Headlines: April 19th, 2007



Heads of central government departments have made a commitment that every eligible employee will be helped to gain basic skills and a level two qualification which is equivalent to 5 GCSEs at grades A* -C. This commitment covers over 475,000 people working to deliver public services in nineteen departments.

In his report on skills published in December 2006, Lord Leitch warned that unless strong action was taken over the next few years to address skills levels in the workforce, the UK economy was likely to be seriously damaged in its ability to compete in world markets. He proposed a skills pledge – that every eligible employee be helped by their employer to gain basic skills and a level two qualification. The pledge is currently a voluntary commitment, but Lord Leitch also proposed that unless significant progress was made by 2010, the government should consider legislating to require employers to provide support.

To ensure progress against the pledge can be monitored effectively, Government Skills, the sector skills council for central government, has commissioned a skills survey across the entire sector. Andrew McDonald, Chief Executive of Government Skills, said: “This survey will give us a very detailed picture of the current skills of employees which we can share with employers – and training providers – to enable us to plan more effectively the learning and development activity required both now and for the future. This is a vital part of our work to ensure employees within the public sector have the right skills to deliver effective public services.”

David Bell, Permanent Secretary for DfES said: “Lord Leitch’s ambition for the nation to become a world class leader in skills by 2020 is achievable if we work together. I urge every employer, both in the private and public sector, to follow our lead and sign up to the skills pledge.”