Trade unionists and employers have joined forces to launch a new project to improve the skills of service sector workers.
The two-year scheme is a joint partnership between the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) and the Business Services Association, which lobbies on behalf of major companies providing outsourced services in the UK.
The project aims to help staff such as typists, messengers and receptionists gain ‘life skills’, such as numeracy and literacy, customer care and basic IT skills. It focuses on staff who are working under contract for government departments and is supported by the DTI’s Strategic Partnership initiative.
Gerry Sutcliffe, minister for employment relations, said: “In an increasingly competitive global economy, improving skills is vital for both business and employees. I hope that this initiative will establish a skills standard which other sectors can follow.”
Jim Hanson, senior national officer at the PCS, said employers who made use of the project would be able to show the government more clearly the skills they could offer when they bid for contracts.
“In two or three years, we hope this will be the standard that is needed if businesses want to bid for a government contract,” he said.