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Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT This toolkit was commissioned by the TUC from Jo Cutter, a freelance learning and skills consultant

Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

Contents Foreword ................................................................................................... 4






INTRODUCTION............................................................................. 5

What’s in this toolkit? .................................................................................. 5 Who is this toolkit for? ................................................................................. 5 Getting to grips with a new language? ............................................................ 6 How to use this toolkit ................................................................................. 6


Workers want more training.......................................................................... 8 Workers benefit from training ....................................................................... 8 The UK skills challenge – link to productivity ................................................... 8 Skills Training in the UK ............................................................................... 9 The Union role in learning and skills ..............................................................10

WHAT IS A SSC AND WHAT DOES IT DO? .................................... 14

SSC - overview ..........................................................................................14 Why were SSCs set up?...............................................................................16 Where do SSCs fit in the wider picture of Learning and Skills? ..........................18 What are SSCs aiming to achieve? ................................................................20 What do SSCs do? ......................................................................................21 How are SSCs structured and governed? .......................................................26 How are SSCs developed and monitored? ......................................................28 SSC Licensing – via the Skills Alliance ...........................................................29 What funding and resources do SSCs have? ...................................................29 How will SSC success be measured? .............................................................31 How well have SSCs been doing so far? .........................................................31 What is the Skills for Business Network? ........................................................32 What is the SSDA? .....................................................................................32 SSC Details ...............................................................................................33 Timescales for SSA development and delivery ................................................34

SECTOR SKILLS AGREEMENTS ..................................................... 35

What is a sector skills agreement? ................................................................35 What are Sector Skills Agreements for? .........................................................36 Progress on developing SSAs .......................................................................39 Why do we need Sector Skills Agreements? ...................................................40 How are Sector Skills Agreements developed? ................................................41 Unions and sector skills agreements..............................................................45 SSAs - some initial observations and how unions help .....................................49


The trade union role in SSCs – the government’s view .....................................53 Why are unions involved with SSCs? .............................................................53 How are unions involved with SSCs? .............................................................54 The regional picture....................................................................................56


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists





Summary of union activity in working with SSCs .............................................58 Summary of key benefits.............................................................................58 Examples of union SSC activity ....................................................................59 Linking union activity and sector skills agreements..........................................62 Developing the role of ULRs .........................................................................63 The equality and diversity agenda.................................................................64 Young workers and apprenticeships ..............................................................66 Developing the 14-19 curriculum and vocational diplomas................................67 Information and advice for learners ..............................................................68 Supporting adults learners...........................................................................69 National Occupational Standards, National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) and Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs) .......................................................70 Supporting people with Skills for Life needs....................................................71


Lessons learned .........................................................................................72 Challenges faced by unions in working with SSCs............................................74 Solutions to challenges to working with SSCs .................................................75

HOW CAN YOU GET INVOLVED WITH SSCS? ................................ 77

National and regional working ......................................................................77 Other support available ...............................................................................77

ANNEXES ........................................................................................... 78 Annex A: Learning and Skills in Scotland and Wales ........................................79 Annex B: SSDA and SSC contact details ........................................................88 Annex C: TUC Contact Details ......................................................................91 Annex D: Union Board members of SSCs .......................................................92 Annex E: Unions representatives on LSCs, RDAs and Regional Skills Partnerships (RSPs) ......................................................................................................93 Annex E: Unions representatives on LSCs, RDAs and Regional Skills Partnerships (RSPs) ......................................................................................................94 Annex F: GLOSSARY of terms ......................................................................98 Annex G: REFERENCES ............................................................................. 103


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists


Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) are a relatively new policy development but they have very quickly demonstrated their huge potential for driving forward the skills agenda by addressing sectoral priorities. Trade unions have long-standing experience of the skills challenges facing the sectors in which their membership is based and therefore have a natural empathy for a sectoral approach to skills. So it is not too surprising to see that they have been quick to recognise the significance of the sector skills agenda and have positively engaged in the work of SSCs from the very beginning. Unions have always had a direct and positive impact on workforce skills in their sector through the collective bargaining process and the establishment of Union Learning Reps has led to a huge boost in what unions can deliver on this particular agenda. It is therefore clear that the union voice on SSCs has a dual function – to both influence the strategic work of SSCs on all skills policy issues but equally to make a significant practical contribution to boosting the skills of the workforce. This dual role of unions has been especially evident in their involvement with those SSCs taking forward the first Sector Skills Agreements. For example, unions have been influential in pressing the case for strategies to upskill the existing workforce and especially those employees who have received little or no training from their employers in the past. Unions have also championed particular policy issues - such as the equality and diversity agenda - and effectively argued the case for these on both economic and social grounds. At the same time unions have agreed action plans setting out the practical union contribution to meeting the long-term skills objectives in these agreements. And this has led to innovative thinking on how Union Learning Reps and collective agreements can best address skills challenges at the sector level. This toolkit is aimed at all trade unionists with any involvement in the sector skills agenda and it draws heavily on the experiences of those who have been involved with SSCs since their inception. The toolkit is much more than just a guide to SSCs and their functions – it sets out union priorities and also some key challenges, whilst highlighting the range of benefits that unions have gained from their involvement to date. The toolkit is largely designed to enable trade unionists to make an effective contribution on the policy front and also to use the sector skills agenda to further build the union learning agenda. I hope that you find it a useful tool in helping you make the union case for skills in your particular sector.

Brendan Barber General Secretary, TUC 4

Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists


INTRODUCTION What’s in this toolkit?


The toolkit sets out •

background into UK skills issues and union work in this area (Section 2);

What Sector Skills Councils are and what they do (Section 3).

What Sector Skills Agreements are and how unions are contributing to them (Section 4). •

Why and how unions are working with SSCs (Sections 5 and 6).

The benefits that unions have got from working with SSCs to date (Section 6) and also some of the challenges (Section 7).

Some ideas of how you can get involved with the work of SSCs and sources of help for this (Section 8).

Who is this toolkit for? 1.2

The toolkit is for anyone in a union interested in union work on learning and skills. It was originally developed for senior union officials and national officers to help them in understanding the work of SSCs and how best unions can work with SSCs, in particular around trade union priorities on skills.


But developing the union/employee voice in the work of Sector Skills Councils will require input from a range of colleagues, both officers and reps, within and across unions. The Toolkit aims to prompt discussion and action between trade unionists on how unions can best prioritise and take action on this.


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists


This toolkit is currently only available in hard copy and is being circulated in this format to trade union officials who are directly engaged in work with SSCs either as union representatives on SSCs or because they are contributing directly to sector skills activities in their union. However, the full toolkit will be published on the union academy website when this is launched in spring 2006 and it will then be available to all trade unionists with an interest in the sector skills agenda and also to the wider public. The TUC will of course be updating the toolkit on a fairly regular basis and you will be made aware of the procedures for updating your hard copy.


It is also the intention to produce a short glossy version of the toolkit in the near future and this will be disseminated widely across the trade union movement.


You should also be aware that there is already quite a lot of information on the union role in the sector skills agenda on the TUC Learning Services website:

<< >>


If you have any updates on work you are doing with Sector Skills Councils, let the TUC know (see contacts in Annex C) so that this can be shared with the wider union movement.

Getting to grips with a new language? 1.8

The field of learning and skills is like any other. There are many names, organisations, initiatives and phrases used that you might not be familiar with. You are not alone! We give some help with this - there is a glossary of terms at the back (Annex F), whenever there is a phrase or name used that not everyone might be familiar with this is in bold and further detail is contained in the glossary.

How to use this toolkit 1.9

Some of you reading this will already know plenty about how unions are working with SSCs and the wider picture about learning and skills. If so, you will already know much of the material contained in Sections 2, 3 and 4. Other readers will be relatively new to this area of work. 6

Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

If you are new to union work with sector skills councils it might be helpful to look at Sections 2, 3 and 4 to find out more about what SSCs do.

We hope that everyone will be interested in reading more about how unions are working with SSCs, to give you ideas about how you and your union might get involved. This is contained in Sections 5 to 8.

the Annexes have contact details for SSCs, Union Board Members on SSCs and other useful information.


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists




Learning and skills are key to finding a decent job and to moving on, both at work and outside work. We know there is a huge appetite for learning among working people. A recent TUC survey shows that over half of employees (52%) would like their employers to train them in new skills and nearly as many (42%) are also interested in learning outside of work. A large proportion of the people wanting learning to help get a better job are people in unskilled and semiskilled jobsi.


This is why unions have a long tradition of delivering learning for working people and campaigning for a fairer education and training system.

Workers benefit from training 2.3

There is considerable evidence of the link between the amount of education you have, the level of qualifications gained and how this benefits individuals in terms of salary level and the likelihood of being employed. For example, a worker with good GCSEs, ‘A’ levels and a first degree will earn about 66% more than a worker with no qualifications. Training received from your employer brings wage benefits, improved chances of promotion and reduced likelihood of redundancy.ii

The UK skills challenge – link to productivity 2.4

There is also a strong case for more skills and training to help ensure the UK remains competitive in world markets. The UK economy is in a state of transition. A major review undertaken for the DTI concluded that the UK private sector’s ability to compete internationally on price is coming to an end: globalisation has opened up world competition for both goods and services. Improvements in productivity are seen as key in helping to meet these challenges such as these.


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

The UK stock of skills 2.5

There are several factors that underpin improved productivity including innovation, investment and workforce skills. In the UK we have many highly qualified workers, but the number of skilled and semi-skilled workers is well below that in Germany and Franceiii. In the UK, nearly 30% of the workforce does not have a level 2 qualification (the equivalent of five good GCSEs). In Germany, this figure is less than 20% and in France and the US this figure is 15%iv.


It is estimated that up to a fifth of our productivity gap with competitors is due to our lower levels of workforce skillsv. We are also facing competition from new areas. Countries, including India and China, are rapidly developing their skilled workforces. The increasing demand for skills


In addition to the challenge of ensuring that the workforce has the skills needed for current job roles, businesses and employees need to consider the skills needed for the future. For example, the proportion of jobs that require no qualifications is falling: from over a third (38%) of all jobs in 1986 to a quarter (27%) in 2001vi.

Skills training in the UK 2.8

In the UK, those with lower level skills are those least likely to receive training from their employer. 40% of those with a degree level qualification have taken part in training in the past three months, compared to less than 10% of those in work with no qualificationsvii.


There has been on-going criticism of the UK training system, including under-investment by employers in training and a weakness in the training systems that support training for both young people and existing workers.

2.10 There needs to be a much more co-ordinated approach to workforce

training and workforce training needs to be more closely aligned to productivity strategies. This includes the need for employers to invest more in training and for the training system to be able to respond more effectively to what learners and employers want. 2.11 Government Skills policy, as outlined in the Skills Strategyviii sets out

a number of initiatives, including developing Sector Skills Councils, to help address these weaknesses in our skills base. 9

Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

2.12 The development of the Sector Skills Councils, which are required

to have at least one Union board member, provides a great opportunity for unions. Their development means that unions are in a unique position to both influence the strategic direction of skills training in the UK and be part of the solution to delivering better skills training for the UK workforce. Barriers to training for workers 2.13 Employees with few qualifications often lack the confidence or

expectation to take part in learning at work. However, surveys of adults show that nine in ten adults in the UK believe that learning would improve their work and life chances. But, in the same studies, one in four UK adults believes that “learning is not for the likes of me”.ix The main barriers to learning for workers include lack of time, caring responsibilities and the affordability of coursesx.

The union role in learning and skills 2.14 Trade

unions have always campaigned for education for all, recognising it as the way out of poverty in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Unions helped to establish worker’s institutes and bigger learning organisations like the WEA, Ruskin and the National Council of Labour Colleges. The TUC Education Service was established in the 1970s and developed training for union activists delivered through Trade Union Studies Centres.

2.15 During the late 1980s and early 1990s unions began to develop

learning programmes for members, specifically programmes encouraging workers to ‘return to learning’, and following this the concept of union learning representatives (ULRs) was developed by the TUC and its affiliated unions.

2.16 With the return of a Labour Government in 1997, the union role in

workplace learning was further supported and developed, helped by the Union Learning Fund. This helped unions to support the development of ULRs and other initiatives, such as the establishment of workplace learning centres. This drive has led to the setting up of hundreds of workplace learning initiatives attracting thousands of union learners. Unions - added value in training 2.17 Research has clearly shown the benefits that trade unions bring to

their members in terms of greater training opportunities: 10

Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

Overall, union members get more training than non-union members. The ‘learning premium’ of being a union member and getting more training has increased in the past 5 years

In 2005 12,000 learning reps helped nearly 70,000 employees access learning opportunities

2.18 For further reading on what ULRs do and who they are, see the

following (both are available from TUC Learning Services): •

The Quite Revolution: The Rise of the Learning Representative, and

New Faces: The Changing Profile of Union Learning Reps.

2.19 Trade unions are increasingly adding value to their members by

pushing for more equal access to training by developing a collective and strategic approach to union learning. For example, by getting employers to sign up to Learning Agreements that set out the rights of ULRs to fulfil their duties and which sometimes grant some form of paid time off for employees to access union learning. Unions are also working with training providers to help ensure successful delivery of training in the workforce. And they are influencing government and its agencies to improve publicly funded education and training, especially via their role on SSCs.

2.20 There is an increasing recognition that unions can have a positive

impact on their members to help them take up learning opportunities. For example, the Foster Review on the Future of Further Education (2005) noted the ‘powerful role trade unions have developed in promoting training in the workplace’ and it recommends that government continue to support union initiatives to improve skills development including the Union Academy (see below) and ULRsxi.


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

2.21 However, in the UK in recent years there have been limited ways in

which unions can formally influence what employers are doing on vocational and skills training, especially at the sector level. Unlike the situation in other European nations, there are few social partnership structures in the UK that formally bring unions and employers together to develop the dialogue on training in the private sector (however, there continues to be negotiation on training at a national level in the public sector). In the UK unions have no rights to negotiate over training at the sector level. Despite this, and in the absence of a formal framework, unions do work with some employers to develop a learning element in their agreements. For one example, see the national agreement that Amicus has developed with the British Print Industry Federation which includes reference to learning and skillsxii. Greater involvement of unions in partnership working on skills 2.22 Although the UK’s training system is based on a voluntary system,

some key changes that have taken place have brought unions into partnership dialogue with government and employers on skills issues are •

Nationally, the TUC is part of the Skills Alliance (see below).

Sectorally, Sector Skills Councils are required to have at least one union board member

Regionally/locally, unions are represented on a range of skills agencies including Regional Skills Partnerships and Learning and Skills Councils.

At the workplace level, however, there is still no legal backing for unions to negotiate on training. However, consultation and negotiation on training does occur in many voluntary collective agreements.

The Union Academy 2.23 The Union Academy, launching in Spring 2006, will provide •

a more coherent approach by bringing together TUC Learning Services and TUC Education to improve the offer of support to union members, activist and officials


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists


training and support for union officials involved with SSCs and other skills bodies such as the Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) and Learning and Skills Councils (LSCs)xiii.


support to increase union input and added value to other workforce development programmes aimed at increasing employer engagement in training, notably the Train to Gain initiative (see below for details).


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists




Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) are independent organisations, companies limited by guarantee, developed by groups of employers and partners in sectors with an employment base of economic or strategic significance.


SSCs cover the UK and work under a licence issued by the Secretary of State for Education and Skills and the Lifelong Learning Ministers in the devolved administrations of the Scottish Executive and the National Assembly for Wales.


SSCs are given significant responsibility by government to provide influential leadership for strategic targeted action to meet their sector’s workforce development needs. In return they: •

receive a substantial measure of publicly funded support;

have the opportunity for structured discussion with government departments across the UK on issues relevant to skills;

have increased influence with education and training funding and delivery agencies.


In working throughout the UK, SSCs need to take full account of the responsibilities of the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.


SSCs need to meet the standards set for them and achieve a stepchange in performance of their sectors leading to improved skills, productivity and business performance. An example of SSC activity


The actual activities of each SSC will differ, depending upon the funding and resources that they have and the priorities for action identified in their sector. Here is an example of the work of one SSC, Cogent, the SSC that covers the nuclear, oil and gas extraction, chemical manufacturing and petroleum industries.


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

Example of SSC Activity: Cogent

Research and policy team that generates and analyses data on the skills and training needs of the sector and develops the SSC’s Sector Skills Agreement (see Section 4). To ensure training is provided to expected standards through a programme of auditing sector trainers against a set of industry standards. A commercial training team that supplies specialised and sector focused training products and services in the sector. One product is an ‘openlearning system’ for workers in the Petroleum industry, enabling sector workers to take part and complete courses at their own pace and without the need to attended regular classes. An on-line learning/training library enables sector employers and staff to access a wide range of training materials via the internet that operates on a ‘pay-as-you-go’ basis. Cogent develops national occupational standards (NOSs) for the sector. These are statements that set out the competencies needed to carry out a job role effectively and form the basis upon which the content of NVQs/SVQs for the sector are written. NOSs are also used by some HR teams to help them design a range of activities including recruitment and selection criteria, training programmes and appraisal systems. The SSC provides the link between employers wanting to provide Apprenticeships and government funded LSCs that provide funding for the training of people aged 16-24. The SSC is also the body that officially defines what each apprenticeship in its sector should cover, known as the apprenticeship framework. Cogent has worked with FE colleges and universities to develop new courses where gaps exist. Cogent, for example, has been working with colleges in the East Midlands to develop a Foundation Degree in polymer technology. Prior to this course being set up, there was no qualification available between the apprentice level technical certificate and the advanced level Masters Degree. By spotting this gap and then working with colleges to set up a course, the SSC helps to provide new opportunities for workers in the sector to progress their skills development and employment prospects. 3.7

The core activities of SSCs are explained in more detail below.


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

Why were SSCs set up? A short history of sector focused training 3.8

In 1964 the incoming Labour Government developed a coordinating role to vocational training with the introduction of the Industrial Training Act. This established a Central Training Council of six employers and six trade unions and made provision for an Industrial Training Board (ITB) to manage a levy/grant system to prevent employers’ ‘freeriding’ on others’ investment in training. By 1966 13 ITBs covered 7.5 million workers were in existence. Training numbers in manufacturing increased by 15% between 1965 and 1969, and they increased faster in ITB industries xiv . ITB arrangements were dismantled in the 1980s. There are now only 2 ITBs in the UK covering the construction and the engineering construction sectors.


After the ending of the ITB era and before SSCs were set up in 2002, the bodies that carried out similar functions were known as National Training Organisations, or NTOs. The best NTOs worked well with employers, and in some cases unions, to develop skills programmes and national occupational standards that set the benchmark on which vocational qualifications were designed. However, in 2001, a Government review of NTOs highlighted that only a few of the 73 NTOs were delivering positive results, due in a large part to a lack of employer support and inadequate funding.

3.10 Although Sector Skills Councils have a similar remit to NTOs, they

are different in that: •

they have greater resources including a much greater level of funding from government

to gain a licence to operate SSCs must show that they have strong support from the employers in their sector, including Board membership

each Council covers a sector which represents a sufficient proportion of the labour force to give it critical mass. The broad benchmark is 500,000 people.

all SSCs have at least one union Board member.

3.11 SSCs build on and extend the best of the work done by NTOs.

However, the enhanced funding and status means that they are expected to play a more effective role in their sector. 16

Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

Current government policy on industry or sector skills 3.12 The Skills Strategy White Paper, â&#x20AC;&#x153;21st Century Skillsâ&#x20AC;? (2003), and

subsequent policy statements have set out the aims for Sector Skills Councils. Government recognises that although many employers have a strong sense of local association and that regional skills strategies are important, many employers also identify strongly with their sector and supply chain.

3.13 The strategy aims to ensure that the network of SSCs becomes the

authoritative source of sectoral and occupational data and projections of skills needs. Each SSC starts by ensuring that it has a rich, authoritative understanding of the skills and productivity trends in its sector, internationally, nationally and regionally.


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

Where do SSCs fit in the wider picture of learning and skills? 3.14 A key aim of the work of the SSCs is to identify and address the

main gaps in the skills the workforce need to ensure the success of that sector in the UK in 21st Century.

3.15 The diagram overleaf shows the range of organisations involved in

the strategic direction, funding, planning and delivery of skills in England. There are different arrangements that cover Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. See Annex A for details.

3.16 The work of the Sector Skills Councils will drive the way that

government funding is used to pay for or subsidise skills training in priority areas. This means that the work of the SSC will influence the spending by the key agencies that allocate government funding on skills. These include, for example, in England: •

DfES and the Skills Alliance

the Learning and Skills Council

the Regional Development Agencies and the Regional Skills Partnerships

the Higher Education Funding Council for England

Jobcentre Plus.

3.17 The diagram highlights that •

SSCs focus their work at the national level, through developing national sector skills strategies

SSCs also formally work at the regional level, along with other regional partners in the development of regional skills strategies

Many SSCs also work at the local level with individual employers and other organisations. Section 3 looks in further detail at the types of activities that SSCs are involved in

3.18 Unions are in a unique position, as they are involved in the skills

system at all levels; at the national level via the Skills Alliance; at the local/regional level via many of the regional skills bodies such as RDAs and LSCs; and of course at the workplace level.


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

National, regional and local agencies involved in skills development in England National National Skills Alliance*


Investors in People UK

SSCs/ Skills for Business

Small Business Service

UFI/ Learndirect

National Learning & Skills Council



National Jobcentre Plus





Other Skills Alliance Partners

Regional Regional Skills Partnerships


Local Strategic Partnerships

Local Authorities

47 Local LSCs

Jobcentre Plus (50 Districts)

44 Business Links

Schools & Early Years

LEA incl Adult Education

6th Form Colleges

Jobcentre Plus

Other Training Providers

Skills Academies


IAG Partnerships

FE Colleges


Skills Brokers

Specialist Colleges

Regional LSC

Jobcentre Plus

SSCs/ Skills for Business

Sub Regional & local


Employers and Employers Organisations

Trade Unions and Professional Associations



* The Skills Alliance is divided into a Social and Economic Partnership (the 4 government departments and TUC, CBI and SBC) and a Delivery Group. All the organisations in the Delivery Group are not included in this diagram. ** HEFCE is also part of the Regional Skills Partnerships.

Adapted from The Leitch Review. Skills in the UK: The long-term challenge, Interim Report, December 2005.


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

What are SSCs aiming to achieve? 3.19 Ultimately, SSCs aim to achieve •

a reduction of skills gaps anticipation of future needs.





an improvement in productivity, business and public services performance.

increased opportunities to develop and improve the productivity of everyone in the sector’s workforce, including action to address equality.

an improvement in the quality and relevance of publicly funded learning. An example of how SSCs will influence skills funding in England: One example how the work of the SSCs will be influential is the way in which regional agencies will prioritise spending on government funded programmes that support achievement of qualifications at Level 3. The Regional Skills Partnerships (RSPs) have been given the responsibility by government to agree the priorities for their region in relation to Level 3 qualifications in the light of the priorities set out in Sector Skills Agreements. Using the SSA in this way, existing funds available from the LSC, the Regional Development Agency (RDA), European and other budgets to support Level 3 programmes will be focused on the priority areas identified by SSCs.


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

What do SSCs do? 3.20 In addition to driving strategy and policy to improve skills in their

sector, SSCs are also part of the solution to addressing their sector’s skills needs. By working with employers and partners in the sector, SSCs develop training products and services that help fill gaps identified in sector skills training systems. The key activity of SSCs is the development of the sector skills agreements (explained in the next section). But there are other important areas of work that SSCs are charged with, including: • • • • • •

developing National Occupational Standards developing Apprenticeship frameworks development of the 14-19 curriculum & vocational diplomas the development of skills academies the development of sector qualification strategies developing credit and Qualification Frameworks

National Occupational Standards 3.21 National Occupational Standards (NOS) are statements that set

out the competencies needed to carry out a job role effectively. NOSs are developed in consultation with practitioners from the sector and those working in those job roles. Once developed, occupational standards are submitted to the QCA in England and SQA in Scotland. Once approved by these bodies, the NOSs form the basis upon which the content of NVQs/SVQs for the sector are written. Some union colleagues have been working with their SSCs in the project groups established by the SSC to develop the NOSs within their remit. Because NOS form a ready-made, nationally agreed set of competencies, they can be used in the workplace to help develop • • • • • • •

Appraisal schemes Learning and development programmes Definitions of work standards Job descriptions and person specifications Organisational planning Objectives for training Specifications for what teams must achieve.

3.22 A

full directory and supporting information on using National Occupational standards can be found at • 21

Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

Apprenticeship frameworks 3.23 Apprenticeships

provide a structured training programme for employees in a sector, combining the skills needed to work in sectors with general education. This enables individuals to gain wider educational achievement in addition to developing the specific competencies and technical knowledge for the sector.

3.24 England and Wales have agreed a new blueprint for Apprenticeships

and SSCs are tasked with leading on their quality assurance. For details, •

in England, see

in Wales, see

in Scotland see

Developing the 14-19 Curriculum 3.25 The development of the 14-19 curriculum seeks to ensure that

education provision for 14-19 year olds across the UK responds to employment needs. For England, this will be taken forward through the development of Specialist Diplomas alongside GCSEs and A levels. To achieve a Diploma, young people will need to achieve appropriate standards in English and maths, specialised vocational content, relevant GCSEs/A levels and work experience. There will be Diplomas in 14 learning lines and these will available nationally by 2015. Four lines will available by 2008. The government is working to offer more opportunities to young people to learn at work and outside school and aims to continue to broaden the reach of employment-based training through Apprenticeships, which will come within the Diploma framework. One or more SSCs will take the lead in deciding with QCA what should be contained within the 14 specialised learning lines (see Table 7.1). 3.26 For more general information about the development of the 14-19

curriculum in England see •


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

National Skills Academies 3.27 The

government aims to develop employer led National Skills Academies for all the major sectors of the economy which will deliver high quality training, be centres of innovation and creativity for skills training and build networks with a range of other learning providers. The government has not been prescriptive about what form the National Skills Academies or their delivery partnerships will take. Employers are expected to have a key role as sponsors of National Skills Academies, providing strategic leadership and funds for investment. Sponsors, either individually or collectively, are expected to make a contribution of around 50% of the capital costs of starting up a new National Skills Academy. National Skills Academies must be •

proposed by employers with formal endorsement of their Sector Skills Council.

deliverers of learning and training that must be available to the full range of students and not be restricted to particular employers;

delivering training that fits with wider sector priorities backed by clear evidence of skills needs within the sector, including Sector Skills Council/Sector Skills Agreement data where available;

subject to the usual inspection, accountability and audit arrangements that apply to organisations receiving public funds and be able to comply with legislative requirements (e.g. health and safety and child protection where provision is offered for 14-19 year olds).

3.28 Some unions have expressed concerns that public funding to support

the proposed academies will have private benefactors outside of the public FE service, based on an employer-led model. However, it is also noted that unions will have an opportunity to influence the development and governance of skills academies, particularly through their involvement on SSC Boards. To date, a number of unions have been involved in the development of proposals for sector skills academies.


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

Sector qualification strategies 3.29 Sector Qualifications Strategies (SQS) outline current and future

learning and qualifications needs by employers in sectors. SSCs are developing qualification strategies as part of their Sector Skills Agreements (SSAs) process (see Section 4). Through SSAs, SSCs identify skills needs of sectors, analyse the current provision and agree interventions with key partners to improve the match between education and training supply and employment need. The qualifications strategies will be used by the qualifications regulatory authorities of the four home nations and SSCs to influence the way in which awarding body provision develops. Credit and Qualification Frameworks

3.30 SSCs are working with key partners in each of the four UK nations to

influence the overall structure for learning and qualifications. There are already frameworks within which qualifications are developed. These are the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) (in England, Wales and Northern Ireland), the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (Scotland), and the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ).

3.31 However, the qualification frameworks have been too inflexible to

address skills needs of employers and employees. Many learners do not want to take full courses, only the part of a course that matches their learning needs. However, shorter courses covering partial elements of a qualification have not been accredited within the NQF and hence have not attracted public funding. To address this, Wales has already developed the Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales to introduce a national credit system that will recognise partial achievement. England and Northern Ireland are building on this work and developing their own Framework for Achievement. SSCs are working with partners to advise on the appropriate structure of the framework.


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

How are SSCs structured and governed? 3.32 In broad terms, SSCs have the following structure: •

A Board of Management with directors responsible for the overall governance and financial management of the SSC, including at least one union board member

A number of operational teams with staff delivering core functions such as research, policy and services

Advisory panels and working groups engaging key sector partners in for example, the development of the Sector Skills Agreement (SSA), this can include: o Sub-sector groups focusing on the key sub-sectors that make up the SSC’s whole ‘footprint’ o ‘Country’ groups covering Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland o Regional groups o Project or task groups working on, for example, developing/revising occupational standards, qualification strategies etc

3.33 In practice the actual structure and make up of each SSC is slightly

different as the structures reflect the make up of their sector, the approach to UK-wide, national and regional working and the specific programmes and projects that the SSC develops in response to sector needs. The following shows the structure of one SSC, the Financial Services Sector Skills Council (FSSC).


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

FSSC Structure: Committees and Forums Major Employers Forum: a vehicle for the exchange of ideas and cooperative action between the Council and the major employers in the sector. SME Forum: To consider and provide views on workforce development, sector engagement and education and training issues of importance to small firms (SMEs) in the sector. Standards & Accreditation Committee: To be the guardian of occupational, examination and assessment standards in the financial services sector. To set appropriate standards for each sub sector within the national standards framework. Workforce Development Committee: To develop a workforce development and lifelong learning strategy for the sector, ensuring robust labour market information (LMI) and skills data. To develop and implement Business Ethics/Corporate Social Responsibility/Financial inclusion strategies. To influence the development of the 14-19 agenda. To develop and oversee the implementation of a Sector Skills Agreement on behalf of the sector The Four Nations Conference: Representation at the four nations conference is open to all devolved administrations, RDAs, LSCs and other regional/local representative organisations with an interest in financial services Local Employer Forums: For each employer forum there will be an open invitation to practitioners and interested stakeholders within the industry to attend and contribute to the group. Task groups will be held throughout the UK. Nominations & Remuneration Committee: To set the level and structure of compensation for senior executives through delegated authority from the Board. Audit Committee: To monitor the integrity of the financial statements of the Council, reviewing the significant financial reporting judgements and arrangements. To review the companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s internal financial control system and risk management systems.


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

How are SSCs developed and monitored? 3.34 The Sector Skills Councils work to a government standard that sets

out what SSCs are required to do as a minimum. This standard must be met in order for SSCs to obtain their licence to operate from the government. To gain and retain their SSC licence, SSCs must demonstrate the following: •

an employment base of economic strategic significance

the direct backing of key employers and employment interests, including unions

influential employer leadership through SSC Management Board level representation from across the sector and throughout the UK

significant financial contributions from the sector

professional staff and expertise to command the respect and wider involvement of employers

credibility and capability to influence and coordinate action to meet sector skills priorities

capacity to operate at different levels including throughout the UK, at the regional level and with other publicly funded bodies in the sector.

3.35 Within this SSCs mustxv: •

“secure significant support for its work from trades unions, professions, trade associations and other sector organisations”.

3.36 If the SSC can demonstrate these and present its case, the SSC

gains an SSC licence from the government’s Department for Education and Skills. The SSC Licence is valid for 5 years. 3.37 SSCs are monitored by the Sector Skills Development Agency (the



Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

SSC Licensing – via the Skills Alliance 3.38 The TUC is represented on the Skills Alliance and this is the body

that signs off the Sector Skills Agreements developed by the SSCs. 3.39 The Skills Alliance represents a new partnership for skills. It brings

together the key economic and delivery partners who, under the leadership of the Secretary of State for Education and Skills and the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry: •

Work with the Government to drive forward the delivery of its Skills Strategy, ensuring the radical proposals to transform both the skills demand-side and supply-side are carried through and achieve their impact.

Engage employers, trade unions and their representative organisations in taking forward the Strategy.

Monitor progress in implementing the Skills Strategy, including evaluation of the Strategy.

Advise the Government on ways of enhancing the design and effectiveness of the Skills Strategy.

Ensure collaboration between the key agencies in delivering the shared objectives on skills and business support through the new regional structures.

What funding and resources do SSCs have? 3.40 The level of funding for SSCs is considerably higher than that of their

predecessors, the NTOs. Between 2003-2006, a total of £138m of public funding will support the work of SSCs. This is five times more than the funding that was given to the NTOs.

3.41 SSCs receive a contribution of up to £1m a year each from DfES

towards the core costs of: •

developing a forward-looking skills and productivity agenda for the sector.

securing commitment to this agenda from employers, governments, funding agencies and other partners including trade unions


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

promoting employer investment in skills and innovation, career opportunities in the sector and good quality learning and qualifications.

building collaborative sector-based networks to tackle skills needs.

defining and developing key national occupational standards and learning pathways.

reporting regularly on the impact of public and private skills investments on the sector’s performance.

3.42 The government will only meet part of the costs of an effective SSC.

One million pounds will be a maximum core contribution from DfES and this will not necessarily be the amount allocated to support each sector.

3.43 All SSCs need to bring in additional funding from other sources and

have targets for the amount of money they need to generate. This is through •

employer subscriptions and trade association contributions.

developing commercial services in response to evidence of needs expressed by employers and individuals in the sector.

working under contract to government agencies including: o the provision of expertise and consultancy on skills and productivity o the development of national occupational standards and learning frameworks o the promotion of policies and initiatives o the direct provision of training and participation in local, regional or European funded projects.


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

How will SSC success be measured? 3.44 Survey data gathered by the government from employers in 2004

about their training and skills activity provides a baseline (or starting point) against which the success of SSCs will be measured. 3.45 The government expects that by 2008, the SSC network will have

helped to achieve the following: •

10% more private and public service organisations will have introduced higher performance working practices.

skills gaps will be reduced by 30%, skill shortages by 25%.

10% more employees will receive job-related training.

75% of employers will be aware of the Skills for Business Network and at least 75% of those who have dealings with it will be satisfied with the service provided.

all SSCs will have Sector Skills Agreements in place as a means of securing progress on workforce performance and a measurable increase in productivity.

3.46 In addition to monitoring data about employers and their training

activity, the government will also commission evaluation research to review how well SSCs are doing.

How well have SSCs been doing so far? 3.47 It is relatively early days in the development of SSCs as many of the

25 gained their licence to operate in 2004 and some are still in development. But some early research commissioned by the Skills for Business Network, in 2004, showed positive employer views of SSCs. Of those employers who have had dealings with their SSC: •

74% were satisfied with their dealings with their SSC

over 80% reported that their SSC had an impact on skills development

just under 60% stated that their SSC has caused them to change their approach to skills development

over 60% of employers have funded or provided training in the last 12 months (an annual increase of 4 percentage points). 31

Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

What is the Skills for Business Network? 3.48 The Skills for Business Network is the network that brings

together all SSCs and the SSDA

What is the SSDA? 3.49 The

Sector Skills Development Agency (SSDA) develops, monitors, supports and regulates the SSC network. In particular it encourages the development of sound SSCs, ensures action to secure cross-sector collaboration and makes sure essential skills work is undertaken where SSCs are not established. See Annex C for SSDA contact details. The SSDA

helps groups of employers and partners develop proposals to become a SSC.

assesses proposals and advises government ministers on applications for SSC licences.

manages the Department for Education and Skills’ (DfES) contribution to the costs of core SSC work.

monitors SSC performance across the UK.

ensures quality and consistent standards across the network through contract management, benchmarking and sharing best practice.

Cross-sector work 3.50 The SSDA also convenes SSCs to work on activities that cut across

sectors. There are many occupations, functions and key issues that are common to several or all sectors. The initial cross sector work covers four key strands, and work is underway in each of these: Management and Leadership, IT Users, Employability and Sustainability. A report detailing the progress of these projects is available and revised on a monthly basis from the SSDA’s website. One SSC takes the lead responsibility for developing each cross-sector theme. These include • • • • • •

Skills for Life: SSC lead – Asset Skills Mathematics: SSC lead – SEMTA Languages: SSC lead – ConstructionSkills Careers and IAG: SSC lead – Skillset IT/e-skills passport: SSC lead – e-skills basic management model: SSC lead – Skillsfast UK. 32

Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

SSC details Progress in developing SSCs 3.51 There are now 25 licensed SSCs and Annex B shows their contact

details and website addresses. During 2004/05, a group of four SSCs were the first SSCs to work through the process of developing their sector skills agreements (often referred to as SSA pathfinders), which were signed of in 2005. These were • • • •

e-skills UK ConstructionSkills Skillset SEMTA

IT Construction Audiovisual Science, Engineering and Manufacturing technologies

3.52 Six other SSCs are taking forward the second phase of Sector Skills

Agreements (often referred to as Tranche 2 SSAs )and these are due to be signed off by summer 2006: • • • •

SkillsActive Lantra Skills for Logistics Cogent

• Skills for Health • Skillfast UK

Sport and recreation Land-based industries Freight logistics Chemical, nuclear, oil and gas, Petroleum Health Apparel, footwear and textiles

3.53 The 15 other SSCs yet to take forward SSAs are:

• Asset Skills • Automotive Skills • Creative and Cultural Skills • Energy and Utility Skills • Financial Services • GoSkills • Government Skills • Improve • Lifelong Learning UK • People 1st • Proskills • Skills for Care & Development • Skills for Justice • Skillsmart Retail • SummitSkills

Property and facilities management Motor retail Culture Energy and Utilities Finance Passenger transport Government departments/agencies Food and drink Education and Learning Hospitality, leisure, travel, tourism Process and manufacturing Care Justice Retail Building related services 33

Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

Timescales for SSA development and delivery 3.54 The following shows an overview of the timescales for development

of SSCs and their Sector Skills Agreements when this toolkit went to print (please note that these timescales may be revised). Full details of the timetable for the development of each SSC’s Sector Skills Agreement can be found at: •

Timetable for Sector Skills Agreements development and implementation


SSC Development & Licence 2003-2004

Sector Skills Agreement developed By March 05

Tranche 2


By Summer 2006

Tranche 3


By December 2006

Tranche 4


By April 2007

SSA Action Plan Implementation From March 2005 – to March 2008 From Summer 2006 – Summer 2009 From December 2006 to December 2009 From April 2007 to April 2010

3.55 The timetable above shows that much of the analysis and action

planning for SSAs is currently underway and will take place during 2006/07.

There is considerable scope for unions to get involved in the discussion about sector skills priorities and how they can get involved in the delivery of sector skills action plans.


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists


SECTOR SKILLS AGREEMENTS What is a sector skills agreement?


The main mechanism through which SSCs set out sector skills needs and action taken to address them is the Sector Skills Agreement (SSA). SSAs are designed to engage employers and partners at the highest level in systematic analysis and action planning to identify and address the skills required to raise performance. Bringing together sector partners


In the first instance, the Agreement is an agreement brokered by the SSC amongst the employers and partners in its sector, identifying the priorities they want to address and the action they will take to address them. This is an important mechanism for delivering a new partnership on skills between employers, trade unions, individuals and the state and in promoting higher employer investment and engagement in skills. Statement of sector skills needs and priorities


Each sector must assess its own priorities and the best way of meeting them. The Government does not impose any particular approach to designing training approaches that meet the needs of the sector. SSCs are leading the way in promoting voluntary collective action on training through such mechanisms as the pooling of training funds and the specification of sector-wide minimum skills and qualifications requirements. Voluntary or mandatory?


Although much of the focus underpinning the work of SSCs is the voluntary nature of collective action in the sector, there is commitment from the Government that, if a sector agrees to formalise its training funding through a levy system, then they will put the legal framework in place to develop an Industry Training Board for the sector. This is exactly what has happened in the film industry in the UK in 2005. The table below summarises developments that have taken place, led by Skillset, in developing a film training levy and ITB.


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

A new training levy in the Film Industry: Skillset (the SSC for the Audiovisual industry) Working with Skillset, the UK film industry has given its unanimous support to establish a training levy on film production to help train filmmakers of the future. There already was a voluntary UK film training levy in place, the Skills Investment Fund (SIF). This was coordinated by Skillset and involved film production companies contributing 0.5 per cent of their budgets up to a maximum of £39,500. But the industry has agreed to put this on a mandatory basis through the creation of an Industry Training Board. Employers fully support the levy becoming mandatory. It will mean that production companies that do contribute are no longer subsidising those that don't. In future all film financiers will have to include the levy as a budget line item. BECTU, the broadcasting and entertainment union, has been closely involved with Skillset from the very beginning. The union has long been committed to the establishment of a fair and transparent means to support learning and skills development in the sector. The development of a mandatory levy in film production meets this ambition and shows that “real progress can be made when all the social partners work together, with the sponsorship of the Sector Skills Council." The levy will be a small fraction of the cost of a film's production, but will make a real difference in improving the quality and variety of training on offer and secure the investment in skills vital for the future success of the film industry in Britain. It is estimated that by making the levy mandatory an additional £500,000 a year will be raised for investment in training.

What are Sector Skills Agreements for? 4.5

SSCs work at three different levels, with: •

Employers and trade employers and unions addressing skills gaps, contribution to the costs

unions: as an agreement between in the sector to take real action on including how employers will make a of training.

Sector Partners: as an agreement between partners with interests in that sector on how they will carry out the actions needed to meet the priority skills needs of the sector, as stated within the Sector Skills Agreement.


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

Government: The work of the SSC sets out the agreement between the sector and the government and how in return for the action being taken by the employers and other partners in the sector on skills training, the government will respond by supporting the SSC’s goals through public funding and other support.

Influencing skills funding and policy 4.6

The SSA is also the vehicle for the sector getting agreement with government funding bodies on how they will reflect sector priorities in the allocation of public funds. In England this mainly involves the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) and the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). (See Annex A for details of relevant agencies in Scotland and Wales).


Wherever sector partners provide convincing analysis of need and evidence of a real determination to invest their own time and effort in tackling those needs, they have a right to expect that the public sector will reciprocate by reshaping the design and delivery of training.


The Government will also commit to supporting the implementation of SSAs in the following ways: •

it will fund the analytical and development work needed to underpin Agreements, in addition to SSC core funding.

the LSC will reflect Sector Skills Agreements in its annual statement of priorities and business cycle, so that the training and qualifications identified as priorities directly drive the allocation of public funds to colleges and training providers.

The HEFCE will reflect Agreement priorities in the allocation of additional student numbers, particularly for Foundation Degrees; and will support work between SSCs and Higher Education institutions to reform the design of HE programmes.

Sectors developing effective SSAs will be given priority in allocating funds for the new sector Skills Academies.

Where the sector agrees that it wishes to introduce a training levy, the Government will introduce the necessary statutory backing to form an Industry Training Board.


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists


Within the national employer training programme, Train to Gain, brokers will signpost employers to relevant parts of the Agreement.


The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) will work with SSCs to develop Sector Qualification Strategies to rationalise the current array of qualifications and provide a clear ladder of progression within a unitised qualification structure.


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

Progress on developing SSAs 4.9

Four SSCs have now developed SSAs in their sector •

Skillset (audiovisual)

SEMTA (science, engineering and manufacturing technologies)

e-Skills UK (IT-related)


4.10 The following six SSCs have started developing their Agreements

They are scheduled for completion by summer 2006. •

SkillsActive (sport and recreation)

Lantra (land-based industries)

Skills for Logistics (freight logistics)

Cogent (chemical, nuclear, oil and gas, petroleum)

Skills for Health

Skillfast UK (apparel, footwear and textiles).

4.11 Agreements for the remaining sectors will follow in the next phase.

See Section 3 (paragraphs 3.52 – 3.56) for details of the SSA development timetable.

WHERE ARE THE AGREEMENTS HELD? The full text of the Pathfinder SSAs and also the preliminary documents relating to the Tranche 2 SSAs are all available on the SSDA website at:


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

Why do we need Sector Skills Agreements? 4.12 SSAs are needed because the analysis of what is currently happening

in the UK concludes that: •

Overall, the skills that the UK workforce has are not necessarily the skills that UK employers need to be competitive, sometimes referred to as the skills mismatch.

the main reason for this mismatch is that the organisations that fund and deliver skills training (the suppliers of skills training) are unable (for a variety of reasons) to meet the skills needs identified by employers and employees (the demand for skills training).

4.13 In this context, the Sector Skills Agreement are a mechanism to get

those on the demand side (employers and employees) to be involved in a detailed discussion of what skills training is needed. The SSA is then the key mechanism to drive the work of those on the supply side. Most notably, it informs the way LSCs funds colleges and training providers. In the process of developing the SSA it enables the issue of skills to be raised more widely within the sector, helping to bring more employers into the debate and influencing way businesses prioritise skills training within their businesses.

4.14 Government policy on the skills needs of the workforce is directed by

the needs of the wider economy. Government believes that we need more skilled people and more people with higher levels of skills to help ensure national economic growth, increased productivity and higher earnings for individuals. To help achieve this, government believes that more information is needed to: •

help employers make better decisions about their skills needs,

so that providers will offer the ‘right’ sort of provision, and

individuals will make the ‘right’ decisions about the education training they need to help ensure they have the right mix of skills needed for the future.

4.15 Trade Unions are working to ensure that focus is placed in helping

workers develop their employability skills, opportunities for career progression and personal development and that access to training is opened up to all workers.


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

How are Sector Skills Agreements developed? 4.16 Developing Sector Skills Agreements involves a five stage process: •

Stage 1: A sophisticated assessment of each sectors’ skills needs. This should cover the long-term, medium-term and short-term, mapping the drivers of change in the sector over the next five to ten years.

Stage 2: A review of the range, nature and relevance of current training provision across all the levels.

Stage 3: An analysis of the main gaps and weaknesses in workforce development and skills training, leading to a statement of the priorities that need to be addressed.

Stage 4: A review of the scope for collaborative action – engaging employers to invest in skills development to support improved business performance.

Stage 5: A final agreement of how the SSC and employers will work with key partners to secure the necessary supply of training.

4.17 The following flow-chart shows how different parts of the process fit


4.18 We see later in this section that trade unions can be involved in all

stages of the SSA process •

contributing sector skills data to the analysis

undertaking research with union reps and members to feed in collective union view on training and development experiences, especially at the workplace level

reviewing and commenting on the SSCs analysis of priorities

contributing to ideas for action to address priorities

being part of the costed delivery action plans


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

Headline flowchart for Sector Skills Agreement process

STAGE 1 Assessment of current and future skill needs

STAGE 2 Assessment of current provision

STAGE 3 Analysis of gaps and weaknesses – identification of priorities

FIRST SIGN OFF by the sector

Data analysis

In sector discussions with employers, unions and employee reps

First take on sector agenda and priorities for action

Agreement on areas where workable solutions can be jointly developed

Draw on intelligence and employer networks of partner agencies

Full ‘health check’ with delivery agencies and social and economic partners

STAGE 4 Agreeing the scope of collaborative action Detailed planning work with delivery agencies STAGE 5 Developing a costed action plan

FINAL SIGN OFF by SSC, sector, and delivery partners

Escalation of issues as necessary, initially through the Project Team and Board structures


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

4.19 The following table shows examples of the actions that a sector skills

agreement might contain and the role the sector could play in helping to address some of the issues covered below. SECTOR SKILLS AGREEMENT: POSSIBLE AREAS for ACTION Qualifications and skills development

Career Progression routes Developing collective agreements on training and education The education provider network and infrastructure Training delivery models

Information, advice and guidance (IAG) services

Entry routes/recruitment Business support services Equality and Diversity

Action to drive up the relevance and quality of qualifications; key qualifications that a sector wants to target for unitisation; developing 14-19 qualifications, foundation degrees, Skills for Life provision, etc. Making sure the key links between qualifications are made and developing the ladders of progression that the sector actually needs, linking in to likely career progression paths as appropriate. SSAs provide an opportunity for unions to develop dialogue on workplace or sector level collective agreements/bargaining on training and skills. Plus, they offer the opportunity for greater recognition of the role of ULRs For example, looking to develop stronger links between industry and education providers, identifying need for extending the provider base, identifying what can be done to develop greater relevance and quality. Potentially covering issues like time and place of training delivery, such as the relative merits of workplace delivery compared to say college based; ensuring adequate assessor capacity to support the achievement of qualifications, and achieving adequate numbers of high quality work placements. Also to include the relevance and role of e-learning. Looking at the potential to work more closely with the Connexions service to provide sector advice, or working with learndirect to offer specific advice on the provision available across the sector. Exploring how Union Learning Reps can provide information and signpost learners to IAG services Examining what can be done within the sector to take advantage of all available entry routes, potentially including work with FE colleges, HE institutions, and Jobcentre Plus. Potentially taking forward work with Business Links to offer tailored and sector specific services, which might be linked to specific training packages to support business development. Reviewing and developing action that affect equal access to jobs and training.


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

The union role in sector skills agreements 4.20 Much of the language of the guidance given to SSCs by government

and the SSDA focuses on an ‘employer-led’ approach. However, it is recognised that trade unions have a very important role to play in the development of sector skills agreements. This helps ensure that the employee voice is represented and that the union role is incorporated in SSA action plans. For example, the following table shows statements taken from the guidance given by the government to those organisations wanting to develop as an SSCxvi. Government commentary on the role of Unions in Sector Skills Agreements •

“Sector Skills Councils represent employees as well as employers. There is a powerful common interest for both employers and employees in ensuring that together they can secure and develop the skills needed to achieve organisational success”.

“Sector Skills Agreements will need to be developed in close consultation with relevant Trade Unions. This will complement the work that is being done to engage unions in SSC work more generally, for example through Board membership. We are working with the TUC to agree the approach, including links to the Union Learning Fund and how best to engage the rapidly growing network of Union Learning Representatives”.

“These (union) initiatives have already demonstrated just how effective a force unions and employers working together can be in meeting the skills needs of their sectors. This includes examples of employers and unions forming partnerships with colleges to establish on-site learning centres dedicated to addressing priority skills needs”.

“Unions and their learning representatives have a key role to play in raising the profile of training and skills as an investment in organisational success. Union Learning Representatives have proved very effective in encouraging the low skilled to engage in training, as well as supporting those with higher level skills and encouraging continuing professional development. Where appropriate, employers should work in partnership with recognised unions and their Union Learning Representatives. For example, in developing workplace learning agreements and addressing the needs of Skills for Life learners – an area in which a number of unions have developed considerable expertise”.

“Many unions have also built up expertise in the delivery of learndirect and other forms of e-learning and ICT skill developments and it will be important that, where relevant, this helps to inform the development of a sector agreement”.


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

Unions and sector skills agreements 4.21 Unions

have been working closely with their SSCs in the development of sector skills agreements. The four pathfinder agreements were the first to be developed in 2005; these have been the SSAs of SEMTA, E-skills, Skillset and ConstructionSkills. Union contribution to sector skills agreements: data and analysis

4.22 Unions have been actively involved in giving input into the Sector

Skills Agreement development process; this activity has included the following: Union SSC Activity: Developing Sector Skills Agreements

Sharing sector data on employment and skills

UNISON has been sharing sector data for input into several SSAs and considering the need for commissioning extra research

Undertaking sector/member research

Equity has undertaken a census of members as part of a mapping exercise to find out about working patterns and training needs. One of the key messages from those who returned Equityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s member survey is that 76% are interested in receiving training and skills advice from a sector practitioner. Skillset covered all the costs of the survey and made a contribution to the Equity Benevolent Fund for each form returned. AMICUS is undertaking a pilot project to explore how to engage ULRs in providing feedback on their activities that can inform the SSA process.

Commentary on sector skills data analysis

All unions involved to date have been asked to comment on the draft SSA research and analysis undertaken by the SSC.

Ensuring focus on all sector employees

Equity has worked to ensure that the research and analysis undertaken for the Skillset and Creative and Cultural Skills SSCs has a clear focus on the needs of workers with no permanent workplace.


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

Union action in the delivery of Sector Skills Agreements 4.23 Unions not only provide information and commentary on the analysis

of Sector Skills Agreements, they also help to provide part of the solution to tackling skills priorities. This is recognised in the SSAs. Below we show some examples of the ways in which unions are written into the delivery of Sector Skills Agreement priorities. 4.24 In some Pathfinder SSA Action Plans (such as e-skills and SEMTA),

there are specific pages outlining the contribution that specific sector partners will make, including ‘trade union action plans’ that set out the contribution that unions will make to the SSA’s overall priority areas. In other SSAs (e.g Skillset SSA) the actions that unions will take to support action plan priorities are clearly mentioned, although this is incorporated into the range of actions that all partners will be taking forward. Union SSC Activity: Delivery of Sector Skills Agreement Priorities

Specific SSC action plan for union activity

Below we show, as an example, some of the contributions that unions make to sector priorities in the E-skills SSA:

SSA priority

Union action

* Computer Clubs for Girls (CC4G) *Careers Advice

*Union promotion of CC4G via teaching unions and members *ULRs developing their role as providers of careers information to advice *Unions working to secure work placements with employers *Trade Union learning centres to be accredited to deliver the e-skills passport. *Unions will support e-skills research programmes by contributing their own research.

*Undergraduate development *ITQ/e-skills passport *Research

Engaging more employers in investing in training

In the ConstructionSkills SSA unions are seen as part of the wider partnership needed to increase employer (especially smaller employer) investment in skills and training. Union action in this area is part of the SSA action plan.


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

Information Advice and Guidance (IAG)

Supporting Apprenticeships

In the Skillset Action Plan unions are tasked with providing data, intelligence and case studies to help ensure that careers advisors have access to up to date information about working in the sector. This is already happening, for example, Equity is working to develop ‘job fact sheets’ that will be available on the SSC’s website for a wide range of sector specific occupations. The need for apprenticeships is recognised in the Skillset SSA and within this the role that unions need to play to support the development of industry recognised qualifications and frameworks for apprenticeships is highlighted. Proposals includes working with others to develop more flexible apprenticeship programmes in a sector where many workers have no fixed workplace. Unions support the ConstructionSkills’ SSA priority of improving Apprenticeship completions through promoting good practice to employers and supporting apprentices in the workplace.


In many cases unions are committed to working with the SSC and other partners in the development of more relevant qualifications for the sector. This includes help in informing the SSC/QCA in the development of new qualifications.

Union Learning Reps

The way in which ULRs will support SSA action plan depends upon the nature of sector priorities and the existing level of ULR activity in the sector. In the Skillset SSA, for example, it notes that the unions have a ULF funded project to train a further 60 ULRs. The SSA highlights that these ULRs will work within the sector framework for careers advice developed by Skillset. The SEMTA SSA stresses the role of ULRs in supporting the SSC priority of “the right person receiving the right training at the right time”. Action on this will include SEMTA promoting the work of ULRs within the sector and supporting those companies that commit to supporting ULRs.

Equality and Diversity

The SEMTA SSA outlines specific plans for the SSC and unions to work jointly on the development of an Equality and Diversity strategy and to ensure that actions are drawn up to address particular sector issues, such as gender segregation. The ConstructionSkills SSA outlines the union role in supporting the integration of migrant workers into a programme aimed at this group. The union will provide advice on Health and Safety, Language support and workers rights.


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

Unions using Sector Skills Agreements in the workplace 4.25 At the time of writing the four pathfinder Sector Skills Agreements

are still relatively new, and early work is underway to roll-out the action plans. However, some unions are already investigating how to incorporate SSA outcomes into their negotiations on learning and wider employment relations issues at the workplace level as highlighted in the BAE case study (see below). Incorporating the SEMTA SSA into the workplace: the example of BAE Systems

The following summarises the actions taken to date by a group working in the North West to explore how the SEMTA SSA can be implemented at the workplace level in BAE Systems. The DfES and TUC in conjunction with SEMTA and the SSDA have been working with unions represented at the company (AMICUS, Prospect, T&G and GMB) to introduce the SSA to unions and management and agree how the elements relating to aerospace can be taken forward via the collective bargaining process and the role of Union Learning Representatives in the company. Initial workplace meeting with union and SEMTA officials This included: • Discussion of management’s approach to training and skills in the workplace and the involvement of trade unions to date. •

Union reps and officials reviewing the SSA research and analysis; they were happy that this reflected their views on the current state of sector skills shortages and shared the SSA’s vision on where the business needs to be in the short, medium and longer term to compete effectively.

A review of the trade union “deliverables” as described in the SSA .

Agreement on how to take the initiative forward with the unions and employer.

Second event – 1 day training session for ULRs and shop stewards It was agreed that ULRs and Shop Stewards also needed to be involved in discussions about the issues identified at the initial meeting and a one day training session was held for them. DfES and SSDA meeting with management DfES and SSDA subsequently met with BAE management to inform them of the preparation that the unions have been involved in and how it fits with the company’s business plans for their respective sites in the business. There continue to be ongoing negotiations on this particular workplace initiative and further details on progress will be made available in the near future. 48

Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

SSAs - some initial observations and how unions help 4.26 Some initial observations have been made about SSAs. In 2005, the

SSDA commissioned an evaluation of the SSA process that the four Pathfinder SSCs had undertaken. This highlighted some of the strengths and weaknesses of SSAs. The evaluation noted that there had been a strong trade union presence. See SSDA SSA Pathfinder Evaluation Report for full details. Here we highlight these issues and some of the work that is ongoing to address these concerns. Below we look at ways in which unions are part of the solution. Data on employer/employee skills needs

4.27 The value of SSAs lies in getting employers and employees to

influence the skills training market. Yet many employers and employees do not necessarily know what their future skills needs will be, and may find it hard to articulate what they need or want from the skills system. In the same way that employers find it hard to be precise about future skills needs, there is also a lack of clarity about the exact nature and level of the skills needed by ‘UK plc’ to remain economically competitive, and whether the skills needed to meet this challenge will be at Level 2, 3 or higher. 4.28 The

Leitch Review of Skills has been commissioned by the Government in England to undertake a detailed analysis of the skills needed for a successful UK economy in 2020. The interim report notes that even if the Government’s current targets for improving the education and skills are reached, the nation’s human capital will not be world class. The final report will set out what needs to be done, but the interim report points to the need for ‘building on joint responsibility’ and developing the collaboration between government, unions, learners and employers. See Union Input: data on skills needs Union research teams are contributing to the SSA data analysis process. Also, union negotiators and ULRs at the workplace level are in a position to encourage employers to think and articulate in more detail their future skills needs and the mutual advantages of doing this.


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

Integrating national sector skills (SSA) priorities into regional/local partnership planning 4.29 There is a wide range of bodies/agencies involved in the national and

regional skills planning and delivery process. They can often define issues differently and work to different priorities. The way in which the priorities of the SSA are integrated into, and begin to drive priorities within this picture will be critical to the success of SSCs. Union input: integrating SSA priorities into regional/local partnership planning Unions can assist with this as they are in a unique position, being represented on both SSC boards and local/regional agencies such as the Regional Skills Partnerships and LSC Boards. Effective networking between these reps will help to ensure consistency between national and regional strategies. Stronger networking and support for unions is planned as part of the union academy development.

Increasing employer commitment to skills training 4.30 The evaluation of the Pathfinder SSAs notes that the SSA has

produced a ‘new and richer dialogue with employers’, but that this does not necessarily lead to substantive commitment to action by employers across the sector. This is partly because the number of employers involved in shaping the SSA is relatively small (compared to the total number in the sector). However, there have been some significant and major examples of employers coming together to commit funding and support for sector skills programmes.

4.31 The National Employer Training Programme, now branded as

Train to Gain, aims to engage more employers in delivering training. It builds on the success of the Employer Training Pilots trialled since 2002. It is being rolled out in 2006 and offers: •

a brokerage service for employers that will act for employers, assess their training needs, design training packages and source the best provision; guidance for the brokers will include how to work with union reps/ULRs;

employers willing to give employees paid time to train, will get free training for their employees who have Skills for Life needs and/or a first full Level 2 qualification, including enabling some employees to train direct to Level 3 if they are capable of this and the employer agrees; 50

Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists


a wage subsidy will be offered to employers with less than 50 employees that give paid time off to train to employees taking part in Train to Gain.


see LSC Train to Gain design framework and LSC Train to Gain Brokerage details for further details. Union input: increasing employer commitment to skills training

There is considerable scope for unions to work with employers to encourage increased employer commitment to the sector skills priorities and programmes being developed. The Pathfinder SSAs all have action plans that include union activities in the workplace. (Section 5 has more details). The BAE systems example (para 4.25) illustrates how union negotiators and ULRs can start to take the national sector skills agreement and think how this applies to their workplace and their negotiations with employers. Unions were closely involved in the pilot programme that preceded the National Employer Training Programme, now branded as Train to Gain. For details of how unions were influential in these programmes see the TUC report: Time Off to Train, available from TUC Learning Services. This programme has helped to get many employers to train their staff for the first time and unions were particularly influential in helping learners who could only initially access Skills for Life courses, to take part in the programme.

Supporting the supply side to respond 4.32 In order to make the transition to a more demand-led system, some

key challenges need to be addressed to support the supply side (colleges and training providers) to adjust. The Government in England has completed a national review, the Foster Review, to inform this process. The LSC (the national body that manages the public funding of FE colleges and vocational training providers) is also reviewing the way in which it works and supports providers through its Agenda for Change strategy.


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

4.33 The Foster Review: The Foster review has looked in detail at the

future role of the sector, which is expected to play a big part in the Government’s overall Skills Strategy. It concluded that one key imperative is improving the way colleges work with employers and in the workplace. Foster recommends that colleges review how they work with employers and supports the LSC’s Agenda for Change (see below). The Foster review also recommends that Government continues to support union learning activities and ULRs. Finally, Foster also recommends that employers think more systematically about their medium term skills needs. For details of the review and report see 4.34 Agenda for Change is the response from the LSC to the issues raised

in the Skills Strategy. This includes a specific focus on how employers access the skills training that they want. Agenda for Change sets out a blueprint for an overhaul of FE see for details. Union input: supporting the supply side (FE and training providers) to respond Unions and ULRs have been working with FE colleges in a number of ways to develop provision in the workplace that benefits all parties (learners, employers and providers). For example, some colleges have concerns about Health and Safety issues in relation to the increasing number of staff working off-site from the college. Unions, such as NATFHE (soon to be the UCU) have considerable experience in this area and can provide advice to colleges, unions and employers.

The cost of FE provision is rising 4.35 The funding model for FE is also changing for those aged over 19.

Currently, funding for colleges includes an assumption that learners on Level 1-3 courses can be charged up to 27.5% of the cost of the course (courses are free for those on means tested benefits). The Funding model however, is changing and in 2007/8 colleges can charge learners up to 37.5% of the cost of the coursexvii. The cost of FE provision is rising In many workplaces unions and ULRs have been very effective in helping to ensure the costs to individual learners is minimised, often negotiating the delivery of courses that are free to the learner. As people skilled in negotiation, unions have been able to ‘shop around’ for the best deals in provision. Unions and ULRs have also been successful in encouraging employers to pay for all or much of the learning provision developed for members at the workplace. Making the case that the business benefits from the learning undertaken. 52

Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists


HOW AND WHY ARE UNIONS WORKING WITH SSCS? The trade union role in SSCs – the government’s view


The Government’s 2003 Skills White Paperxviii announced SSCs, their remit and function, and clearly stated that SSCs are required to engage trade unions in their structures, including union representation on SSC Boards.

Why are unions involved with SSCs? 5.2

Interviews with union colleagues currently working with SSCs highlights that there are a range of benefits that flow from working with SSCs. Later in this section we look at some of the specific activities and contributions that unions make. Some of the main reasons unions have given are as follows: •

an opportunity for unions to help protect jobs, support UK workers by strengthening the economy through improved productivity and employability

to encourage more employer investment in workforce skills

using Sector Skills Agreement as a tool to help negotiate with employers on training and skills where these arrangements exist, or at least enter into dialogue on skills and training issues. In some cases these have lead to the development of workplace or sector level collective agreements on training and skills

stressing the need for SSAs to clearly analyse and address equality and diversity issues – e.g. tackling gender segregation and racial discrimination and by improving access to training for a more diverse range of workers

focusing on training and skills provides an opportunity to organise and increase union membership

helping to ensure the quality of skills training programmes

building the overall union learning agenda at all levels within unions and bringing the industrial and learning sections of unions together. 53

Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

How are unions involved with SSCs? SSC Board membership 5.3

Annex D shows the current list of union board members on SSC Boards. Membership of SSC Boards involves quarterly meetings that cover matters relating to the governance of the organisation, finance, senior staff appointments and policy and strategy. In addition, Union Board members have a responsibility to ensure that they are aware of the wider views of all unions in the sector and that they have a way of feeding back SSC developments to all the major affiliated unions in the sector.


Clearly, individual Board members may not initially have the capacity to fulfil this networking role and for this reason the TUC has been supporting the development of union networks around each SSC and in particular those that are taking forward Sector Skills Agreements. If you are a Board member and feel that you would like the TUC to support the development of regular meetings of union officials to discuss SSC developments, please contact the TUC directly (see Annex C for contacts). The TUC has been working closely with Board members of all the 10 SSCs taking forward SSAs to ensure that all the relevant unions in each sector are being consulted and that a collective union view is developed as far as possible. However, SSCs are also of course meeting unions on an individual basis to discuss specific sub-sectors and specific issues particularly relevant to their membership in the sector. Other SSC sub-group/working activity


All SSCs have a number of sub-groups, sometimes called strategy or working groups, which support the work of the SSC Board. In many cases these groups undertake work relating to specific sub-sectors.


Trade union officers are increasingly involved in the work of subgroups that might cover the following issues: •

Developing particular parts of the sector skills agreement (e.g. strategies for specific sub-sectors);

Defining and developing National Occupational Standards.

Developing apprenticeship frameworks.


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

Support for unions working with SSCs 5.7

To date the TUC has been working with the DfES and the SSDA to provide the following support for the union contribution to SSCs •

establishing a national Sector Skills Councils Union Network that meets regularly to support the union contribution to SSCs. If you would like to join this network contact the TUC (see Annex C for contacts)

delivering members

supporting and developing the union contribution to the development of SSAs by bringing together all the relevant unions in each sector with appropriate SSC and DfES officials

supporting sector-based union initiatives to look at how the collective bargaining process and the role of ULRs can be developed to take forward key SSA priorities within workplaces

developing the union contribution to the sector skills agenda at the regional level by holding joint seminars with the SSDA to raise awareness among regional union officials and to provide them with networking opportunities with regional SSC/SSDA officials

developing the union contribution to cross-sector priorities and working with the appropriate SSCs leading on these issues, in particular: Skills for Life; IAG and the workplace e-learning agenda

The TUC has developed working agreements with partner agencies about joint working, for example: −

policy and

best practice briefings for Network

National TUC/LSC Protocol. The purpose of the protocol is to set out the shared priorities of the LSC and the TUC and to set out the ways in which they can work effectively together. pdf

Asset Skills and the TUC have developed a joint statement that recognises the value of joint work with unions, especially on how to take forward Skills for Life initiatives: 55

Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

The regional picture Regional level analysis of skills needs 5.8

In some cases the SSA has specific regional plans, for example, SEMTA has developed specific regional plans for skills development in the engineering sector. The regional dimension to the work that unions engage with SSCs on is therefore important as there will be opportunities to feed specific regional issues into the SSA analysis. Regional level planning and funding


Working at the regional level in England will also be very important in relation to the implementation of SSA action plans as the key government agencies that administer public funds in England for skills training have strong regional (and local) structures. SSDA and SSCs are increasingly building their regional remit and are working closely with the Regional Skills Partnerships (RSPs) that have been developed to take forward Skills Strategy priorities the regional level.

5.10 The other key skills agencies involved in the RSPs are the LSCs and

the RDAs. Employers, trade unions and other stakeholders also have an input as do other government agencies (e.g. Jobcentre Plus). See the diagram following paragraph 3.18 for more information. 5.11 Please note that agencies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

often have different priorities and delivery mechanisms (See Annex A for more details).

5.12 The existence of these regional bodies means that the actual impact

of Sector Skills Agreements will be determined by the way these regional bodies take the SSA and use them to shape the priorities for regional skills funding. Union links to regional skills agencies 5.13 Unions are represented on the range of regional skills agencies noted

above and Annex E includes the names of these union representatives. In addition, Annex D includes contact details for TUC Learning Services Coordinators at the TUCâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s regional level.


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

5.14 A number of trade union regional officials, sometimes with the

assistance of regional TUC Learning Services, have been working with the SSDA and SSCs at the regional level. For example, BECTU has had officers involved in Skillsetâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s regional skills panels, which draw together a range of partners from the sector to identify skills issues. These issues are then fed into wider national and regional strategies. 5.15 It will be increasingly important for unions to consider how their

input into the sectors skills agenda at the national level will link into their regional strategies and the skills initiatives that unions are involved with in each region. Section 6 has details of how unions are beginning to tackle this issue.


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists


WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF WORKING WITH SSCS? Summary of union activity in working with SSCs


Core union activity in working with SSCs to date has included: •

SSC Board level involvement, including strategy and planning

providing input to the work of SSCs at sub-board level (e.g. via membership of the range of committees and task groups taking forward specific areas of work that the SSC is engaged in)

sharing data for use in the sector skills agreement process

reviewing and commenting on draft sector skills agreement analysis

discussing with SSCs how ULRs and unions can deliver some of the outcomes in the sector skills agreement action plan

setting up/developing skills training projects that meet the priorities within the sector skills agreements

discussing/negotiating with employers how the Sector Skills Agreement priorities can be addressed at the workplace level.

Summary of key benefits 6.2

The benefits that trade unionists have identified from working with SSCs can be summarised as follows: •

raising profile of unions as part of the solution to the UK’s skills and productivity challenge

working to ensure more and better skills training is available for a wider range of workers

ensuring that employee’s interests are well represented

helping to identify national sector skills priorities that will drive public funding for these priorities

developing more effective links between union learning reps and other parts of the unions (e.g. with union officials that negotiate directly with employers on a range of sectoral issues) 58

Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

developing learning and training services to members and potential members

Examples of union SSC activity 6.3

Below we outline just some examples of how unions are working with SSCs under the following headings: •

SSC Board membership and support

developing links between union learning activity and sector skills agreements

developing the role of ULRs in the workplace

promoting equality and diversity

supporting young workers and apprenticeships

developing the 14-19 curriculum and vocational diplomas

information and advice for learners

supporting adults learners

developing National Occupational Standards that form the basis of National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) and Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs)

supporting people with Literacy and Numeracy (Skills for Life) needs.

We want to know more about how unions are working with SSCs so that we can share this across the network. If you would like to tell us about the work that you are doing with your SSC, please contact the TUC (see Annex C for contacts). For more information about TUC and trade union activities around the sector skills agenda, go to:


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

SSC board membership and support 6.4

The Government has given a commitment that there must be at least one union reprsentative on each SSC board. In some case there are up to three union board members (see Annex D for details).


Unions have been working in a number of ways to ensure that union board members add value to the work of the SSC board and that others in the union are aware of the union board member’s work with the SSC. Examples of union SSC board-level activity includes the following: Union SSC Activity: Support for SSC Boards Supporting the development of the SSC and its Board

Board level membership and support of the work of a range of SSC working groups

A number of union officials have been involved in working with the SSC from the very beginning, including discussing the scope of the SSC footprint. In many cases this has been done in partnership across a number of unions. For example, the TGWU, Community, and GMB have worked closely with those involved in developing Skillsfast-UK. These unions were active in the sector skills organisations that pre-dated SSCs (i.e. NTOs) and played a key role in establishing Skillsfast–UK along with other key stakeholders. NATFHE, for example, has representation on the Board of the SSC for the learning sector (Lifelong Learning UK) but it also has representation on a host of sub groups and project management boards. Skillset, the SSC for audiovisual industry, has Board level membership from BECTU, Equity and the NUJ. BECTU lay members have also been involved in regional SSC ‘skills panel’ meetings that feed information into Skillset’s Sector Skills Agreement.

Encouraging employer engagement

Through existing work with employers and knowledge of those at the forefront of training and development, unions such as Prospect have been involved in encouraging employer engagement in SSC activity.

Ensuring emphasis on employee/learner focused needs

All unions involved in working with SSCs have helped to ensure that the focus on meeting ‘employer-led’ skills needs is balanced with a focus on meeting employee- and learner-led needs. 60

Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

Co-ordinating union SSC activity

The TGWU has 8 senior union officials involved in SSC Board plus many others that contribute to the work of SSC sub-groups. To support the development of this work the union has used ULF money to fund an SSC co-ordinator’s post. This role provides support and information to the SSC Board members, some of whom have not previously been formally involved in Learning and Skills. The Coordinator provides briefings and shares feedback from Board members about their activities to other officers and reps in the union. Other unions with several union officials on different SSC Boards have also developed similar SSC coordinator posts, including Amicus and UNISON.

Developing other board members’ awareness of union learning activities and ULRs

Many people outside trade unions still have little knowledge of the work that unions have been doing in relation to Learning and Skills in the workplace and in local communities. Union board members have been working to develop SSC’s understanding of the work that unions are doing, for example, a union SSC Board member from PCS has given a presentation to her SSC board about the work of ULRs.

Communication within the unions on the work of the SSC and its board

In UNISON the SSC Co-ordinator brings together the work of union officers involved in 6 different SSC Boards and sub-groups. This activity is reported into the union’s policy and campaigns committee structures which oversee the union’s training and education initiatives and policies. One of the results of this activity has been a joint seminar bringing together UNISON ULRs and officials of the Energy and Utility Skills SSC. More details of this seminar is available at:


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

Linking union activity and sector skills agreements 6.6

The BAE Systems example (see paragraph 4.25) shows one approach being taken to translate the union contribution to implementation of the SSA at the workplace level. The table below contains examples of some of the other ways unions are working to make the link between the strategic work done at national sector level and the day-to-day work of union reps and officials. Union SSC Activity: Linking unions activity and SSC work/sector skills agreements Union coordinator role

Some unions have appointed an SSC co-ordinator to not only provide support to those union SSC board members and those working on SSC sub-groups, but also to promote SSC work within the union and develop briefings and policy on how SSC activity and union learning (notably the activities of ULRs) are linked.

Briefing/training ULRs and union learning coordinators about the work of the SSCs

As part of ULR training and/or the training and support for those that co-ordinate ULR activity, unions are introducing briefings and materials that explain the work of the SSCs and the ‘deliverables’ (the things that unions have signed up to do) contained in the SSA action plans.

Briefing national and regional officials about the work of SSCs and engaging ULRs in committee structures

Union officers involved in SSC work have begun to deliver briefings for national and regional officials and to attend union’s national sector committees to explain the remit of SSCs and SSAs. They are also promoting discussion of the implications of SSC work for national/local agreements and how to best involve ULRs in union meetings and structures.

Promoting the work of ULRs and the value of workplace learning

In addition, SSCs such as SEMTA, have committed to running seminars for union officials to help them develop their understanding of the work of the SSC and the SSA. The union SSC Board members of Skillsfast-UK have stressed to the SSC and employers the importance of ULF workplace projects and the ULR role, and the benefits that employers gain from supporting union learning initiatives in the workplace.


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

Developing the role of ULRs 6.7

The specific role that union learning reps play within their union is determined partly by their own circumstance (such as employer support, time off, background in learning etc.) and also the union’s own rules on ULRs. In many unions it is increasingly recognised that the ULR role needs to be more clearly linked into wider union structures. The sector skills agenda has tended to reinforce this trend because it has accentuated the need to link the learning agenda with sectoral negotiations that unions are involved in.


Trade unions recognise that ULRs and all other union officials/reps have a wide range of experience relating to workplace skills and training issues that can help inform the work of the SSC. A key challenge is how to seek, obtain and manage the wealth of information circulating in unions in order to get it to the right person at the right time (e.g. in developing the SSA and in developing effective solutions to meet sector skills priorities). Below are two examples of how unions are developing lines of ‘bottom up and top down’ communication between ULRs, other lay reps, regional officials and national union officialss to help inform the union’s contribution to the work of SSCs. Union SSC Activity: developing the input of ULRs and other union reps ULR communication and feedback

Amicus is undertaking a pilot project to explore how best to obtain feedback from ULRs on key skills issues, with the aim of strengthening the union’s work with SSCs. In the pilot ULRs will be given training and access to IT (laptops and palm pilots) as a means of communicating key issues relating to skills and training to other union representatives.

Interactive website for unionists interested in SSCs

Prospect has developed a website for those trade unionists involved in the SSCs in which Prospect has an interest. The website provides general and specific information on the work of these SSCs. The website is also interactive and users have an opportunity to feed in comments and observations on key topics and upload and download documents. 63

Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

The equality and diversity agenda 6.9

Trade unions have been especially effective at influencing the remit of SSCs to address the equality and diversity agenda, in particular in relation to the early SSAs. The TUC prioritised this issue in its comments on the draft Pathfinder SSAs and this is also an issue which unions and the TUC have prioritised in their detailed discussions with each of the 10 SSCs involved in developing SSAs to date. Some of the key issues which trade unions have been highlighting are as follows: •

Emphasising the need for the analytical phase of the SSA developmental process to involve a rigorous analysis of skill needs in the context of the equality and diversity agenda. For example, by ensuring that labour market information on key groups (such as women, black and minority ethnic employees, disabled workers, older workers etc.) is made available and that this is examined from a number of perspectives (e.g. the local and regional labour market perspective). In addition, SSCs should undertake an overview of any pertinent research that has been undertaken in this area that is of relevance to their particular sector.

To use the detailed analysis to develop a comprehensive strategy to tackle the identified barriers that certain groups of individuals face in accessing employment in the sector or face in accessing opportunities to improve their skills when they are employed in the sector. Unions have stressed the importance of SSCs developing a range of innovative inititiatives in their SSAs to tackle discrimination and promote equal opportunities in order to achieve a ‘step-change’ in the take-up of employment and skills acquisition by under-represented groups. In addition, unions are committed to using their role in the workplace to make a major contribution to the equality and diversity agenda in relation to skills, in particular via the collective bargaining route and through the work of Union Learning Representatives.

Unions have also stressed that due reference be made in each sector to the findings of the Equal Opportunities commission (EOC) Inquiry into Occupational Segregation xix and any other major reviews involving recommendations on taking forward the the equality and diversity agenda at the sectoral level.


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

6.10 The table below provides some examples of union activities to date

in prioritising this agenda with SSCs and in negotiations relating to the development of SSAs.



Union SSC Activity: focus on equality and diversity Tackling gender segregation in the IT sector.

The e-skills SSA action plan includes a major commitment from sector partners to transform the attitude of a generation of girls to take up careers in IT. The Computer Clubs for Girls (CC4G) programme in schools will support up to 3,600 schools across England and involve 150,000 girls. Trade unions involved in the work of e-skills have agreed to promote CC4G by raising awareness through the teaching unions and also by encouraging employers to engage in the initiative.

Developing a specific equality strategy within the sector skills agreement

In the SEMTA sector skills agreement the partner unions (including Amicus, GMB, TGWU, Prospect and CESU) are committed to work with the SSC to develop an equality and diversity strategy for the sector. Specific objectives include improving awareness of gender segregation issues and also significantly increasing access to training and development opportunities for black and minority ethnic employees and women.

Tackling diversity: a union led project

BECTU has been seeking a number of ways to support black and minority ethnic workers in the sector, including a recent motion at TUC Congress supporting a move to develop a Union Diversity Fund to sit alongside the union Capital Modernisation Fund and Union Learning Fund to provide resources to develop union-led initiatives on equality and diversity. Developed with support from the TUC, the SSC and large employers, BECTU’s ‘Move On Up’ project sets up an opportunity for black and minority ethnic workers to meet ‘gatekeepers’ of employment in the broadcasting and entertainment sector, such as commissioning editors and heads of departments. BECTU has accessed ESF funding to roll-out the programme. Working via its black members committee, the union has seconded a member of staff to work full time on the development of ‘Move On Up’ for the next two years.


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

Young workers and apprenticeships 6.11 Trade

Unions have traditionally been closely involved in apprenticeship systems. In recent years the government has made a significant commitment to expanding and improving Apprenticeships, seeking to extend the number of young people entering work via this route and improving the quality of programmes. (For more information about apprenticeships, see paragraph 3.24). Union SSC Activity: Apprenticeships Careers Information for young people

Equity is developing fact sheets about various jobs in the sector. These have been undertaken by an independent researcher who has consulted with Equity members working in all the areas covered by the fact sheets. The fact sheets are aimed mainly at young people who are interested in a career in the sector and the relevant SSC (Skillset) has agreed to post them on its website.

Information for Apprentices and union reps

To help ensure good quality Apprenticeships, a range of support materials have been developed by the TUC and individual unions. These include the following: - Apprenticeships: A Guide for Union negotiators. - Apprenticeships: A Short Guide for Union Safety Reps. - Your Rights as an Apprentice. - Apprenticeships Case Studies: Helping union reps make the case to an employer to take on an Apprentice. (You access copies of these documents via the TUC Learning Services website)

Tackling sector gender segregation â&#x20AC;&#x201C; developing the union role

The findings of the EOCâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s General Formal Investigation into Occupational Segregation (see Research and Statistics > Research by topic > Sex stereotyping in education and work) have been widely welcomed by the trade union movment. The TUC is currently investigating ways of increasing support for unions to target particular employers/sectors in order to tackle gender segregation and Apprenticeships.


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

Developing the 14–19 curriculum and vocational diplomas 6.12 To support the development of a new 14-19 education system for

young people, the government is currently developing a system of vocational diplomas. To achieve a Diploma, young people will need to achieve appropriate standards in English and maths, specialised content relevant to the Diploma line, relevant GCSEs and A levels and work experience. One or more SSCs will take the lead in deciding with QCA what should be contained within the specialised lines and what the detailed requirements should be. (For more information about the 14-19 agenda, see paragraph 3.26).

6.13 The government is also working with employers to offer more

opportunities to young people to learn at work and outside school and aims to continue to broaden the reach of employment-based training through Apprenticeships, which will come within the Diploma framework.

6.14 Unions are concerned that they should have the opportunity to feed

into the development of the new vocational diplomas via their role on SSCs and that TUC policy in this area is promoted (e.g. ensuring a high status vocational route that also delivers a ‘broad education’ to enhance long-term employability for all young people). Union SSC Activity: union role in developing the 14-19 curriculum Developing the 14-19 curriculum: union role in engaging members and employers

In the IT sector, the SSA outlines that the sector has committed to the development of a new 14-19 pathway for IT, the IT Diploma that integrates educational and work-based learning. The SSA workplan includes the contributions on the technical aspects of 14-19 pathway developments to be made by employers, DfES, the LSC, QCA, HEFCE and others. The trade union role is also outlined within this. Unions will promote the IT Diploma to their own members and encourage employers to support and contribute to it.


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

Information and advice for learners 6.15 Receiving impartial and timely advice is a critical aspect of accessing

learning, especially for employees who have not been recently involved in any learning or training. Adults, especially those that have not been involved in education and training before, want to know: Will I be able to cope? Which course is best for me? What courses are available? Which qualifications are useful for me working in this sector?

6.16 Providing information and advice to learners and signposting them to

professional Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) services, appropriate union learning initiatives in the workplace and other learning opportunities is a key role that unions and ULRs are already fulfilling. The sector skills agenda offers a real opportunity to develop the union IAG role further and to integrate it into the action plans of all SSAs.

Union SSC Activity: information for learners Developing a new careers advice service for members

Skillset has been running a successful careers advice service for people working in the technical trades area of the broadcasting and entertainment industry, which was originally established in partnership with BECTU. In 2004 Skillsetâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s remit was widened to include performers for the first time. As a result Equity is now also working with Skillset on this agenda and is using its model framework to develop a network of workers from the sector to train as careers advisors. This is developing a new service for Equity members and the union has secured ULF funding up until March 2007 in order to establish the service and to evaluate its use and impact.

Providing high quality IAG

Many union branches and learning projects have achieved Matrix accreditation, the Quality Standard for IAG. For examples of how unions projects achieving the Matrix Standard have helped learners in a range of sectors, see the following publication (available on the TUC Learning Services website) â&#x20AC;˘

Right Directions: Quality IAG in Union Learning Projects.


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

Supporting adults learners 6.17 Union learning activities support learners in a huge variety of ways,

from undertaking learning needs surveys to directly providing learning resources and brokering learning opportunities. ULRs have already made a real difference to the lives of hundreds of thousands of adult learners by engaging them to take up a wide range of courses in the workplace and also by providing supportive learning environments, especially by establishing workplace union learning centres. ULRs provide on-going support and encouragement for adult learners regardless of their starting point on the learning ladder, helping them to take up and continue learning at a place and pace that suits them best.

6.18 Below are a couple of examples of how unions support ICT based

learning at work.

Union SSC Activity: supporting ICT based learning Developing ICT in Workplace Learning

A TUC development project, e-quality, is exploring the range of learning technologies that really work for learners in the workplace. This review will inform the training and learning services that unions can broker from learning providers and it will also support the ULR role in the workplace. For more information contact Doug Gowan

Accessing on-line learning via learndirect and the Trade Union Hub

Unions have established a network of over 110 learndirect learning centres (coordinated via the Trade Union Hub) to help members log on to learning and access learning at a time and place that suits them. For examples of how unions have developed learndirect provision, see the following TUC publication (available on the TUC Learning Services website). â&#x20AC;˘

Logging Onto Learning: The union contribution to learndirect centres.


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

National Occupational Standards, National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) and Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs) 6.19 Unions support the NVQ/SVQ and national occupational standards

process at both ends: through input into their design and also via their implementation in the workplace. For more detailed information about the SSC role in this particular area, see section 3. Union SSC Activity: NOS, NVQs and SVQs Union input into the design of National Occupational Standards

One of the roles that union representatives play on SSCs is to assist with the development of National Occupational Standards and qualification strategies. This often involves union membership on specific SSC working groups charged with this remit. Trade unionists have a real working knowledge of how these standards and qualifications operate at the workplace level and they are in a position to provide input on the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;realâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; job roles that union members do and the skills that are required in those roles.

Union role in the implementation, take up and completion of NVQs in the workplace.

ULRs in many workplaces are involved in the set up of NVQ programmes and in supporting NVQ learners by encouraging participation in workplace programmes. ULRs also support this role with other contributions, including screening and support to address Skills for Life needs that might prevent a learner from completing their NVQ. For examples of how unions are working to support NVQs see the following TUC publication (available on the TUC Learning Services website) Learning is the Business: How workplace learning boosts company performance.


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

Supporting people with Skills for Life needs 6.20 Unions and ULRs have developed a wide range of Skills for Life

projects. This includes developing learning programmes in the workplace and promoting Skills for Life issues to employers and other partners. Below are a couple of recent examples of work that unions are undertaking at a more strategic level with SSCs and other national and regional partners. Union SSC Activity on Skills for Life issues TUC working with Asset skills, the SSC taking the lead on cross sector work on Skills for Life

TUC Skills for Life Advocates

Promoting success in developing skills

On July 1st 2005 the TUC held a joint seminar with Asset Skills, the Sector Skills Council (SSC) that has lead responsibility for coordinating cross-sector strategies for tackling the Skills for Life agenda. At the seminar the TUC General Secretary, Brendan Barber, and the Chief Executive of Asset Skills, Richard Beamish, launched a joint statement. This highlighted the need for trade unions and SSCs to work in strategic partnership to ensure that all employees with Skills for Life needs have access to good quality opportunities to improve their skills. The statement also highlights the crucial role of Union Learning Reps. The full text of the statement can be found at Skills for Life Advocates are senior trade union officials that can influence national, regional and sectoral policy. They promote Skills for Life as a trade union issue within their own organisation and as part of their wider work. There are currently 50 Advocates from within 23 unions plus all of the Regional Secretaries from each of the six TUC regions. Their work increases the profile of union work on Skills for Life, ensures that this is an issue included in training agendas and persuades employers to invest more in addressing the skills needs of all employees. For further detail see follow the link to Skills for Life/Directory, or contact Ranjit Singh 07766 252 463 The TUC has produced â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Love Learningâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;, a DVD showing the success made by Skills for Life learners supported by unions. Copies are available from the TUC.


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists


WORKING WITH SSCS: CHALLENGES AND SOLUTIONS Lessons learned A real opportunity but a challenge to resource effectively


The work with SSCs provides a considerable challenge for unions. Action on learning and skills forms only a part of the work of officers and lay reps; and union work in this area is increasingly more complex.


The union movement has scope to mobilise and work jointly to benefit members through influencing the learning and skills arena. The development of SSCs presents a significant challenge for unions, not least in finding the resource needed to engage effectively in the wide range of SSC and related learning and skills activities. However the development of SSCs is also a great opportunity for unions. Joint union work on SSCs through cross-union dialogue on training and skills issue within a sector can greatly strengthen the collective union voice on individual SSCs. Ensuring union/ULR role in the workplace is recognised by SSCs


Unions bring many benefits to SSCs, including their unique capacity to promote learning and skills in the workplace via the collective bargaining route and the role of the Union Learning Rep. These roles are not always understood or recognised by employers and some SSC partners. Working with SSCs to develop an understanding of these valuable union functions are helping to ensure that their value and potential is more widely acknowledged. Data gathering


ULRs need to be clearly and effectively linked into their union structures. This can help ensure that the information and understanding that ULRs have of the learning and skills needs of colleagues can be matched to the experience and perspective that union negotiators and regional/national officers have of their sector.


Translating this range of information into intelligence that unions can use to influence national and regional skills strategies is a key challenge, but another real contribution that unions make.


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

Encouraging employer investment in training and skills 7.6

The early criticisms of the first draft SSAs indicated that too much emphasis was placed on how the supply-side (education and training providers) and public sector agencies would respond to the demand for skills training wanted by employers. Unions provide an employee perspective and help ensure SSCs also encourage greater investment in training by employers. Sector skills agreements do not take the place of normal negotiation structures……


It is important to stress that the presence of one or more union officials on the SSC Management Board or working groups does not equate to union agreement on all aspects of the SSC’s work.


Board members need to make clear that they are not on the Board in a representational capacity. Consultation or negotiation between individual employers and unions (on, for example, the implementation of occupational standards, or agreements on training and learning) need to take place in the normal way. ………but SSAs provide a useful tool in developing the dialogue with employers on training


The Sector Skills Agreement does, however, provide an important framework within which discussions with employers about learning and skills can take place. SSAs offer an authoritative analysis of current and future skills issues. SSAs have been endorsed by employers, government and other major partners in the sector, providing a useful tool for unions to use in dialogue on these issues with individual employers.


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

Challenges faced by unions in working with SSCs 7.10 In

reviewing the lessons learned to date, the following were highlighted by union colleagues as the main challenges faced by unions in working with SSCs: •

Being convinced of the value to unions of working with SSCs

Having the resource to get involved in the work of SSCs at national and regional levels

Co-ordinating activity within unions e.g. ‘horizontally’ between senior officers represented on different SSC boards and ‘vertically’ between senior officers, national and regional sector officers and workplace reps

Co-ordinating activity between unions involved in the same SSC

Understanding how best to prioritise union activity and input into the work of SSCs – where do unions add most value?

Contributing data and intelligence on workplace skills – how best to provide information of value to the SSC

Disseminating SSC activity to the rest of the union and linking this work into the activities of lay reps, notably union leaning reps.

For unions representing workers directly employed in the learning and skills sectors, ensuring that the interests of their members are represented and that their training and development needs are fully addressed

7.11 Below we outline solutions being taken by unions to some of these



Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

Solutions to challenges to working with SSCs 7.12 Below are solutions being developed by unions involved in working

with SSCs. These are not necessarily the solutions that suit all unions, but provide an illustration of the ways that some unions have found to address these key issues.

Solutions to address the challenges of working with SSCs

Convincing union colleagues of the value of SSC work

Since the government announced its intention to create SSCs in 2002, activity to date has been largely focused on developmental activities such as getting the SSC network established and taking forward the first sector skills agreements. The actual impact of the SSC network is only just beginning to be seen and this is also the case in relation to the specific benefits that unions gain from their involvement. But as this toolkit highlights, there are immediate and longer-term benefits for unions in engaging with SSCs and the expanding union networks focused on this agenda are beginning to get this message across to the wider union movement. It is therefore important that union officials involved with SSC activity continue to use a variety of means to promote the sector skills agenda within their individual union by sharing their experiences and highlighting opportunities and challenges.

Resourcing SSC work at national and regional levels

Finding time and appropriate officers/reps to engage with SSC activities is a key challenge for most unions. In many cases this has been tackled by unions coming together to coordinate and maximise their input in each sector to the work of the relevant SSC. And unions themselves are also increasingly establishing SSC coordinator posts (often using ULF funding) to ensure that a wide range of officers and reps are contributing to this agenda at the national and regional levels and linking it to the industrial sector agenda.

Co-ordinating activity within unions e.g. horizontally between officers

TGWU, UNISON and Amicus are three unions that have appointed an SSC coordinator to help draw together the work of all their representatives on SSC Boards and working groups. The coordinators help to provide briefings for, and feedback to, these representatives. 75

Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

Contributing data and intelligence on workplace skills

Prospect has developed a website for all trade unionists with an interest in the SSCs in which Prospect has an interest in order to build a collective union input.

Co-ordinating activity ‘vertically’ between Board members, officials and workplace reps

As highlighted above, SSC coordinators in individual unions are playing a vital role in a number of unions. As well as coordinating SSC activities within the union, they are also making the links with national and regional officers with a range of responsibilities that relate to SSC sectors/footprint – e.g. by highlighting the impact on the development of the union learning agenda and the wider industrial relations agenda at the sector level.

Co-ordinating activity between unions in the same SSC ‘footprint’

In a number of cases unions that have interests in the same SSC are able to develop their dialogue on their common interest via a union federation. For example, the Federation of Entertainment Unions (FEU) has been a key mechanism enabling BECTU, Equity and the NUJ to develop their shared contribution to the work of Skillset. However, where no such federation exists, unions and the TUC have been endeavouring to establish union networks to fulfil this function, in particular around the SSCs that are taking forward the first SSAs.

Prioritising union activity: where do unions add most value?

One way to address the problem of resourcing the requirements of SSC working is to focus on priority activities; areas where the union can add most value to the work of the SSC, and activities of the SSC that can add the most value to the work of the union. There is no fixed formula for this as the interests of each union and focus of each SSC will vary. We suggest that each union reviews the discussion and areas for action highlighted in Sections 5 and 6 of this guide and prioritise the activity that your union should be involved in.


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists


HOW CAN YOU GET INVOLVED WITH SSCS? National and regional working


If you wish to engage in the sector skills agenda, you should first contact the official in your union at the national or regional level that has responsibility for this. It may be the case that your union has Union Board members on the relevant SSC and in that case you may want to contact this individual (see Annex D for details). If you have some degree of responsibility for sector skills in your union and you wish to get involved in a particular SSC, you should contact the Union Board members and ask what union networking arrangements are in place. You should also contact the TUC at the national and/or regional level.


The TUC coordinates a SSC Union Network aimed at all officials with some involvement in sector skills at the national level and is also looking at developing regional networks in the future (see below for more details). For more information about who to contact at the TUC at the national and regional levels, see Annex C.


You should also consult a new website being developed by Prospect which provides information and opportunities to inform the collective union contribution to those SSCs which Prospect are directly involved in along with a range of other unions.


You should also talk to colleagues in your union about how to develop the dialogue with SSC board members who represent your sector but who are from a different union.

Other support available 8.5

The SSCs and the SSDA: see Annex B for these contact details.


More general information about Government policy on Skills can be found at •

England: DfES website

Scotland: Scottish Executive Website

Wales: National Assembly for Wales’ website

Northern Ireland:


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists


In the Annexes we show •

Annex A: Learning and skills in Scotland and Wales

Annex B: Contact details for SSCs and the SSDA

Annex C: TUC contact details

Annex D: Details of Union Board members on SSCs

Annex E: Union representatives on RDAs, LSCs and RSPs

Annex F: Glossary of terms

Annex G: References


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

Annex A: learning and skills in Scotland and Wales Introduction Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) are licensed to operate by the Secretary of State for Education and Skills and approved by governments across the UK. They aim to address the skills and productivity needs of their sector throughout the UK. In developing their activities, and most notably their plans for action contained in their Sector Skills Agreements, SSCs must take into account the specific context in each nation. Here we outline some of the key issues that SSCs are considering when developing their work in Wales and Scotland. The key things to note are â&#x2C6;&#x2019;

Each home nation has its own set of government agencies and supporting bodies that work in the area of education and training.


Each home nation also has its own education, skills and economic development strategies. These strategies drive the way in which education and training organisations work and focus their activities; this provides a specific national context in which SSC activity takes place in each home nation.


There are project Boards in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland that bring together national partners in these countries to help ensure that SSAs effectively cover the UK.

This means, for example, that the data analysis that SSCs undertake when developing their Sector Skills Agreements will need to review data and skills issues in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. SSA action plans need to consider how the overall sector priorities identified in the SSA can best be delivered in each home nation, given the policy context in each nation and the different institutions that they will need to work with. The SSDA has developed guidance and Terms of Reference for activity in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Details are available from the SSDA website

Unions and the UK wide agenda Many unions have a UK wide remit. The TUC covers England and Wales with the Wales TUC working in Wales. The Scottish TUC (STUC) covers Scotland. The Wales TUC: The Wales TUC was established in 1974. It is an integral part of the TUC and was set up to ensure that the role of the TUC is effectively undertaken in Wales. The Wales TUC seeks to work with and make representations to other organisations at an all-Wales level. A major role is to co-ordinate the trade union approach to the National Assembly for Wales and ensure that the interests of Wales' half a million trade unionists are properly represented in the whole range of 79

Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

Assembly decision making. Wales TUC policies are discussed and agreed at its Annual Conference each Spring, to which every affiliated unions can send delegates. For further information on Wales TUC functions, latest events and links, see the bilingual website at: The STUC is Scotland’s Trade Union centre. The STUC represents around 630,000 trade unionists, the members of 46 affiliated trade unions. Since 1999, much of its campaigning work has focussed on influencing the policies of the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Executive, in support of STUC key priorities. In 2002 the STUC agreed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Scottish Executive, which outlines a formal mechanism for on-going dialogue on shared priorities for economic development, public sector improvement and social partnership. The STUC also seeks to influence local government in Scotland, the government at Westminster and the European Union. Where appropriate STUC works with other trade union centres across the UK and beyond. The STUC Lifelong Learning Unit works with unions, employers, government and a range of other bodies to help unions give workers access to training and development opportunities. It provides assistance to unions on health and safety issues and on ensuring equal pay between men and women. For further information, go to:

SSC activity in Scotland Scottish Ministers and the Scottish Executive have committed to participating in the development of Sector Skills Agreements. In Scotland the Sector Skills Agreements Scottish Project Board has responsibility for the overall development and delivery of the Sector Skills Agreements Project. The STUC is represented on the Project Board. The Project Board’s work includes developing the SSA specification, steering SSCs in the implementation and wider roll-out of SSAs. The Project Board has issued specific guidance for SSCs about developing their SSAs in Scotland. Details can be found at The Scottish Executive represents the Board on the UK Sector Skills Policy Forum Working Group. This group co-ordinates the overarching UK SSA Project Plan, and is made up of members from departments with responsibility for skills in each of the four nations; the SSDA and the DTI (as SSDA co-sponsor).

Strategic context in Scotland There are three key strategies in Scotland that provide the wider context in which SSAs need to consider action in Scotland. These documents can be found on the Scottish Executive’s website. Life through Learning; Learning through Life. This sets out the following five goals: −

A Scotland where people have the confidence, enterprise, knowledge, creativity and skills they need to participate in economic, social and civic life

A Scotland where people demand and providers deliver a high quality learning experience 80

Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

A Scotland where people’s knowledge and skills are recognised, used and developed to best effect in their workplace

A Scotland where people are given the information, guidance and support they need to make effective learning decisions and transitions

A Scotland where people have the chance to learn, irrespective of their background or current personal circumstances

A Smart Successful Scotland which sets out the following vision for Scotland: −

Growing businesses: Scotland: a fast learning, high earning nation

Global connections: Scotland: a globally connected nation

Learning and skills: Every Scot ready for tomorrow’s jobs

The Framework for Economic Development in Scotland. This strategy focuses on policy for enterprise support and transportation systems to underpin economic development. It also makes reference to the reduction of social deprivation and improved health through focussing on the opportunities, access and capacity of all people to participate in economic activity. Finally, this strategy stresses the Scottish Executive’s commitment to strengthening the basic education system better to equip children for the demands of the global economy, especially through promoting the skills needed for lifelong learning and the use of ICT.

Education and training organisations in Scotland Scottish Funding Councils for Further and Higher Education The Scottish Higher Education Funding Council (SHEFC) and the Scottish Further Education Funding Council (SFEFC) are the Non-Departmental Public Bodies responsible for funding 20 higher education institutions and 45 further education colleges in Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Executive. Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Scottish Enterprise are Scotland’s economic development agencies, central to the delivery of A Smart Successful Scotland. They prepare, promote, assist and undertake measures for economic and social development and aim to enhance skills and capacities relevant to employment in the area and assist individuals to establish themselves as self-employed. The Network delivers its services through a network of Local Enterprise Companies (LECs) that fund the following provision: −



Adult Training for Work

Get Ready for Work 81

Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

Scottish Qualifications Authority - Accreditation Unit −

approves suitable organisations as awarding bodies for Scottish Vocational Qualifications

accredits Scottish Vocational Qualifications

conducts audits of awarding bodies to ensure that the SVQs are delivered in accordance with our criteria

works jointly with QCA to manage the national occupational standards (NOS) programme

Awarding Bodies The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) is the national body in Scotland responsible for the development of qualifications for schools, further education colleges and for companies and other training providers in Scotland. It develops, assesses, quality assures and awards qualifications which include: −

Standard Grades - for the S3 and S4 school population

National Units, National Courses, and Scottish Group Awards at Access, Intermediate 1, Intermediate 2, Higher and Advanced Higher level and Scottish Progression Awards - aimed primarily at the school and further education population

Higher National Units and Higher National Certificates and Diplomas and Professional Development Awards – aimed primarily for the FE sector

Scottish Vocational Qualifications and their component units, and other workplace-assessed qualifications - for the further education, training provider and employer sectors

Other Awarding Bodies in Scotland There are many other awarding bodies (both general and sector specific) which operate in Scotland, offering a range of qualifications. Aside from SQA, the most active SVQ awarding bodies in Scotland, in terms of certificates issued, are: −

City and Guilds

EMTA Awards Ltd (EAL)

Education Development International (EDI)

Association of Accounting Technicians

Futureskills Scotland (FS) is part of Scottish Enterprise and Highlands & Islands Enterprise. Futureskills Scotland has a Scotland-wide remit to: −

analyse the Scottish labour market to inform policy making


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

improve the availability, quality and consistency of labour market information and intelligence across Scotland

work closely with Careers Scotland to provide the organisation and its clients with labour market information

Futureskills is committed to working with SSCs and it has developed and contributes to the following key resources which can provide data, information and intelligence for use by Sector Skills Councils. These resources are easily accessible by SSCs who can use the information they contain about Scotland to develop their own more focused research to support Sector Skills Agreements. Futureskills Scotland has developed Research Online to provide free, instant access to a wide range of labour market intelligence in the UK. This resource contains around 2000 reports which are regularly updated to capture new material. It is regarded by many organisations in Scotland as the principal source of labour market intelligence. The data, information and intelligence referred to above can be accessed on the following websites: learndirect Scotland The Scottish University for Industry (SufI) was established by Ministers in 2000. It provides a range of services, funded by the Scottish Executive and other partners, under the brand name learndirect Scotland. It aims to support employability and social inclusion for individuals and competitiveness for companies by: −

stimulating demand for lifelong learning by businesses and individuals

providing high quality information and advisory services founded on an extensive national learning opportunities database

improving access through the development and support of a network of learndirect Scotland branded learning centres

developing capacity by providing a range of services to assist existing learning providers in addressing and growing the changing learning market

stimulating new approaches to engaging learners and delivering learning.

learndirect Scotland runs the national free helpline for individuals (0808 100 9000) and the national training advice line (08456 000 111) for SMEs, offering advice and information on learning opportunities held on the national learning opportunities database. For more information, visit and


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

Careers Scotland was formed in March 2002 and is part of Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise. Careers Scotland’s services and products are for people of all ages and focus on the following: −

provision of career planning and supporting services

development of flexible and progressive career-related learning programmes

provision and development of high quality employability services and products

supporting employers in the recruitment and development of their work force

providing additional, targeted support for individual customers, who face the greatest barriers to employability, and supporting them into positive outcomes Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework was developed by the Scottish Executive, QAA, SQA and Universities Scotland (the joint development partners). The framework will show how all the most commonly used and accessed qualifications in Scotland relate in terms of their level of difficulty and their size (shown as the number of SCQF credit points that they attract). This will allow stakeholders and SSCs to see: −

where any qualification sits in the hierarchy of levels

how different qualifications compare with each other in terms of these levels

the amount of learning that is involved

The SCQF has 12 levels and more details on the levels, the framework and the process by which qualifications are credit rated in Scotland can be found at

SSC activity in Wales Welsh Ministers and the National Assembly for Wales have committed to participating in the development of Sector Skills Agreements. An SSA Project Board has been established in Wales that includes the SSDA, ELWa, Welsh Assembly Government, Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW), Jobcentre Plus, Welsh Development Agency (WDA), Qualifications, Curriculum and Assessment Authority for Wales (ACCAC), Careers Wales and the Wales TUC as well as those SSCs drawing up SSAs. The Project Board seeks to ensure the effective development of the SSA infrastructure in Wales. The Terms of Reference for the Sector Skill Agreement Project Board in Wales cover responsibility and authority for the overall development and delivery of the SSAs Project in Wales. This includes: −

developing a policy specification and guidance for Wales, taking account of the UK context.

steering Pathfinders, Tranche II SSCs and those which follow.

providing support for the implementation of SSAs and wider roll out.


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

The Board will make recommendations on SSAs through the SSDA and ELWa and these will be passed to the Welsh Assembly Government and the Minister for Education and Lifelong Learning. The Project Board is accountable through SSDA/ELWa to the Welsh Assembly Government. Details of the specific guidance for SSCs about developing SSAs with reference to Wales can be found at

The strategic context in Wales There are some key strategies that provide the wider context for SSAs in Wales. These documents can be found on the National Assembly for Wales websites and Wales: A Better Country (set out in, aims to: −

promote a diverse, competitive, high added-value economy, with high quality skills and education, that minimizes demands on the environment;

take action on social justice that tackles poverty and poor health, and provides people and their communities with the means to help themselves;

take action in our built and natural environment that enhances pride promotes local employment and helps to minimize waste;

strengthen Wales’ cultural identity and helping to create a bilingual country;

ensure all children and future generations enjoy better prospects in life

support people to live healthy and independent lives;

promote openness, partnership and participation.

Skills and Employment Action Plan In Wales the Skills and Employment Action Plan (SEAP2) sets out how the Assembly Government and partners are keen to collaborate and work in partnership with SSCs in Wales. The Welsh Assembly Government is fully committed to SSAs, as set out in the Skills and Employment Action Plan 2005 (SEAP2). The Action Plan states that “[SSCs] …. will be the basis for developing Sector Skills Agreements with partners in Wales to deliver learning provision more effectively geared to the needs of employers”, p16 paragraph 27, SEAP2. The policy specification for the development of SSAs in Wales notes that the overall aim of SEAP2 is for a “Wales where …employers work with their employees and public sector agencies to raise skills levels to the highest possible level to support high quality jobs in a growing economy”. SSAs will provide a significant mechanism for achieving that aim by enabling employers, trade unions and government to collaborate in meeting the priority skill requirements of industry sectors, and in particular those skill requirements that are needed to drive improved business performance”. For the full details of this specification see:


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

A Learning Country sets out a goal for Wales to have one of the best education and lifelong learning systems in the world with the following aims: −

a learning country, where high quality, lifelong learning provides the skills people need to prosper in the new economy, liberates talent, extends opportunities and empowers communities.

all young people to have the best start in life, the opportunity to reach their full potential, and a clear entitlement to influence the services that affect them.

to drive up standards of teaching and attainment in all our schools, valuing and supporting the teaching profession to achieve this.

ensure that the benefits of improvements are enjoyed by all, in a fully comprehensive system of learning that serves all our local communities well.

learning to be an every day part of working, and non-working life, in which the interest of learners come first.

to strengthen the contribution of education and training to economic development as set out in the National Economic Development Strategy consultation document.

Wales, A Vibrant Economy (WAVE) is the Assembly Government’s vision of a vibrant Welsh economy delivering strong and sustainable economic growth by providing opportunities for all. This strategic framework for economic development examines how this vision can be achieved. The approach it sets out focuses on encouraging sustainable growth through helping more people into work and helping to raise earnings for those in work by maximising the value created in the Welsh economy. The approach described reflects the aims set out in Wales: A Better Country to create more, and better, jobs.

Education and training organisations in Wales ELWa – The National Council for Education and Learning in Wales is an Assembly Sponsored Public Body established under the Learning and Skills Act 2000 with responsibility for funding, planning and promoting all post-16 education and training in Wales with the exception of Higher Education. This includes further education, private and voluntary sector training provision, adult continuing education and sixth forms (via LEAs). ELWa has a duty to secure appropriate and reasonable provision. By April 2006, ELWa will be merged with their sponsor department and will become part of the Welsh Assembly Government. ELWa takes a Wales-wide approach to achieve consistency, co-ordination and efficiency and has a regional structure, with Regional Committees and staff teams, based in North, Mid, South West and South East Wales. ELWa funded provision includes Work-based Learning, FE learning, Skillbuild/Skillbuild+, Modern Apprenticeships/Apprenticeships, Modern Skills Diploma, School Sixth forms, Adult Community Learning, Investors in People, Company Learning Accounts, Management Development and Leadership, Individual Learning Accounts and ESF programmes related to learning. Future Skills Wales within ELWa has access to the raw data underpinning the FSW research. The two key datasets, from 2003, are: Employer survey and the Household survey. From December 2005, results will be available from the 2005 Employer Skills Survey which considers skills gaps and shortages on a sample structured on SSC SIC codes.


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) is an Assembly Sponsored Public Body. The Council assumed responsibility for the funding of higher education in Wales in April 1993. It administers funds made available by the National Assembly for Wales to support education, research and associated activities at 12 higher education institutions. It also provides funds for higher education courses at FE colleges. A remit letter is issued from the Minister for Education and Lifelong Learning in February of each year, which outlines guidance for the year ahead and indicates key priorities. The Council is also responsible for funding initial teaching training for school teachers. The strategic aims of the organisation include: delivering wider participation and access in support of social inclusion and economic upskilling, delivering the highest quality learning and related support, delivering improved research to underpin the knowledge economy, cultural and social renewal, delivering more productive relationships between higher education institutions other sectors and local communities and delivering newly qualified teachers of high quality. ACCAC is the Qualifications, Curriculum and Assessment Authority for Wales (Awdurdod Cymwysterau, Cwricwlwm ac Asesu Cymru). Its purpose is to advance education and training through promoting quality and coherence in order to meet the Assembly's vision of becoming internationally renowned as a Learning Country has two main roles: −

to advise the Welsh Assembly Government on matters relating to curriculum, assessment and qualifications in schools

to act as the statutory regulatory authority in Wales for all qualifications outside higher education.

ACCAC also commissions publishers to produce high quality Welsh and bilingual classroom materials. These are designed to assist in the teaching of Welsh and other subjects through the medium of Welsh. They also support Wales specific aspects of the school curriculum. In addition ACCAC undertakes a variety of research projects before developing effective advice and policies. This targeted research is determined on an annual basis. Welsh Development Agency (WDA) is the Economic Development Agency for Wales with a remit that covers −

sustainable development;

social inclusion

equal opportunities; and

working in partnership with the private sector, local government and the voluntary sector.

A Winning Wales and WAVE are the strategies that form the basis of WDA’s policies to transform the Welsh economy over the next ten years. The WDAs work focuses on the following objectives: Encouraging Innovation, Encouraging Entrepreneurship, Making Wales A Learning Country, Promoting Information and Communication Technologies, Supporting Businesses, Establishing Wales in the World and, Creating Strong Communities and Supporting Rural Wales.


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

Annex B: SSDA and SSC contact details SSDA

Sara Turton, Sector Skills Agreement Development Manager Telephone: 01709 765444 Website: Address: Sector Skills Development Agency 3 Callflex Business Park Golden Smithies Lane Wath-Upon-Dearne South Yorkshire S637ER

To subscribe to INVOLVE, the weekly e-bulletin from the Skills for Business network, email

SSCs Asset Skills: Property services, housing, cleaning services and facilities management. Tel: 01392 423399 Fax: 01392 423373 Email: Website: Automotive Skills: The retail motor industry. Tel: 020 7436 6373 Fax: 020 7436 5108 Email: Website: Cogent: Chemical, nuclear, oil and gas, petroleum and polymer industries. Tel: 01224 787800 Fax: 01224 787830. Email: Website: ConstructionSkills: Construction. Tel: 01485 577577 Fax: 01485 577503 Email: Website: Creative & Cultural Skills: Advertising, crafts, cultural heritage, design, music, performing, literary and visual arts. Tel: 020 7089 5866 Fax: 020 7089 5857 Email: Website: Energy & Utility Skills: Electricity, gas, waste management and water industries. Tel: 0845 077 9922 Fax: 0845 077 9933 Email: Website:


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

e-skills UK: Information technology, telecommunications and contact centres. Tel: 020 7963 8920 Fax: 020 7592 9138 Email: Website: Financial Services Skills Council: Financial services industry. Tel: 020 7216 7366 Fax: 020 7216 7370 Email: Website: GoSkills: Passenger transport. Tel: 0121 635 5520 Fax: 0121 635 5521 Email: Website: Government Skills: Government departments and agencies. Tel: 020 7276 1611 Email: (Website still in development) Improve Ltd: Food and drink, manufacturing and processing. Tel: 0845 644 0448 Fax: 0845 644 0449 Email: Website: Lantra: Environmental and land-based industries. Tel: 0247 669 6996 Fax: 0247 669 6732 Email: Website: Lifelong Learning UK: Employers who deliver and/or support the delivery of lifelong learning. Tel: 020 7332 9500 Fax: 020 7332 9501 Email: People 1st: Hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism. Tel: 0870 060 2550Fax: 0870 060 2551Email: Website: Proskills: Process and manufacturing industries. Tel: 01235 833844 Email: Website: SEMTA: Science, engineering and manufacturing technologies. Tel: 01923 238441Fax: 01923 256086. Email: Website: Skillfast-UK: Apparel, footwear, textiles and related businesses. Tel: 0113 239 9600Fax: 0113 239 9601Email: Website: Skills for Health: Health sector across the UK. Tel: 0117 922 1155 Fax: 0117 925 1800 Email: Website: Skills for Justice: Custodial care, community justice, court services, prosecution services and police. Tel: 0114 261 1499. Fax: 0114 261 8038. Email: Website:


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

Skills for Logistics: Freight logistics industry. Tel: 01908 313360 Fax: 01908 313006 Email: Website: SkillsActive: Active leisure and learning. Tel: 020 7632 2000 Fax: 020 7632 2001 Email: Website: Skillset: Broadcast, film, video, interactive media and photo-imaging. Tel: 020 7520 5757 Fax: 020 7520 5758 Email: Website: Skillsmart: Retail Tel: 020 7399 3450 Fax: 020 7399 3451 Email: Website: Skills for Care & Development: Social care, children, young people and families. Tel: 0113 241 1251 Fax: 0113 243 6417 Email: Websites:,,, SummitSkills: Building services engineering Tel: 0870 351 4620 Fax: 01908 487709 Email: Website:


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

Annex C: TUC contact details TUC support for learning, skills and education comes from three TUC teams: the Learning and Skills Policy Team, TUC Learning Services and TUC Education. We have given one point of contact in each of these teams and each TUC region. At present the main support for the union role in the sector skills agenda is located in the learning and skills policy team, but please be aware that there will shortly be changes to the arrangements below as a result of the launch of the union academy in spring 2006. This part of the toolkit will be updated once the new arrangements are in place. Learning and Skills Policy Team Iain Murray, Senior Policy Officer Email: (Coordinates the SSC Union Network and sector skills policy work) TUC Learning Services (Union Learning Reps, ULF and workplace skills) Judith Swift, National Officer Email: TUC Learning Services Regional Coordinators Northern Barney McGill Email: Yorkshire & the Humber Marion Simon Email: North West Dave Eva Email: Midlands Mary Alys Email: Southern and Eastern Barry Francis Email: South West Helen Cole Email: TUC Education (Supports education and training of union reps) Liz Rees, National Training Officer Email: Wales The Learning Coordinator post in Wales TUC is currently vacant but an appointment will be made shortly. In the meantime please contact: Scottish TUC Email:


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

Annex D: union board members of SSCs The table below refers to union representation on main SSC Boards. Please remember that in most cases many other union officials are represented on committees and councils below Board level. For example, many of the SSCs have developed organisational structures to address the needs of different sub-sectors within their particular industry and have invited union officials with expertise in these areas to be represented at this level within the SSC. For more information on other union representatives on these SSCs, please contact the TUC (see Annex C for contacts). In addition, please make the TUC aware of any changes to union representation on individual SSCs that they may not have been made aware of. SSC

Union Board Member

Asset Skills

Rosalie Ward, National Officer, UNISON

Automotive Skills

John Rowse, National Secretary, TGWU


Dai Hudd, Assistant General Secretary, Prospect Linda McCulloch, National Officer, Amicus Jim Mowatt, National Secretary, TGWU

Construction Skills

Bob Blackman, National Secretary, TGWU Alan Ritchie, General Secretary, UCATT

Creative and Cultural Skills

Christine Payne, General Secretary, Equity

Energy & Utility Skills

Mike Jeram, National Secretary, UNISON

e-skills UK

Adrian Askew, General Secretary, Connect

Financial Services Skills Council

John Earls, Research Section Head, Amicus

Go Skills

Graham Stevenson, National Organiser, TGWU

Government Skills

Sue Ferns, Head of Research, Prospect Hugh Lanning, Deputy General Secretary, PCS


Brian Revell, National Organiser, TGWU


Peter Medhurst, TGWU (retired official)

Lifelong Learning UK

Paul Mackney, General Secretary, NATFHE Christina McAnea, National Secretary, UNISON

People 1st

Jude Brimble, National Officer, GMB


Phil Davies, National Secretary, GMB Bernard Rutter, Head of Organising, Learning & Skills, Amicus GPM


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists


Keith Hazlewood, National Secretary, GMB John Wall, General Secretary, CSEU John Quigley, Regional Secretary, Amicus


Peter Booth, National Organiser, TGWU Phil Davies, National Secretary, GMB Paul Gates, Deputy General Secretary, Community

Skills for Care and Development (Skills for Care)

Owen Davies, Senior National Officer, UNISON

(The Childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Workforce Development Council)

Helga Pile, Senior Research & Policy Officer, GMB Jon Richards, Senior National Officer, UNISON

Skills for Health

Steve Williams, National Officer, UNISON

Skills for Justice

Rosie Eagleson, National Secretary, PCS

Skills for Logistics

Robert Monks, General Secretary URTU Ron Webb, National Secretary, TGWU


Brian Strutton, National Secretary, GMB


Roger Bolton, General Secretary, BECTU Jeremy Dear, General Secretary, NUJ Christine Payne, General Secretary, Equity

Skillsmart Retail

John Hannett, General Secretary, USDAW

Summit Skills

Tom Hardacre, Regional Officer, Amicus

Annex E: Unions representatives on LSCs, RDAs and Regional Skills Partnerships (RSPs) LSC Name Union Bedfordshire and Luton Lorene Fabian AMICUS Bedfordshire and Luton Karen Livingstone CSP Berkshire Jacqui Johnson NATFHE Birmingham Gerard Coyne TGWU Black Country Recruitment in process Bournemouth, Dorset, & Poole Steven Atwill AMICUS Cambridgeshire Tony Ellingford AMICUS Cheshire and Warrington Jim Keegan UNISON County Durham Keith Hodgson UNISON Coventry & Warwickshire VACANCY Cumbria Mike Thorpe UNISON Derbyshire Margaret Lynch UNISON


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists


Annex E: Unions representatives on LSCs, RDAs and Regional Skills Partnerships (RSPs) LSC



Bedfordshire and Luton

Lorene Fabian


Bedfordshire and Luton

Karen Livingstone



Jacqui Johnson



Gerard Coyne


Black Country


Bournemouth, Dorset, & Poole

Steven Atwill



Tony Ellingford


Cheshire and Warrington

Jim Keegan


County Durham

Keith Hodgson


Coventry & Warwickshire



Mike Thorpe



Margaret Lynch


Devon & Cornwall, & Scilly Isles

Geoff Hale



Ian Barber



Jackie Longworth


Greater Manchester

Dave McCall


Greater Manchester

Ray Short



Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists




Greater Merseyside

John Swain


Hampshire & the Isle of Wight

Michael Budd


Hereford & Worcester

Philip Bannister



James Telford



Ian Wood


Kent & Medway

Derek Hunter



Ray McManus



Les Price


Lincolnshire & Rutland

Nev Jackson


London Central

Roy Lockett


London East

John Hellyer


London East

Mick Connolly


London North

Steve Hart


London South

John Ball


London West

Sue Ferns


Milton Keynes, Oxfordshire, & Bucks

Jon Appleton



Peter Medhurst


North Yorkshire

Marian Simon



Bob Scott



Veronica Dunn



Kevin Rowan



Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists





Barbara McKenna



Cliff Murray



Jon Gray


South Yorkshire

Bev Marshall



Ian Tonks



Greg Grant







Phil Wood

Tees Valley


Tyne & Wear

Gill Hale


West of England

Andy McDowall


West Yorkshire

David Isbell


Wiltshire & Swindon

Jim D'Avila




Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

RDA North East Yorkshire & the Humber North West West Midlands East Midlands Eastern Region London South East South West

Union representative Kevin Rowan, Regional Secretary, Northern Region TUC Stella Guy, Regional Secretary, TGWU Dave McCall, Regional Secretary, TGWU Gerard Coyne, Regional Secretary, TGWU Nev Jackson, Regional Secretary, Amicus Karen Livingstone, Head of Communications, CSP Mick Connolly, Regional Secretary, Southern & Eastern Region TUC Phil Wood, Regional Secretary, UNISON Nigel Costley, Regional Secretary, South West Region TUC


Union representative

North East Yorkshire & the Humber

Kevin Rowan, Regional Secretary, Northern Region TUC Bill Adams, Regional Secretary, Yorkshire & the Humber Region TUC Alan Manning, Regional Secretary, North West Region TUC Alan Weaver, Regional Policy & Campaigns Officer, Midlands Region TUC Mary Alys, Learning Services Co-ordinator, Midlands Region TUC Barry Francis, Learning Services Co-ordinator, Southern & Eastern Region TUC Mick Connolly, Regional Secretary, Southern & Eastern Region TUC Barry Francis, Learning Services Co-ordinator, Southern & Eastern Region TUC Nigel Costley, Regional Secretary, South West Region TUC

North West West Midlands East Midlands Eastern Region London South East South West


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

Annex F: Glossary of terms Thanks to the LSC’s Skills and Education Network (SENET) A-Z Jargon Buster for much of the material in this Glossary, see This glossary contains words and phrases used in the Toolkit. SENET’s jargon buster website has many more definitions of terms used relating to learning and skills. 14-19 pathway: The term ‘pathway’ is used to mean a programme designed to meet the needs of, and provide progression for, an identified group of students. Recent curriculum development has been influenced by the expectation of a more flexible 14-19 curriculum and the need to ensure the skills and aptitudes developed are those needed in the twenty-first century economy. Apprenticeships: are available in all sectors of the economy and normally last between one and three years. They are a form of work-based learning that allows apprentices to learn on the job while building up skills and gaining qualifications. Young Apprenticeships give 14- to 16-yearolds the opportunity to spend up to two days a week in the workplace. Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships give 16- to 24-year-olds the opportunity to work and train with an employer while studying for qualifications. Adult Apprenticeships are for people aged over 25 (these are currently being developed) Apprenticeship Framework: An Apprenticeship framework is a set of training requirements for a particular sector, drawn up by the Sector Skills Councils. Each framework outlines the content and expected duration of the apprenticeship, as well as detailing the relationship between the apprentice and employer. The frameworks may also include elements such as an apprenticeship agreement and individual learning plan. The requirements of the frameworks need to be met in order for training in the Modern Apprenticeship to be recognised. Basic Skills (see Skills for Life) Business Link is a national network of business support, advice and information services managed by the DTI which is available across England and is coordinated by the Regional Development Agencies. The Capital/Infrastructure Fund is part of the Union Learning Fund (see below) and enables trade unions to bid for funding for capital projects, in particular for ICT projects that are linked to the sector skills agenda Collective Agreements on Training: Trade Unions play an active part in supporting their members collectively via the collective bargaining process. This includes the negotiation of pay and terms & conditions with the employer on behalf of employees. While unions have no statutory right to negotiate on training, a large number of agreements do include this and many unions are now taking this forward by establishing Learning Agreements with employers. Competence: Competence means 'the ability to get things done' or outcomes. To be more specific, it means the ability to get things done to the right standards as recognised by employers. This is a key concept for NOSs and ultimately the NVQs and SVQs. Connexions is an advice service for 13-19-year-olds that supports their transition to adulthood and working life. It offers confidential advice, information and support on a range of issues,


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

including careers, health, relationships, housing, education and money. It is available only to those living in England e-learning: using IT/technology to deliver learning and training programmes. Typically used to describe media such as CD-ROM, Internet, Intranet, wireless and mobile learning. Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) deals with sex discrimination and inequality related to gender, including good practice in the fair and equal treatment of men and women. SSC Footprint: describes the scope of the SSC and the coverage of its sector Foundation Degrees: A foundation degree is a vocational higher education qualification. The development of Foundation Degrees aims to increase the number of people qualified at higher technician and associate professional level, such as legal executives, engineering technicians and personnel officers The National Framework for Achievement (NfA) is a proposed new structure to replace the National Qualifications Framework in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It will recognise units of achievement as well as whole qualifications. The aims of the new framework are to make the qualifications and achievements system more responsive to the needs of business and learners, and to help people to understand the true value of their achievements. The plans for the new framework have been developed by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, Learning and Skills Council and Sector Skills Development Agency. The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) distributes public money to universities and colleges for teaching and research. The council's brief is to promote high quality education and research. It also plays a role in ensuring accountability and promoting good practice. There are separate funding councils for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland:,, Industry Training Board see Training Levy Investors in People (IiP) is an accreditation scheme for well-managed companies. It is aimed at boosting productivity, profitability, customer service, and staff motivation by creating a climate of 'continuous improvement' in a company. This is achieved by setting clear company goals, communicating these aims to all people in the company, planning effectively to achieve them, and investing in staff training and development. Companies are scored against guidelines before gaining accreditation as an Investor in People. IiP was developed in 1990 by leading UK businesses and national organisations. Jobcentre Plus is the name now given to Jobcentres and the aim is to provide all services for jobless people in one place, including advice on jobs, training and benefits. Labour market information/intelligence (LMI) is data about the labour market and the factors that influence it. LMI can include data on employment, wages, qualifications and working conditions. Labour market intelligence (LMI) is the interpretation and analysis of labour market information. LMI can include information on performance, skills and labour demand, unemployment, and the quality and effectiveness of education, learning and skills provision.


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

learndirect operates a network of more than 2,000 online learning centres in England, Wales and Northern Ireland providing access to a range of e-learning opportunities for individuals and employees. The Trade Union Hub coordinates union learning centres that are accredited providers of learndirect courses. and (for information about the Trade Union Hub) The Learning and Skills Council (LSC) is responsible for funding and planning education and training (excluding higher education) in England for people aged over 16. It works with relevant organisations, colleges and groups to define and meet training and education needs, as well as developing and implementing appropriate strategies. The LSC's work covers further education, work-based training and workforce development. It is also responsible for adult and community learning, school sixth forms, education business links, and information, advice and guidance for adults. Based in Coventry, the LSC also has 47 offices, known as local LSCs, around the country. NVQ Level 1, 2, 3 4 or 5. See note on NVQs below. Lines of learning: The new vocational diplomas for 14-19 year olds are named according to the lines of learning they relate to. One line recognises achievement in â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;openâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; programmes, where learners can choose a mixture of subjects and/or vocational options from different lines. The remaining lines provide more specialised named pathways, covering broad academic and vocational areas. National Assembly for Wales (NAfW) In 1997, the Welsh people endorsed government proposals to devolve certain powers and responsibilities to the National Assembly for Wales. The Welsh Assembly Government develops and implements policy. It is accountable to the National Assembly which is in charge of a range of policy areas including education and lifelong learning. National Employer Training Programme (see paragraph 4.31 for a detailed description of this programme) National Occupational Standards (NOS) are statements that set out the competencies needed to carry out a job role effectively. NOSs are developed in consultation with practitioners from the sector and those working in those job roles. Once developed NOSs are submitted to the QCA in England and SQA in Scotland. Once approved by these bodies, the NOSs form the basis upon which the content of NVQs/SVQs for the sector are written. NOSs are also used by some employers; HR teams can take the standards to help them design a range of activities including recruitment and selection criteria, training and development programmes and job-evaluations and appraisal systems. Some union colleagues have been working with their SSCs in the project groups established by the SSC to develop the NOSs within their remit. or contact the relevant SSC National Training Organisations (NTOs) were independent, employer-led bodies that represented different industrial and employment sectors, such as banking and the motor industry. The NTOs were replaced by the Sector Skills Councils. National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) are work-related, competence based qualifications that reflect the skills and knowledge needed to do a job effectively. They represent national standards recognised by employers throughout the country. They are organised into a


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

classification which is based on the competence levels required and there are equivalents to academic qualifications, e.g., Level 2 is equivalent to 5 GCSEs at grades A-C. Their central feature is the National Occupational Standards (NOS) on which they are based. Pathfinder SSCs/SSAs The four SSCs that developed the first four Sector Skills Agreements The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Education and Skills. QCA has responsibility for developments in curricula and all aspects of assessment. It works with others to develop curricula and associated assessments and to accredit and monitor qualifications in schools, colleges and at work. Regional Development Agencies are non-departmental public bodies responsible for promoting economic development in their respective regions. They aim to provide coordinated regional economic development and regeneration, reduce economic imbalances between regions, and help regions to improve their competitiveness. The nine Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) in England are the responsibility of the Department of Trade and Industry Regional Skills Partnerships Announced in the 2003 Skills Strategy White Paper, the Government outlined the need for stronger partnerships to drive forward the Skills Strategy at the regional level in England. The RSPs include all the relevant government agencies at the regional level as well as employers, trade unions and other key stakeholders. Scottish Executive is the devolved government for Scotland. It is responsible for most of the issues of day-to-day concern to the people of Scotland, including health, education, justice, rural affairs, and transport. The Executive is led by a First Minister who is nominated by the Parliament and in turn appoints the other Scottish Ministers who make up the Cabinet. Executive civil servants are accountable to Scottish Ministers, who are themselves accountable to the Scottish Parliament. Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs) are the Scottish equivalent of National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs). Sector Skills Agreements (SSAs) – see Section 4 Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) – see Section 3 SSC licence the approval process for SSCs Sector Qualification Strategies see paragraph 3.29 and the QCA website Skills Academies – see paragraph 3 and the DfES website The Skills Alliance: see paragraphs 3.14 and 3.39. Skills for Business network is the collective name used for the network of SSCs and the SSDA.


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

Skills for Life can be defined as 'the ability to read, write and speak in English and use mathematics at a level necessary to function and progress at work and in society in general'. It is estimated that up to 7 million adults in England have significant literacy skills and the figure for numeracy is even higher. There are a number of government and union initiatives tackling this agenda and (for the union/ULR role) Skills gaps are the difference between the supply of and the demand for specific skills. In companies, skills gaps are the extent to which employers feel their employees' existing skills are not enough to meet current business aims. The National Employers Skill Survey 2004 (NESS 2004) found that 20 per cent of all establishments were experiencing skills gaps. You can access data from the NESS survey at Skill shortages The term 'skills shortages' is used to describe a situation where there is a lack of skilled workers available to fill jobs. The lack of skilled workers can be because of low levels of unemployment, geographical problems, or a lack of workers with the necessary skills. Trade Union Hub (see learndirect) Trailblazer SSCs There were the first five SSCs to be licensed. Training levy: In sectors where there is an Industry Training Board, there is a levy on employers to finance an ITBâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s activities and to share the cost of training more evenly between companies in the industry. Every employer whose main activity is included in the definition of the industry is legally required to pay the levy unless they are exempted by the ITB (see paragraph 3.8 for more details) Union Learning Fund was introduced by the Government to fund union-led projects that encourage and support learning at work. Union Learning Reps (ULRs) are union representatives who are trained in advising members and employees on learning needs and opportunities. Much more information about ULRs is available in the toolkit (see paragraph 2.4 onwards) at Union Modernisation Fund (UMF) is a Government grant scheme established by the DTI to provide financial assistance to independent trade unions and their federations in support of innovative projects, which contribute to, or explore the potential for, a transformational change in the organisational effectiveness or efficiency of a union or unions, in the light of the changing needs, aspirations and behaviour of workers and employers in the changing UK labour market. Unitised qualifications/unit based curriculum The new Framework for Achievement (see above) will be unit- and credit-based. It will be based on the following principles: all qualifications to be based on combinations of units (unless they comprise a single unit) and the adoption of a common language for describing achievement and describing and measuring all achievement. In this way learners are rewarded for the progression they make through units of achievement and can build up qualifications based on the accumulation of units over time if necessary. Vocational Diplomas: part of the new 14-19 education system for young people that is currently under development. For more details see Lines of Learning (above) and paragraph 3.25 and 6.12


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists

Annex G: References i Time for a Work Learn Balance: TUC Workplace Learning. TUC 2005. ii Campbell M (2002), Learn to Succeed: The Case for a Skills Revolution, Policy Press, Bristol; Dearden L, Macintosh S, Myck M, Vignoles A (2001), The Returns to Academic, Vocational and Basic Skills in Britain, DfEE Research Report 192, DfEE iii M Porter et al, 2003 (op cit). iv Skills in the Global Economy, HM Treasury 2004. v Britain’s relative productivity performance: Updates to 1999. M O’Mahony and W de Boer 2002. vi Work skills in Britain 1986-2001, SKOPE 2002. vii Labour Force Survey, England 2004 viii Skills: Getting on in business, getting on at work. DfES 2005. ix Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: Survey of Adult Learning. NIACE, 2002. x Time for a Work Learn Balance: TUC Workplace Learning survey. TUC 2005. xi Realising the Potential: A Review of the Future Role of Further Education Colleges. Sir Andrew Foster/DfES, November 2005. xii Partnership At Work – A New National Agreement: AMICUS, BPIF, Dti 2005. xiii See Learning for Change: A Prospectus for a Union Academy in England, available from TUC Learning Services xiv Spontaneous Disorder? A Very Short History of British Vocational Education and Training, 1563-1973. in Policy Futures in Education, Volume 2, Number 1, 2004. J Foreman-Peck Cardiff Business School. xv Influence, a guide to becoming and SSC. SSDA 2003 xvi DfES/SSDA Specification for the Scope and Delivery of Sector Skills Agreements. xvii The detail of the changes in the balance of funding from the LSC is set out in the LSC’s ‘Priorities for Success: Funding for Learning and Skills 2006-08’ xviii Skills: Getting on in business, getting on at work. Skills White Paper 2005. xix EOC Occupational Segregation Working Paper Series no 25 - Gender Segregation in Apprenticeships, 2005.


Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists  
Sector Skills Councils: a toolkit for trade unionists  

This toolkit is aimed at all trade unionists with any involvement in the sector skills agenda and it draws heavily on the experiences of tho...