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IOP calls for industry response to Sector Skills Council consultation

IOP: The Packaging Society is calling for all those in the UK packaging community with an interest in boosting training and skills to respond to a consultation by Proskills, one of the Government-backed Sector Skills Councils (SSCs), which seeks to determine the extent to which the sector supports the industry becoming part of this particular SSC.

The deadline for responses is July 20. More details, together with a consultation form, which can be completed and submitted online, can be found at: www.proskills.co.uk

In a recent letter to packaging companies, trade associations and other interested parties, Proskills ceo Terry Watts explains that in 2002 the Government introduced changes to employer-led sector skills bodies which led to the replacement of the 74 former National Training Organisations or NTOs by 25 new Sector Skills Councils. A key premise of the SSC system has been that employers “have the chance to influence how the Government spends the billions of pounds it allocates for training and education every year”.

Initially the packaging industry became part of the SEMTA (Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies) SSC, but in 2006 it was decided “the relationship was neither fruitful to the packaging industry nor SEMTA, and the two, by mutual const, parted company”. This, Watts’s letter states, “leaves the packaging industry vulnerable in terms of education ands training initiatives”.

The Proskills consultation offers the packaging sector the opportunity to become part of Proskills UK; Watts says his SSC believes the issues facing the sector “have more in common with the paper, print, coatings/inks and glass industries covered by Proskills”. To gauge the sector’s views, Proskills has published a paper outlining the benefits of joining the SSC; interested individuals and bodies are encouraged, after reading it, to submit their views via the email survey link.

Gordon Stewart, head of the IOP’s Packaging Industry Awarding Body Company (PIABC), says: “It is to Sector Skills Councils that the Government looks when deciding how to allocate the £10bn budget of the Learning and Skills Council to try to ensure it is spent in such a way that it meets the needs of the industry as expressed through the SSCs.

“Without involvement in these organisations specific industry sectors are significantly disadvantaged compared with others. A concern that many in the packaging industry share is that, because of our relatively low level of involvement in SSCs, we do not command the amount of public funding for vocational training that, because of our size and importance, we are entitled to.”