Improve's 2007 plan to cut skills shortages

SKILLS IN food and drink manufacturing will be boosted by a plan being prepared by Improve, the sector skills council.

The sector skills action-plan (SSA), ready for launch in January 2007, will set out what needs to be done to alleviate skill shortages, that can result in unfilled vacancies, and skill gaps, and can prevent employees from fulfilling their potential.

Improve chief executive, Jack Matthews, said: "The SSA will be the live, overarching guide that determines the entire programme of skills development in the sector. It will be the business plan that maps everything we do. The task of devising, managing implementation, and continuously developing the Sector Skills Action-plan is without doubt our most important function."

The launch will mark a year of research and consultation with representatives of employers, public and private training providers, and government departments, who all have to agree on the plan before it can be implemented.

Mr Matthews said: "So far the response to our initiatives from all parties involved has been excellent, and we are working hard to ensure that the training provision is properly reformed to address the needs of employers.

"I am sure that the consultation process for the Sector Skills Action-plan will attract a great deal of interest and, crucially, extensive input from all of our partners engaged in this exciting skills development programme."

Speaking to the Journal at the Meat Training Council (MTC) annual awards recently, chief executive of the MTC, David Grailey, said it was important for the meat sector to recognise that people with qualifications made a significant contribution to their employer's businesses. He said gaining qualifications was important for the industry because it helped to boost production and recruitment.

"There's definitely a need for the industry to recognise that there is a need for qualifications and the additional benefits that these qualifications bring," he said.