Employers angry over training body cold shoulder

The Government has been accused of leaving employers in limbo after
overlooking several major industries for its flagship Sector Skills Council
training bodies.

The public body which grants SSC status, the Sector Skills Development
Agency (SSDA), has also been accused of major delays in reviewing industry bids
for approval.

The SSCs were launched in April to boost productivity and skills across all
sectors, replacing the National Training Organisations, which were considered
too disparate and unwieldy.

Just five further bodies have been approved since the first five
‘trailblazer’ SSCs were appointed in April, and overlooked organisations are
growing frustrated by the slow progress.

Joan Munro, development director at the Employers Organisation for Local
Government, is angry that funding for the NTOs stopped before SSCs for all
sectors were set up.

"We have short-term funding until March but have huge skills issues
which need to be dealt with. We’re very frustrated because it [the SSDA] hasn’t
made up its mind and it doesn’t feel as though it is actively trying to sort
things out," she said.

"You don’t knock a house down until you’ve built a new one."

The former Print and Graphic Communication NTO also failed to gain approval
and chairman John Bambery said: "I’m disgusted at the way things have been
handled. No-one will commit themselves and we’re told the process might take
two years.

"If the Government was trying to run a business like this it would have
been bankrupt ages ago," he added.

Joanne Butcher, chief executive of the publishing NTO, which represents
14,500 businesses worth more than £30bn, said she was astonished that the
sector had missed out.

However Christopher Duff, chief executive of the SSDA denied refusing any
bids and claimed it would take time to get the framework right.

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