Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) are UK wide, independent, employer-led organisations who require a license from the UK Government to operate. There are currently 21 SSCs, covering over 80 per cent of the UK economy.
The Scottish Government's refreshed Skills Strategy - Skills for Scotland: Accelerating the Recovery and Increasing Sustainable Economic Growth - recognises that involving employers in skills debates is essential to ensuring that the training and education systems that are in place in Scotland are responsive to their demands for skills. The skills strategy sets out what the Scottish Government expects SSCs in Scotland to do in their sector, including:
· Working with Industry Advisory Groups on employer engagement to advise on future skills needs of businesses.
· Working together by supporting effective clustering work around Scotland's key and high participation sectors.
· Consulting with employers to further develop National Occupational Standards upon which Modern Apprenticeship frameworks are based.
· Working with Skills Development Scotland and other key industry bodies to develop stronger evidence based Labour Market Information (LMI) across the key sectors.
SSCs have built strong working relationships with the four Governments across the UK, training providers, bodies which fund training and other important skills stakeholders.
The near future will see many challenges to the SSC network in Scotland: not only will the total amount of funding for SSCs from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) be substantially reduced over the current UK Comprehensive Spending Review period, but the funding model will change for 2012/13 and beyond from an 'equal shares' core funding basis to a contestable model in which the SSCs will bid for funding support for specific proposals. We will continue to work closely with the SSCs to ensure that their activities meet Scottish needs and deliver on Scottish Government priorities.