opportunities for which we would be keen to ensure that there is suitable provision offered to students across the UK, for example, the outdoor sector within the Snowdonia National Park area (NW Wales). Focussing upon this example, a situation has emerged where local people are under-represented within the industry. Therefore, SkillsActive has worked with a range of stakeholders in an attempt to develop initiatives that will attract local people into the outdoor sector.


  43.  SkillsActive can provide labour market information, intelligence and skills forecasts for the sector. This data should be shared with both further and higher education institutions across Wales to inform the content of relevant curricula. SkillsActive has recently worked in partnership with the University of Wales Institute Cardiff (UWIC) to identify the specific skills that underpin reported `employability skills' shortages in the areas of team working, customer handling, communication, problem solving and management skills, and specific findings should be used to inform curriculum development or the content of various programmes. This data covers the whole UK and we see no reason why Welsh HEIs should not provide for the wider UK sector market. Our analysis will help this be effective.

  44.  As the standard setting body for the industry, SkillsActive develops, reviews and maintains a set of effective and accessible national occupational standards for the active leisure and learning sector, and has developed frameworks for foundation degrees, modern apprenticeships and work based learning, all of which can be shared with Wales' education institutions who wish to take account of vocational requirements.

  45.  SkillsActive is also building upon the Sector Skills Agreement by developing a Sector Qualification Strategy (SQS) in consultation with partners across Wales. The overall aim of the SQS is to establish a coherent framework of education and training to meet the needs of the active leisure and learning sector—to address the skills requirements of the sector. The SQS will determine the basis of our approval of qualifications and credits onto the emerging Qualification and Credit Framework (in England). However, SSCs will require a consistent level of influence over what is included upon the relevant frameworks across England and Wales.

  46.  The development of Foundation Degrees is seen as a way of delivering a vocational focus and as a sector we would support their development in Wales. These can be delivered flexibly, allowing study alongside employment and are particularly attractive for those seeking access to HE later in their career, supporting their development into managerial positions. Skills That Work For Wales (WAG Skills Strategy) recognises the value of foundation degrees in meeting business needs for higher level qualifications that balance academic study with workplace relevance. We are supportive of the notion that Wales HEIs are free to develop foundation degrees (including through franchise arrangements with FEIs) although understand the WAG view that this should not be at the expense of other provision such as HNCs or HNDs where those courses may have strong employer recognition.

  47.  We would expect Further Education colleges to serve a more local market whilst drawing on provision that meets National (Sector) Standards. In particular, providing for the up-skilling of the existing workforce through flexible and work- based delivery to support more local employment market priorities. We would encourage partnerships between FE and HE in delivery so higher level skills can be developed as part of the flexible FE offer and in turn so that the vocational expertise of FE can be harnessed by HEIs to increase the vocational relevance of courses as seen in the development of Foundation Degrees especially in England.


  48.  SkillsActive are very keen to work in partnership with Wales' providers of both further and higher education institutions in an attempt to address the concept of employability within the active leisure and learning sector, and to have a positive impact upon the skills and productivity challenges that exist within Wales.

  49.  We see no reason why HE provision in Wales should not also serve the UK market. Quality is the key. Use of the Sector national occupations as the basis for course design can ensure UK wide industry applicability. We would be willing to advise on market issues when new provision is contemplated to avoid over-supply.

  50.  FE provision should have a more local priority focus, working within the national credit and qualification provision which will be matched by the SSC against their national standards.

  51.  Employers need to understand provision. They would welcome consistency and simplicity in funding and qualification frameworks. SSCs can help develop this understanding in their Sectors with employers and establishing a clear relationship back to the Sector's standards can support this. SSCs can provide UK currency for the skills system.

2   Funding on post-16 learning per head of the population in Wales is around 5.45% compared with 5.85% England. ibid, p 102 Back

3   Post-16 capital expenditure per head of the population in Wales is around £4.20 compared with £9.95 in England, £16.50 in Northern Ireland and £14 in Scotland. ibid, p 102 Back

4   See: Back

5   Page 7 Paragraph 1.9 Footnote 8 Dearden, L, Reed, H and Van Reened, J (2000) Who Gains when Workers train? Training and Corporate Productivity in a Panel of British Industries, IFS Working Paper No 00/04. Back

6   The Train to Gain offer-a skills brokerage service available at present in England- is not sector specific. Skillset is working with Train to Gain brokers to provide a more sector-relevant offer through the general service which will be more welcome amongst our industries. Back

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2009
Prepared 16 January 2009