Opinion Former Article

Skills for Justice takes Legal Services under its wing

Skills for Justice, the sector skills council for justice and community safety across the UK, is delighted to announce that its work to help employers develop the skills of their people is now extending to include Legal Services.

Skills for Justice, which works to develop skills for safer communities, will bring a new perspective and a wealth of expertise to help employers providing Legal Services to identify and address their skills and workforce development needs. Employer organisations will be able to benefit from the wide range of workforce development services and skills solutions that Skills for Justice currently provides to organisations such as the Police, Prisons, and Prosecution Services, Fire & Rescue, Forensic Science and charities such as Victim Support.

The move, agreed between Skills for Justice, the Law Society and the Legal Services Board, comes at a time of considerable change in the legal world. The Legal Services Act has brought changes to the regulation of the profession and introduced Alternative Business Structures - the globalisation of legal services, consideration of new routes to professional occupations, and the growing use of paralegals by firms of solicitors.

In this period of change it is vitally important that there is a strong focus on skills to ensure that standards are maintained and that the 450,000 people in the legal sector have the right skills at the right time to deliver world class legal services and preserve the UK's position as a recognised international centre of legal excellence.

Desmond Hudson, Chief Executive of the Law Society said

"The Law Society looks forward to working alongside Skills for Justice to ensure the needs of the legal workforce are both recognised and addressed. We are confident that those of our members who are employers will benefit from the inclusion of legal services in the Skills for Justice portfolio. The move will also benefit staff involved at all levels of the profession."

"This is a very positive step and will open up opportunities in terms of developing skills and sharing expert knowledge throughout the workforce, for the benefit of the public and the profession."

Skills for Justice Chief Executive Alan Woods OBE was equally pleased with the agreements made and said

"I am delighted with this decision. This is a really positive step and with more and more work heading the way of those people working in Legal Services who aren't fully qualified solicitors, a focus on ensuring the skills of these people are at the level they need to be is extremely important. I am looking forward to working closely with the Law Society and employers to open up new opportunities for people working in this area, not just in terms of qualifications, but standards and skills."

Skills for Justice will now be working closely with employers and key stakeholders across legal services to understand what the key skills and workforce development challenges are, which will help with the delivery of an initial programme of work which will include

. Labour Market Research - an analysis of the current and future workforce to identify skills priorities and create an action plan to address them
. An assessment of how learning and development is currently provided and an analysis of what the gaps and weaknesses are
. An investigation of the current and future qualifications needs of those working in the Legal Sector and an action plan to put them into place
. Defining career pathways within Legal Services
. Careers Information, Advice and Guidance materials to attract young people into the workforce and to help those people who may be considering a career change.

Skills for Justice last year added UK Fire & Rescue Services to its remit, and in Autumn 2009 was relicensed by the Government scoring a 'good' rating in all areas of its work, following rigorous assessment by the National Audit Office.

**Ends**

Notes to editors

Skills for Justice is employer-led and works in partnership to ensure that organisations in the Justice and Community safety sectors have the necessary skills and staff to be productive, efficient and effective.

We operate across the UK Justice sector, with offices in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, working with a variety of employers in Community Justice, Courts, Custodial Care, Police and Law Enforcement, Prosecution, Forensic Science, and the Children's Workforce.

Employer organisations can benefit from our expert knowledge of workforce development by becoming a subscribing organisation.

To find out more about Skills for Justice, visit www.skillsforjustice.com/mediacentre or contact

Ally Mogg

Marketing & Communications

Skills for Justice

Centre Court | Atlas Way | Sheffield | S4 7QQ

T: 0114 231 7387 | M: 07795 960707

www.skillsforjustice.com

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