- Database of Resources
- Important Themes
- Guides for Lecturers
- Events and Workshops
- Teaching Development Projects
- Materials Awareness Projects
Sector Skills Councils are independent, strategic UK-wide organisations. They have responsibility for skills and workforce development of all those employed in their sectors - from professional staff to tradesmen and women, administrative staff, support staff and other ancillary workers. They also cover all sizes of employer - from large firms to micro-businesses and the self employed. Each SSC is an employer-led organisation that actively involves trade unions, professional bodies and other key stakeholders. They replace a network of over 70 National Training Organisations (NTOs). Collectively the SSCs form the Skills for Business Network, which is responsible for tackling the skills and productivity needs of the UK. The Sector Skills Development Agency (SSDA) is responsible for funding, supporting and monitoring the network of Sector Skills Councils. All SSCs are licensed by the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, in consultation with Ministers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Sector Skills Councils have been established to influence how training is delivered in the UK. All SSCs have the same four key goals and each SSC is responsible for dealing with the skills needs within their sector UK-wide. The four key goals are:
For the first time, SSCs give employers direct influence on training policy. Unlike the former National Training Organisations, which were responsible only for apprenticeship training, Sector Skills Councils are looking at education and training at all levels, from apprenticeships to Masters Degrees.
If UK manufacturing is to survive in the face of competition from products manufactured in the developing regions of the world such as India, Asia and China, it will have to be more productive in terms of output, innovative in terms of products and services provided and agile in terms of its response to the customer. This will place demands on the UK workforce, which will only be equipped to meet those demands if skill and knowledge levels are increased. All levels of staff will need to increase their skill levels to meet this challenge. Particular skills that will be required include team working and communication, supervisory and management, product and process innovation.
The SSCs have carried out a review of the skills needs and trends for their industries and are developing strategies to meet those skills needs. This process has been carried out in partnership with the businesses that operate in their sector and has involved four steps:
The output – the programme of agreed interventions - is termed the Sector Skills Agreement and, because it has been developed in partnership with employers, it has their support. It covers all levels of the workforce from school leavers to senior management and seeks to influence Further and Higher Education to ensure that the required skills can be delivered. Most Sector Skills Councils will have a Sector Skills Agreement in place by the end of 2006.
The Sector Skills Councils will be expecting HEIs to develop the skills required in students entering the workplace for the first time. They will also be looking to HEIs to develop the existing workforce by providing suitable Foundation Degrees, Honours Degrees and Masters programmes. In particular, they will be looking for Foundation Degrees and Masters programmes to be formulated to meet the needs of their sector, and may seek out suitable and responsive HEIs to develop bespoke courses. This upskilling of the existing workforce is likely to provide a supply of mature students who wish to study part time or by distance learning.
The impact of SSCs on HEIs is potentially wide ranging:
There are currently 25 SSCs covering all sectors of the economy from textiles to finance and IT. Materials is relevant to those industrial sectors involved in the manufacture of products and those who support the manufacture of products through product design, processing and fabrication, and inspection and repair. We have identified FIVE sector skills councils with an interest in materials, and have established contact with them:
Cogent is the SSC for chemicals, nuclear, oil and gas, petroleum and polymer processing industries. These industries are facing major change and challenge driven by global competition, sustainability, demand for low carbon energy, depleting natural resources and the changing demographics of the UK workforce. They must deliver improved productivity and shift up the value chain if they are to survive.
Cogent has identified the following key strategic themes:
SEMTA is the SSC for science, engineering and manufacturing technologies. Its remit covers a very large and diverse industry sector, including:
The Engineered metals sub-sector includes the foundry industry and the metal processing sector, and the skills needs of this group is looked after by Metskill.
Metskill has identified five key industry drivers:
Proskills is the SSC for the coatings, extractives, glass and glazing, building products and printing industries and therefore has a strong interest in materials technology. Proskills looks at the skills needs of each of its five sub-sectors individually, but common themes emerge:
EU Skills is the SSC for creation and delivery of electricity, fuel for heat, water, the removal of waste water and the waste management sector. In view of their impact on the health, safety and environment of individual consumers, there is a stong need for Higher Education qualifications in the utilities. There is particular interest in materials within the power generation industry, and work elsewhere1 has highlighted the need for the UK to recover, capture and develop the knowledge base of high integrity structural materials for future power generation through the establishment of specialist Masters level courses.
Skillfast-UK covers the apparel, footwear and textiles supply chain, from the processing of raw materials to product manufacture to the after-sales servicing of products.
The supply chain is highly complex, taking a large number of elements from raw material supply through all processing stages to finished goods, as well as ancillary functions such as design, trading, wholesaling, converting and support services. The sector also serves a wide range of consumer and industrial end-use markets.
The largest sub-sector within Skillfast is the manufacture of made-up textiles (including household textiles and soft furnishings) and the manufacture of outerwear. There is also a significant subsector involved with the production and application of technical textiles.
The sector faces strong international competition and its survival will depend on increased productivity and innovation. The aim of the Skillfast qualifications strategy is to improve the learning supply to ensure the workforce possesses the skills that enable them to:
This document looks at Sector Skills Councils, the higher education sector and the benefits of collaboration. It examines how Sector Skills Councils and higher education providers can work together to respond to the needs of employer and industry and meet the demand for higher level skills.
This is a web page on the website of Foundation Degree Forward (fdf.) It sets out the Sector Skills Councils' frameworks for foundation degrees and provides further links.
Other title: Sector Skills Development Agency
A network of UK-wide Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) started in 2002 charged to lead the skills and productivity drive in industry and business sectors as recognised by employers. It brings together employers, trade unions and professional bodies working with government. The Skills for Business network...(more)
This publication QAA 084 07/05 forms part of the QAA's 'Enhancing practice' series. It relates to the 'enhancement theme' of employability for Scotland and covers the role of the Sector Skills Development Agancy, Sector Skills Councils, Sector Skills Alliance Scotland and the Skills for Business Network....(more)
This DVD has been produced as part of the Engage Project, "Facilitating dialogue between employers and engineering, physical sciences and materials academics". The project brought together partners from 13 organisations encompassing higher education, Sector Skills Councils (SSCs), professional...(more)
The Engage Project was a one-year employer engagement project to enable the building of longer term strategic relationships with Sector Skills Councils and to support Higher Education institutions’ response to identified workforce development needs by developing
This is the website of the UKRC, "the Government's lead organisation for the provision of advice, services and policy consultation regarding the under-representation of women in science engineering technology and the built environment (SET)." UKRC work with employers, professional bodies education...(more)