A national skills academy for the process industries won approval from the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS).
The academy will be a wholly owned subsidiary of Cogent, the sector skills council for the chemicals, pharmaceuticals, nuclear, oil and gas, petroleum and polymer industries.
It follows the approval of a national skills academy for the nuclear sector in September, joining those already established for construction, manufacturing, financial services and food and drinks manufacturing.
The skills academies are intended to improve the standard of industry training, increase productivity, and tackle skills shortages across the UK.
Data from the process industries reveals that one in three technicians and skilled operators currently hold Level 3 roles, yet less than 20% are qualified to that level.
And within the polymer industry, 40% of the workforce is qualified to Level 1 or less, while only 20% have achieved Level 2 qualification.
David Lammy, minister for skills, said: “I am delighted to officially announce the approval of the National Skills Academy Process Industries. I congratulate the Shadow Board of the National Skills Academy Process Industries, along with Cogent, the sector skills council concerned.
Tony Burke, Unite union assistant general secretary and Cogent board member, said: “This clear investment in the skills of the workforce is vital to the long-term success of the sector and for the workforce.
“We see this as a real opportunity to develop workforce skills in this strategically important sector of the UK economy. The National Skills Academy will create opportunities for employers and employees to increase participation in the skills development in their companies. If the sector is to compete and develop to meet the challenges we all face, skills development must be at the top of everyone’s agenda.”
Joanna Woolf, Cogent chief executive, added: “We have long shared employers’ determination to make the National Skills Academy Process Industries a reality, and we can now move ahead supporting employers right across the sector to upskill their employees so they perform their jobs to world-class standards.”