UK Government

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills: Sector Skills Councils Relicensing - Further Decision Announced

Press Release   •   Dec 11, 2009 11:34 GMT

Four further Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) have been relicensed, Business, Innovation and Skills Secretary Lord Mandelson announced today, on behalf of the UK Government and the Devolved Administrations.

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.

Creative & Cultural Skills (covering the creative and cultural sector), Lantra (covering the environmental and land-based sector), Proskills (covering the process and manufacturing sector) and Skillsmart Retail (covering the retail sector) have been successful in their applications for further trademark licences to operate as SSCs and have gone through a comprehensive assessment process led by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills.

Business, Innovation and Skills Secretary Lord Mandelson said:

“Employers can be confident that the Sector Skills Councils relicensed today have come through a rigorous assessment and will offer employers the highest quality service in meeting their skills 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.

He said: “Sector Skills Councils are the principal mechanism by which employers can exert influence over the UK’s education, skills and training systems.  As such, it is vitally important that they operate effectively.  The relicensing process has been designed to ensure just this, and the announcement that a further four SSCs have reached the required standards is an endorsement of their effectiveness. The renewal of these licences also gives confidence to the government that each of these SSCs is truly backed by its industry, has the support of employers and is properly equipped to identify the skills needs of its sector.”

The NAO reports and the recommendations of the Relicensing Panel are available at both and

Notes to editors

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.

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.

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.

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 and Skills, but may not appeal against the Ministerial decision.

Full copies of the assessment reports and relicensing panel recommendations are available at

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.

More information, including a detailed description of the relicensing process, is available at – click on Sector Skills Councils.

Further information from Alex Curling, Head of Press, UKCES, 01709 774890

and Jo Fletcher, BIS press office, 020 7215 5951.

About the Department for Business Innovation & Skills.

The Department for Business Innovation and Skills will promote open and competitive markets, proportionate regulation, an enterprise and innovation culture, skilled people, thriving universities, life-long learning and world-class science, technology and research.


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