UK Government

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (National): Sector Skills Councils Relicensing – Decision for Skillfast-UK Announced

Press Release   •   Dec 16, 2009 11:25 GMT

Following advice from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills Lord Mandelson, the Business, Innovation and Skills Secretary, announced today, on behalf of the UK Government and the Devolved Administrations, that Skillfast-UK will not be relicensed as a Sector Skills Council (SSC) in its own right. Government is keen to see alternative arrangements put in place that ensure that the skill needs of the industry continue to be met, and the SSC’s Board has already taken steps to secure appropriate representation for the fashion and textiles sector. Skillfast-UK will set out their plans for maintaining continuity in meeting the skill needs of employers in moving forward. To assist Skillfast-UK in managing the transition Government has agreed to the UK Commission’s request to continue to licence Skillfast-UK as an SSC to 31st March 2010. Government has asked the UK Commission to work closely with Skillfast-UK to secure continuity of support for the sector. Skills Minister Kevin Brennan said – “While Skillfast-UK will not be relicensed as the SSC for the fashion and textile industry in its own right, the positive work the SSC has delivered provides a platform for a successful transition. We recognise the need to offer employers a level of assurance that their skill needs will continue to be recognised and progressed. Government welcomes the work of the Skillfast-UK Board to secure alternative arrangements for progressing the skills needs of the industry.” Sector Skills Councils are employer-led bodies, established to enable employers to exert influence on the UK’s education and skills systems to ensure they meet their needs. The relicensing process is overseen and managed by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills through a panel chaired by Charlie Mayfield, who is also chairman of the John Lewis Partnership. The NAO reports and the recommendations of the Relicensing Panel are available at both and Notes to editors 1. All 25 Sector Skills Councils are currently undergoing a robust and rigorous relicensing assessment, in order to ensure they are as effective as possible. The relicensing process includes a performance assessment carried out by the National Audit Office on behalf of the UK Commission for Employment and Skills which manages the relicensing process. It focuses on assessing the SSCs against four key themes: how well run the organisation is; its ability to deliver core products and services; its ability to deliver sector specific solutions to employer demand; and, its ability to progress results and impacts. 2. The SSC relicensing assessment comprises a detailed review and report on each SSC by the NAO against a relicensing framework. The Relicensing framework (Empowering SSCs – Employer driven skills reform across the UK) was launched in July 2008 and is available on the UK Commission’s website. 3. Assessments of SSCs against the framework’s requirements are carried out by the National Audit Office. The NAO collect evidence on each SSC, including employer testimonies and stakeholder feedback when producing their assessment report. This report is then considered by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills in a process which includes site visits by a designated Commissioner and a full Relicensing Panel in which both the Chair and CEO of the SSC meet with Commissioners to make their case. Each recommendation is ratified by the full Commission. 4. The UK Commission for Employment and Skills then makes a recommendation to Ministers in England and the Devolved Administrations as to whether an individual SSC should receive a further licence. This recommendation is based upon both the NAO report and the deliberations of Commissioners. The decision to award or withhold a licence is made by Ministers in the UK Government and the Devolved Administrations. Sector Skills Councils may appeal against the recommendation made by the UK Commission for Employment, but may not appeal against the Ministerial decision. 5. Full copies of the assessment reports and relicensing panel recommendations are available at 6. The remit of the UK Commission for Employment and Skills is to provide vigorous and independent challenge, advising government at the highest levels across the UK on employment and skills strategy, targets, policies and progress towards the challenging competitiveness goals set by Lord Leitch, including the vision of an 80% employment rate by 2020. It has been asked by the government to report on crucial issues, such as the employability skills employers need for future economic success, how UK employers can use skills to become more globally competitive, and whether further institutional change is required to deliver better integrated employment and skills services. 7. More information, including a detailed description of the relicensing process, is available at – click on Sector Skills Councils. 8. Further information from Alex Curling, Head of Press, UKCES, 01709 774890, Jane Parsons, BIS press office, 020 7215 5947 or Louise Wood, Skillfast-UK, 0113 23 99 618 Department for Business, Innovation & Skills The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is building a dynamic and competitive UK economy by: creating the conditions for business success; promoting innovation, enterprise and science; and giving everyone the skills and opportunities to succeed. To achieve this it will foster world-class universities and promote an open global economy. BIS - Investing in our future. Contacts NDS Enquiries Phone: For enquiries please contact the above department