Opinion Former Article

Cogent's National Skill Academies set to drive up skills and talent in nuclear and process industries.

Cogent Sector Skills Council's employer-led proposal for a National Skills Academy for the Nuclear Industry has been given the go-ahead by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) it was announced today.

Cogent is in the unique position of leading on two National Skills Academies which will specialise in excellence in learning for the sector.

A decision on the business plan for the National Skills Academy for the Process Industries (chemicals, pharmaceuticals and polymers), is expected to follow in due course.

The decision for the National Skills Academy for Nuclear follows the Government's evaluation of a detailed business plan, which was drawn-up over a six month period in close collaboration with employers. The plan was put together by a dedicated Project Team, under the stewardship of Project Director Jean Lllewellyn.

Craig Crowther is driving the National Skills Academy for the Process Industries with the support of leading employers.

Cogent research shows its science-using sector needs thousands of suitably qualified science graduates and multi-skilled technicians if it is to succeed and compete in the global economy. The sector faces pressing skills shortages, and compounding the situation, an ageing workforce means that many of those who have years of experience and the right skills are retiring, taking all their knowledge and expertise with them.

Cogent has been set up to ensure that both current employees and people entering the Cogent industries have the right skills to ensure a sustainable future for the hi-tech, science-using sector.

Cogent recognised that part of the solution was to drive up standards - and that Government-licensed Skills Academies would be ideally placed to work with training providers and education institutions to do this. It put in bids last year for two National Skills Academies to cover key areas of its sector.

Supported by industry, the Skills Academies will be centres of excellence for training and development, ensuring high-quality learning provision across the UK. They will both become subsidiaries of Cogent, retaining independence under the direction of an employer-led Board.

The new Skills Academies will build upon existing excellence within colleges and learning providers around the country. They will work with Cogent to ensure that employers get the highly skilled employees they need now and in the future.

Joanna Woolf, Cogent CEO, said:

"The go ahead for the National Skills Academy for Nuclear is excellent news for industry and for its current and future workforce, and we acknowledge the tremendous efforts of Jean Llewellyn and the business planning team. Thanks also go the Skills Academy employer-led Board for their inspiration and leadership and to all those companies who have shown faith and commitment to the project and also contributed financially."
She added: "It is vital for our industries to be able to recruit and equip people with the right competencies and skills and Cogent's National Skills Academies have the expertise, the authority and the close relationship with employers to make this happen."

Jean Llewellyn Project Director of the National Skills Academy Nuclear said:

"Throughout the planning stage, nuclear employers have been at the forefront of this National Skills Academy. It is their Skills Academy which has been developed to meet their needs, and going forward, it will continue to be steered by an employer-led Board, which will ensure the nuclear industry has the skills it needs to continue as a World-Class industry."
Based on Cogent defined standards and qualifications, the National Skills Academies will define and accredit regional training and education provision, which will sit within a national Cogent framework. This will set out the world-class skills and education provision designed to support the Cogent industries to be competitive and sustainable in the global economy.

David Lammy, Skills Minister, said:

"It is great news that we are able to welcome the Nuclear sector to the National Skills Academy Network, and this moves us a step closer to reaching our 2008 target for National Skills Academies. I congratulate the development team for the National Skills Academy for Nuclear in meeting the rigorous criteria required for approval, and I welcome the proposed investment commitment from employers. National Skills Academies are vital for the future productivity of this country as they address the real need for industry-specific training that is developed by employers and delivered in a way that best meets individual sector requirements".

Employer support

Nuclear industries

Employers who have already provided financial support to the National Skills Academy include BNFL, NDA, Serco, UKAEA and Washington Group International.
The Skills Academy Shadow Board has representatives from multinational organisations, large employers and SME including Amec, BNFL, British Energy, British Nuclear Group, Centronic, Doosan Babcock, Fluor, MOD, NDA, Prospect, Serco and UKAEA.

Process Industries

Employers supporting the National Skills Academy include SembCorp Utilities UK, Invista Performance Technologies, Johnson Matthey, Innospec Specialty Chemicals, Banner Chemicals Ltd, Solutia UK Limited and Black Cat Fireworks Ltd.

The Skills Academy Shadow Board has representatives from multinationals including BASF PLC, SABIC UK Petrochemicals, Degussa, LINPAC Plastics Limited, INEOS Olefins and GSK and SMEs Reaxa, Contract Chemicals and Linecross Limited spearheading the development of the Academy.

About Cogent

Cogent is the Sector Skills Council for the chemicals, pharmaceuticals, nuclear, oil and gas, petroleum and polymer industries. It is the voice of employers in these sectors and is working with them to create a skills environment that businesses need to be innovative, competent, productive and sustainable.

The development of the NSA concept

The NSA policy initiative was first announced in the 2005 Skills White Paper which included a commitment to establish a network of National Skills Academies covering each major sector of the economy. The White Paper referred to the need to build on existing models, and it also gave a commitment that employers were going to be given the lead role in developing Skills Academies. The White Paper said that beyond some general principles the Government 'will not prescribe what an Academy should be' and 'it will be for the employers in each sector to take the initiative in working out the approach that will best meet their needs'.

For further information contact:

Judith Cowan on 01925 515 214 judith.cowan@cogent-ssc.com
Or Mervin Dadd on 01925 515 212 mervin.dadd@cogent.ssc.com


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