Publishing training in crisis after SSC snub

Training in the publishing industry is in crisis after employers opted to
snub the Government’s Sector Skills Council (SSC) framework.

They have taken the decision after the Publishing National Training
Organisation’s (NTO) bid for Sector Skills Council status was rejected.

The publishing industry has been fighting for SSC status since they were
brought in last March to replace the NTOs and to help employers meet their
sector’s skills needs more effectively through greater funding and expertise.

The Publishing NTO has refused the Government’s offer to lump it in with
other NTOs to create a wider SSC or give it ‘Expert Body’ status. Employers
claim that both moves would give the industry significantly less influence and
funding over the development of staff skills.

Skills development in the industry could now be left to individual
employers, as the Publishing NTO is to fold.

Joanne Butcher, chief executive of the Publishing NTO, believes the sector
has been treated unfairly because the publishing industry is substantially
bigger than some of the sectors already granted SSC status.

Ken Smith, training and development director at Emap Communications, agreed:
"All the work done to improve skills is lost. We will have no funding,
influence or clout. It will create a short-term, commercial view of
development, ignoring the wider long-term training responsibilities."

Keith Brownlie, group HR director at publishing group Informa, said the
Government has misled the sector. "I am angry and upset by the
Government’s decision. The Prime Minister gave us assurances that the sector is
important," he said.

"We were looking to encourage a broader range of skills sets, but it
[the decision] has created a ‘go it alone’ mentality."

By Paul Nelson

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