Financial Services Skills Council fails first review

A sector skills council for financial services has been threatened with closure after failing to reach the required standards during a licensing review.

In July last year the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) announced that all 25 sector skills councils would have their licences reviewed to check that they were fully meeting employers’ demands.

The results of the first five reviews, announced yesterday, found the Financial Services Skills Council (FSSC) had weak leadership and employer engagement and required a more strategic remit.

The four other sector skills councils assessed will have their licences renewed.

The report said: “Given the current banking crisis the panel acknowledges the financial services sector must have a strong, credible and respected SSC providing world class strategic influence and leadership on skills. Unfortunately the SSC is not currently able to adequately demonstrate these qualities.

“[The FSSC] is still struggling to establish a clear place in the financial services arena, has not established a clear strategic mandate for employers and still does not carry the confidence of key stakeholders across the UK.”

The FSSC will now undergo a more rigorous second review which will report in the autumn as to what the outcome will be.

If the problems are not rectified the quango could be forced to merge with another skills council or be disbanded, with non-SSC bodies in the sector invited to take on its role and licence.

But the Financial Services Skills Council has rejected the criticisms. Teresa Sayers, chief executive of the skills council, said the commission’s argument that the FSSC was not well-managed was unfounded and its decision not to renew the licence was “mystifying and disappointing”.

Under the terms of the review all 25 SSCs will be assessed on how well they are run and their ability to deliver core products, services and sector-specific solutions to meet employer demands.

The UKCES, launched last year, was asked to relicense sector skills councils after the 2006 Leitch Review clarified the steps necessary to ensure that the UK is capable of offering world class skills to compete on a global scale.

The four SSCs that had their licenses renewed were: Cogent, operating in the chemicals industry; People 1st, operating in the retail sector; Semta, the automative and aerospace SSC; and Skillset, operating in the broadcasting and publishing industry.

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