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6 December 2006

Leitch reports on his review of UK skills

The final report from Sandy Leitch, commissioned by the Government to undertake an independent review of the UK's long term skills needs, was published yesterday (5 December 2006).

The report further endorses the sector-based approach to skills delivery that has been established with the formation of Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) since 2002. This means construction employers, through ConstructionSkills as the Sector Skills Council for Construction, will have even more say over the development of fit-for-purpose qualifications and decisions over the funding of education and training.

Sir Michael Latham, Chairman of ConstructionSkills, said:

"ConstructionSkills is delighted that Lord Leitch has recognised that giving employers a powerful voice to influence skills training provision is the best way to ensure that the construction industry gets the 'fit for purpose' training and skills development that it needs.

As a leading Sector Skills Council, ConstructionSkills has played a key role in the development of innovative training solutions like the National Skills Academy for Construction, which has been led by employers and backed by Government. Initiatives like these challenge conventional thinking about skills delivery and provide on-site learning for entire project teams so that employers can be sure that new, experienced and future employees are competent and qualified to the standard industry requires.

We are hoping that the Government will endorse today's recommendations and pave the way for employers, aided by their Sector Skills Councils, to gain real influence over the education and skills system. Employers are looking for a deal for a deal, and are prepared to engage more with skills development if the system is more relevant to their needs and ConstructionSkills is looking forward to playing a key role in brokering these deals in the future."

The main recommendations in today’s report are:

  • Increase adult skills across all levels. Progress towards ‘world class’ is best measured by the number of people increasing their attainment. The additional cost of realising our ambition will build up over time to between £3-4 billion per year by 2020.
  • Route all adult vocational skills funding through Train to Gain and Learner Accounts by 2010. On adult skills, streamline the role of the Learning and Skills Council to become a funding body and promoter of provider competition.
  • Strengthen employer voice. Rationalise the existing bodies, strengthen the collective voice and better articulate employer views on skills by creating a new Commission for Employment and Skills, accountable to Government and the Devolved Administrations and responsible for managing the employer voice in the skills system within a framework of individual rights.
  • Increased employer engagement and investment in skills. Reform, re-license and empower Sector Skills Councils (SSCs). Deliver more economically valuable skills by only allowing public funding for vocational qualifications approved by SSCs. Expand skills brokerage services.
  • A new ‘Pledge’ for employers to train all eligible employees up to Level 2 in the workplace. If the improvement rate is insufficient by 2010, introduce a statutory entitlement to workplace training in consultation with employers and unions.
  • SSCs and brokers working to increase employer investment in Level 3, 4 and above qualifications in the workplace. Extend Train to Gain to higher levels: double apprenticeships, improve employer engagement with universities.
  • Increase people’s aspirations and awareness of the value of skills. Create high profile, sustained awareness programmes. Rationalise existing fragmented services and develop a new universal adult careers service, offering a skills MOT.
  • Create a new integrated employment and skills service locally, to increase sustainable employment and progression. A new programme for basic skills improvements in helping disadvantaged people find and stay in work. New programme to improve basic skills. Nationwide network of employment and skill boards.

Val Lowman of Bovis Lend Lease, said:

"Bovis Lend Lease welcomes Lord Leitch's report. Employer-led training is something Bovis has been championing for many years now and we believe this demand led approach is the only way to secure the future growth of our industry. We have been working closely with ConstructionSkills, the Sector Skills Council for construction to develop the National Skills Academy network which truly recognises this approach; we launched the first Academy last week."

Jeremy Galpin of Costain, said:

“ConstructionSkills is making good progress towards a truly employer-led approach to skills training for the construction industry to drive up the standard of industry training, improve productivity and tackle skills shortages which should ensure that the construction industry realises its potential and delivers on a heavy order book, including high profile projects such as the 2012 Olympics.”

Stephen Ratcliffe Chief Executive Construction Confederation, said:

"Construction companies recognise that a well trained, skilled workforce is good for business so we welcome the Leitch Report published today. A more employer-led approach to training and skills is good for employers; it's good for employees, and it's good for UK Plc and we look forward to working with our Sector Skills Council, ConstructionSkills, to ensure innovative training solutions like the National Skills Academy for Construction and Programme-led Apprenticeships are a success. With more incentives and encouragement for employers to train we can expect to see productive private companies which deliver major construction projects to time, quality and cost. "

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