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What we need is simple: skills

Newell McGuiness

During the summer I was bemoaning the fact that the UK skills arena was a complete guddle – well, it’s not getting any better!

The November publication of the Government review of the statutory Industry Training Boards (ITBs) is the latest demonstration of the uncertainty that is rife in the sector.

Coming on the back of the introduction of the UK apprenticeship levy, the demise of sector skills councils and the introduction of (trailblazer) industry standards, to name but a few, the ITBs review presents yet another challenge for employers. It does, however, provide clarity that government wants to see effective ITBs remain, with the emphasis on effective!

Certainly, the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB)has been set some stiff challenges, and going forward it will be a more focused and smaller organisation.

Out go many of its frontline training delivery and related activities and in comes a concentration on monitoring and improving the quality of training delivery and dealing particularly with areas where there is market failure or a need for collective action.

There will be more focus on small businesses and a much more collaborative approach with the wider construction industry and its trade associations and training providers, primarily to ensure no duplication of effort.

These and many other changes will be challenging for CITB, but there is every reason to have confidence that its new Chief Executive, Sarah Beale, will deliver.

While the ITBs review is unsettling to the skills and training landscape, the realignment of CITB to its core activities is probably good news for the electrical sector, as fewer distractions for our employers from CITB will allow the electrical industry to get on with dealing with its own challenges.

SELECT and its industry partners are already some way down the road to ensuring we have all the right pieces in place. Our aim is to simplify matters, so it becomes easy for electrical contractors to engage with skills issues and provide the training and development that supports their people and meets the needs of their business and its clients.

SECTT is in a strong position, with apprentice numbers continuing to grow organically, strong commitment from governmentto “real” apprenticeships and several significant resource milestones hit that secure a sustainable financial future.

SELECT’s new Skills and Training Development Committee will start work in 2018 and BSE Skills Ltd is poised to respond to Skills Development Scotland’s invitation to tender to take over key SummitSkills tasks. We are also working closely with SDS, the Scottish Apprenticeship Advisory Board and English colleagues around future needs for the electrical industry.

So while skills issues at a UK level are a real guddle, it feels like we have many positives in Scotland and a good handle on what needs to be done. We remain firmly on track to deliver our thematic goal: SELECT – Excellence in Skills.

Newell McGuiness – Signature

Newell McGinness Managing Director, SELECT

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