Fashion and textiles skills council Skillfast to close after failing review

Skillfast, the sector skills council (SSC) for fashion and textiles, will close after failing a government review of its performance, while four other skills councils will have their licenses renewed.

Last year the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) announced that all 25 SSCs would have their licenses reviewed to ensure they were meeting employers’ demands.

The government will announce tomorrow that Skillfast will close and its functions will be merged with Skillset, the SSC for creative media.

A spokeswoman for UKCES told Personnel Today: “Skillfast will be closing as a Sector Skills Council but its functions will be merging with Skillset.”

Details about why the SSC has been closed down will be released later today.

In July Personnel Today reported that Skillfast was “incensed” at an initial review of its service and had accused UKCES of failing to adequately assess the SSC.

Meanwhile five other SSCs – including Lifelong Learning, Government Skills, Go Skills, Skills for Logistics and Skills for Care and Development – remain in the assessment phase of the review after initial assessments of their performance revealed problems with the service they provide.

The UKCES spokeswoman added: “[These SSCs] are going for a further assessment and we are hoping to make an announcement in February. Some might close, some might need further assessment.”

But UKCES also announced that Creative and Cultural Skills, Lantra (covering the environmental and land-based sector), Proskills (covering the process and manufacturing sector) and Skillsmart Retail have all been relicensed and will continue to operate.

Both Skillsmart Retail and Lantra were rated good, while Creative and Cultural Skills and Proskills were rated satisfactory.

Peter Mandelson, secretary of state for Business, Innovation and Skills, said: “Employers can be confident that the Sector Skills Councils relicensed today have come through a rigorous assessment and will offer employers the highest quality service in meeting their skills needs.

“The renewal of these licences also gives confidence to the government that each of these SSCs is truly backed by its industry, has the support of employers and is properly equipped to identify the skills needs of its sector.”

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