Headlines: November 1st, 2005

National Skills Academies are to be set up for manufacturing, construction, food and drink, and financial services. They will open by September 2006 and support the training of tens of thousands of young people and adults each year. They will be linked closely to the 14 – 19 year olds vocational learning offered through schools. The academies will play a key part in creating jobs, tackling skills shortages and driving up productivity.The Fashion Retail Academy was the first National Skills Academy to be developed and opened its doors to students in September this year. The aim is to have at least 12 National Skills Academies, one for each major sector. A new prospectus for a second round of bids will be published in Spring next year.

This latest initiative is being driven by well-known companies in each industry such as Bovis Lend Lease, Kier Homes, Northern Foods Plc, Youngs Bluecrest Seafood Ltd, Filtronics Components Ltd, Caterpillar, Nationwide Building Society and Norwich Union Insurance. The companies have committed to leading the successful bids and they will now work with the Learning and Skills Councils to develop detailed business plans.

The manufacturing industry has 48,000 vacancies, 13,000 of which are skill shortage vacancies. A key role of the manufacturing academy led by the Sector Skills Council for Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies Alliance (SEMTA) will be to encourage more young people and adults to consider a career in the industry by offering real opportunities for progression and skills development,.

The construction industry needs around 88,000 new entrants per year in craft, technical, professional and management roles and estimates it will need 250,000 people skilled to NVQ level 2, equivalent to five good GCSEs, by 2010. The academy will contribute to the training of 20,000 workers a year in 2006 growing to 70,000 workers a year at level 2 and above in 2010. Developing construction skills will be vital for major projects associated with the 2012 Olympics. There are currently 32,000 vacancies of which 13,700 are skills shortage vacancies.