South West Regional Skills Enterprise and Employment Analysis 2007/2008
4.6 Sector Priorities
In the preceding analysis, we highlighted the sectoral foci of skills shortages, skill gaps and future skills needs. In this section, we examine the priorities identified by SSCs covering key sectors for the South West.
To determine what actions may be taken in support of these sectors, it is necessary to have a more in-depth analysis of the nature of the sector and the particularities of its needs. To assist with this, SLIM has undertaken an extensive review of SSAs, and where they have not yet been developed, the Skills Needs Assessments of SSCs.
The analysis maps these SSC priorities to the priorities of the RSP, its Task and Finish groups and the activities that government has tasked RSPs to take forward. This analysis was conducted through a review of SSC literature outlining skills priorities for the sector and through mapping the issues raised by each sector against a matrix of ESP concerns. Table 8 below is a summary of this analysis indicating the intensity of the issues facing each sector. A complete and detailed version of the analysis is presented in a working paper, Review of Skills, Enterprise and Employment in the South West 2007: Sector Analysis (Sector Analysis). A series of short narrative reports have been produced for each of the sectors analysed and these are also presented in the Sector Analysis.
It should be noted that different SSCs are at very different stages of the SSA process. Pathfinders have developed Skills Assessments, Reviews of Provision, SSAs and Action Plans. Some Tranche 4 SSCs have yet to complete their Stage 1 Skills Assessments. The fact that some SSCs have specific Action Plans while others are still scoping the main issues for their sector is important and slightly distorts the study. This is because more SSCs have considered and flagged up the broad issues for their sector, e.g. demographic change, than have developed specific plans on how to respond to policies, such as the 14-19 agenda or Train to Gain.
Thus, while a crude ‘scoring’ system has been used within the matrix to highlight concerns that are most common and deepest felt, this should treated as a starting point for discussion, rather than any definitive analysis. This analysis will also need to be updated as new SSC information becomes available(29). In addition, SLIM has further developed and updated the Sector Balance Sheet. This allows us to look at comparable data sources for each sector.
One of the difficulties in undertaking the analysis is the quality and depth of the SSAs and the underpinning analysis. Comparisons are often difficult and the depth of regional analysis is also patchy. In the case of those sectors identified as priorities for action, thought should be given to strengthening the regional analysis. The Construction industry has established its own regional skills observatory. Less well-resourced SSCs may need to be supported to develop similar initiatives.
Additional information from this SLIM Sector Analysis has been integrated throughout this report in specific sections. As tables below show, the significant cross-cutting themes are:
Leadership and Management – improving the quality of Leadership and Management skills was the single clearest priority to emerge in this analysis of SSC skills needs. However, it is also clear that managers in different sectors have very different skills and face very different issues. Indeed, most individual sectors have a wide variety of leadership and management requirements. (see Section 4.11)
Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) – linked very broadly to the need to attract new entrants into the industry and improve the image of certain sectors, currently seen as unattractive to new entrants (see Section 4.14)
Level 3 Skills – this is linked most clearly to the needs for technical skills (see Section 4.4).
Improving the supply of apprenticeships - Many SSCs want to improve the supply of apprenticeships and see a role for themselves in encouraging employers to provide opportunities. A number of SSCs have concerns about the ‘bureaucratic and inflexible’ nature of apprenticeship frameworks and see themselves as having a role in developing these (see Section 4.13).
Improving the supply of Level 2 skills - Level 2 increasingly regarded as a foundation requirement by many sectors. Links made between Level 2 and IT skill needs, e.g. point of sale technology, customer/client records etc. The emphasis on customer service is raised by many. Focus of discussion and concern increasingly on technological and organisational changes that are starting to make Level 3 the essential requirement for competitiveness in their industries.
Table 8: Summary of Sector Analysis
Table 9: Ranked Priorities of SSCs (Click image to open in new window)
(29) A process of giving a ‘score’ differentiates between the key priorities (2 points) for each sector and issues raised as matters of concern (1 point). Note that with 10 sectors assessed and only 2 points allowed per activity the ‘scores’ are out of maximum of 20.
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