Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) and Industrial Partnerships

Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) and Industrial Partnerships

There are currently two types of sector bodies with a remit for skills, Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) and Industrial Partnerships.

SSCs are independent, employer-led, UK–wide organisations that are licensed by the government through the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES). There are also a small number of sector skills bodies that are not licensed SSCs. There are currently 18 Sector Skills Councils and 5 sector skills bodies who work with over 550,000 employers to define skills needs and skills standards in their industry. They are supported by the Federation for Industry Sector Skills & Standards (FISSS).

Directory of all SSCs

Time for a new industrial policy - Policy Network, 13 February 2015

Britain is also far from emulating the 'social partnership' approach which sees employers, government and trade unions working together to develop strategies for skills and training. As the UK Commission for Employment and Skills noted in recent report: "compared to countries with strong vocational systems such as Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands, industry leadership and partnership working in the UK is underdeveloped." In particular, argues Iain Murray, "the concept of 'employee voice' is weak".

Due to major funding changes introduced in 2012, there is no longer a comprehensive system of grant funding from government for SSCs. Their funding now largely depends on how successful they are in contestable bidding applications to various government funds (similar in some ways to the bidding process for the Union Learning Fund). A number of SSCs are also playing a key role in facilitating the new Industrial Partnerships.

The government is currently piloting major changes to the skills system and skills funding in England through the Employer Ownership Pilot. The TUC has expressed support for some key aspects of Round 2 of the Employer Ownership pilot, in particular the development of new Industrial Partnerships designed to promote an industry-led strategic approach to skills in a sector. These partnerships are being funded by government and leading employers in the sector and they are designed to link in with the priority sectors identified by the government in its national industrial strategy.

Five industrial partnerships were officially launched during summer 2014 covering the following sectors:

  • Energy;
  • Creative Industries;
  • Science;
  • Information Economy and
  • Nuclear.

Three additional IPs were announced in November 2014 covering the Aerospace, Automotive and Tunnelling sectors.

TUC Education have produced an eNote on Industrial Partnerships. To access eNotes, you must register on the TUC Education website.

One of unionlearn's priorities is to support union involvement in the work of Sector Skills Councils and the new Industrial Partnerships. Unionlearn works closely with affiliated unions to identify suitable candidates to sit on the boards and sub-committees of Sector Skills Councils and Industrial Partnerships to ensure that workers have their voices heard.

Read unionlearn's Industrial Partnerships Briefing paper November 2014.

For further information please contact Iain Murray – [email protected].