Headlines: May 15th, 2006

A series of education and training initiatives for professionals, communities and young people has been launched by The Academy for Sustainable Communities. The Leeds-based Academy, the first of its kind in Britain, is working to improve the skills and knowledge needed to deliver and maintain sustainable communities.With partners from all sectors it will focus on a range of projects designed to capture the interest of young people and encourage them into sustainable community careers. It also aims to ensure there is a coordinated programme of training for professionals and to increase the ability of communities to shape their own futures.

The ASC has set out its key priorities for young people as being the development of curriculum content for secondary schools and of a cross-sector careers brand as well as launching national and regional marketing campaigns. For professionals its priorities are to commission cross occupational learning and training materials for a range of professions and to work with private sector developers, consultants and investors to identify and develop a plan to address skills and knowledge shortfalls between the public and private sectors. Turning to communities it wants to create a learning programme that will enable people to engage more effectively in the sustainable communities process and to help community leaders, leading members of councils and their officers and Local Strategic Partnerships.

The ASC is also aiming to be at the forefront of a growing international focus on sustainable communities and will take forward the principles of the Bristol Accord and lead a Skills Symposium allowing experts from across Europe to promote good practice and share ideas. To that end it has organised a conference that will take place in Leeds in November.

ASC chair Peter Roberts said Britain had an acute skills shortage and not enough young people were taking up the opportunities available. “Many professions are still constrained by occupational and organisation silos and we continue to repeat past mistakes. We also need to empower local people, raising aspirations to achieve sustainable communities and equipping them to influence the development of their own areas,” he added