Four industries to set up national skills academies

Four industries – manufacturing, construction, food and drink, and financial services – will be the first to set up National Skills Academies (NSA) to address skills gaps.

Under the scheme, they share £40m of investment from the government and industry to help to create jobs, to tackle skills shortages and to drive up productivity.

The NSAs, which are due to open in September 2006, are being driven by leading employers and will now work with the Learning and Skills Councils (LSC) to develop detailed business plans.

Names such as Bovis Lend Lease, Kier Homes, Northern Foods, Youngs Bluecrest Seafood, Filtronics Components, Caterpillar, Nationwide Building Society and Norwich Union Insurance have committed to leading the successful bids.

David Way, director of skills at the LSC, said NSAs were a direct response to employers and their needs.

“They have put employers in the driving seat in developing high-quality and relevant training programmes for their own sector and the commitment of so many top employers has been impressive,” he said. “This will help the further transformation of the further education sector so that it meets the needs of business more effectively.”

Each of the chosen industries has reported serious difficulties in recruiting enough people to fill jobs:

  • National Employer Skills Survey in 2003 suggested the manufacturing sector currently has about 48,000 vacancies

  • The construction industry needs 88,000 new entrants per year in craft, technical, professional and management roles and estimates it will need 250,000 people skilled to National Vocational Qualification level 2 (equivalent to five good GCSEs) by 2010

  • In the catering industry 1 in 10 employers report skills shortages within their workforce. According to National Employer Skills Survey 2004, current levels of vacancies are 8,600 of which 1,900 are skills shortage vacancies

  • Employers in the financial services sector report they currently have 25,000 vacancies

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