01 November 2007
Skills and qualifications – where do we stand?
by John Whitley
For many years now Government has encouraged and promoted skills and qualifications in the workplace, through a variety of structures and mechanisms. The old Industry Training Organisations were amalgamated into National Training Organisations (NTOs) and then further streamlined into Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) under the governance of the Sector Skills Development Agency. The Publishing Industry was the last NTO to be formed and had barely put down roots when a dose of weed-killer was applied and it withered away.
But it did not die completely. In 2005 a group of publishing industry training professionals came together as The Publishing Skills Group, under the chairmanship of Sally Morris, then the Chief Executive of ALPSP. The group represented the training interests of book, journal, online, database, magazine and newspaper publishers and ensured that valuable research on skills, standards and qualifications continued, though outside the newly created SSC structure.
However Government made it very clear that any funding available to the group would only be as an interim arrangement. Going forward the Group would need to join the SSC network if it wished to sustain a link to ongoing funding. After much heart-searching and debate about the best way to go the PSG is pleased to confirm that the waiting is over. PSGs primary relationship with the network will be with Skillset, the SSC for broadcast, film, video and multimedia industries, though full details of the integration of publishing within the SSC structures remain to be worked through.
This is a sound move. Whilst some parts of the Government agenda for skills and qualifications may not be relevant, organisations and individuals will continue to benefit from the wealth of funded research and development on critical work-based skills issues. The National Occupational Standards will be sustained and developed, qualifications explored and promoted and skills pathways for our new generation of publishing professionals will be researched and made available.