Opinion Former Article

Cogent: Sector Skills Councils' partnership plan set to benefit small companies

Four Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) have announced they are joining forces to secure the future of the UK manufacturing and engineering sectors through the Productivity and Competitiveness (PAC) programme. The PAC Programme has been formed by leading engineers who have pooled their core techniques in lean process and manufacturing to create a new and different approach specifically designed to help smaller companies.

The alliance of SSCs, called the Manufacturing Skills Alliance (MSA), is made up of:

  • Cogent, the SSC for the Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals, Oil and Gas, Nuclear, Petroleum and Polymer Industries
  • Improve, the SSC for the Food and Drink Manufacturing Industry
  • Proskills, the SSC for the Building Products, Coatings, Extractives, Furniture, Glass, Paper and Printing Manufacturing and Processing Industries
  • Semta, the SSC for Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies

A recent PAC/B-IT pilot programme in the West Midlands has anticipated a total increase in profitability of more than £1.3million. The pilot saw 14 companies go through the PAC programme with companies involved seeing an average of £93,000 increase in profitability. One company involved, HydroBolt, a manufacturer and supplier of bespoke fasteners from Wolverhampton, saw a continuous improvement and a £9,000 increase in output.

Through measurements of quality, cost and delivery, on site PAC analysts work to assess the performance of manufacturing and engineering companies and facilitate increased productivity and bottom line benefit through seven key measures. In order that skills and knowledge acquired are sustainable, selected staff subsequently undertake Business Improvement Techniques (B-IT) NVQ qualifications.

Joanna Woolf, Chief Executive of Cogent, a member of the Manufacturing Skills Alliance said:

"We are delighted that the pilot has been such a tremendous success. PAC enables employers to really increase and sustain productivity and competitiveness. According to recent Semta research, skills shortages are estimated to cost £700 million per year in lost productivity in England alone which highlights that programmes like PAC and B-IT are essential in enabling UK companies to compete globally; the benefits of PAC are clear and quantifiable and can have a huge impact on the bottom line of small to medium sized businesses."

Companies interested in finding out more about PAC should contact Semta Customer Services on 0845 643 9001 or email customerservices@semta.org.uk or visit www.semta.org.uk

- Ends -

For further information please contact:

James Cameron at Consolidated PR on 020 7781 2316 or email: jamesc@consol.co.uk


· The PAC programme is an initiative by the Manufacturing Skills Alliance i.e. Cogent, Improve, Proskills and Semta and various National Skills Academies. PAC was originally launched by Industry Forum.
· The PAC and B-IT programme takes 6 to 9 months, and the total cost to the company ranges from £3k to £5k.
· There are currently around 20 PAC analysts in the UK and the number is growing.

There is a network of 25 employer-led Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) tasked by the governments of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland with ensuring employers have people with the right skills to boost productivity and competitiveness.

Cogent (Sector skills council for the chemicals, pharmaceuticals, nuclear, oil and gas, petroleum and polymer industries): www.cogent-ssc.com

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. There are 20,000 companies and 90,000 employees in Cogent's sector.

Improve Ltd (Sector Skills Council for the Food and Drink Manufacturing Industry in the UK): www.improveltd.co.uk

Improve Ltd is dedicated to addressing the skills needs of the industry. ImproveSkills has been introduced to highlight the great work which Improve Ltd is undertaking in addressing the specific skills issues faced in the industry.

Proskills (Sector Skills Council for the process and manufacturing sector): www.proskills.co.uk

Proskills is the SSC for the Process and Manufacturing sector, a major part of the UK economy, including the Coatings, Extractives, Glass, Building Products, Printing, Paper and the Furniture, Furnishings and Interiors industries, consisting of 55,000 employers and over 800,000 employees.

Semta (Sector Skills Council for Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies): www.semta.org.uk

Semta is the employer-led skills council for Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies in the UK. The sectors it represents are: Aerospace, Automotive, Bioscience, Electrical, Electronics, Maintenance, Marine, Mathematics, Mechanical, Metals and Engineered Metal Products and Science. Its role is to the raise skills levels and competitiveness in the 76,000 companies and 1.9 million-strong workforce that make up these sectors

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