Education and skills secretary Alan Johnson reveals first 150 organisations to sign up to Leitch skills pledge

Education and skills secretary Alan Johnson has announced the first batch of organisations to sign up to the much hyped Leitch Review of Skills.

More than 150 organisations, including all central government departments, McDonald’s, Sainsbury’s and the police, have made the skills pledge, representing more than 1.7 million employees.

Johnson also announced the chair of the new UK Commission for Employment and Skills. Sir Michael Rake will lead the establishment of the commission, which is expected to become operational in April 2008. The commission will replace two existing bodies, the Sector Skills Development Agency and the National Employment Panel.

Rake is currently serving as international chairman of business services firm KPMG, and will shortly be taking up the post of chairman of BT.

Johnson said: “Skills are vitally important for individuals, their future employability and for the success of businesses throughout the UK. That is why I am so pleased to see so many companies making the skills pledge today. I hope others will follow their lead, helping the UK to meet the challenges set out in Lord Leitch’s Review of Skills.”

Johnson also announced the selection of four further National Skills Academies – employer-led centres of excellence for training – in retail; sport and active leisure; glass manufacturing, coatings, print and building products; and fashion, textiles and jewellery.

The education secretary said: “The National Skills Academies are a key feature of our commitment to raising productivity and giving employers a real stake in skills training. They offer employers, in return for their investment, the opportunity to exercise direct influence over both content and delivery of skills training in their sector. I would like to be the first to congratulate the latest four successful applicants.”

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