Consultation launched to strengthen skills in UK publishing

Skillset, the Sector Skills Council for the Creative Media Industries, announced on Wednesday that it was seeking feedback on its draft Skills Strategy for Publishing.

Launched at a parliamentary reception in Westminster, the strategy aims to ensure that employers in publishing can recruit people with the right skills for the job and to strengthen the global competitiveness of UK publishing by using skills as the route out of recession.  The strategy, which targets both the existing workforce and new entrants, was developed with detailed stakeholder involvement through the Publishing Skills Council.
 
Skillset Board member and Chair and CEO of Random House Group, Gail Rebuck CBE, said that the strategy was an important milestone and came at a crucial time for UK publishing:

“The publishing industry is dependent on its people and their collective skills.  Today we are highlighting this industry-led research which not only provides a comprehensive map of our industries, but also identifies many of the skills gaps and challenges we face as we aim to seize the opportunities of digital convergence.”
 
Commenting on the importance of skills and training, especially during these times of economic uncertainty, she went on to say:
 
“Skills requirements are changing at such a fast pace in our industry, that merely identifying and keeping up with demand is a challenge. Training is all too frequently one of the first casualties when times are tough, especially if it is characterised as a discretionary spend which can easily be cut.  So we have to reflect a little, and ask ourselves if we are fully prepared to lead our companies and equip our workforces during this time of immense change and uncertainty.”

Clive Jones CBE, Chair of Skillset said:

“This skills strategy provides the blueprint from which the UK publishing sector can plan for its future skill needs.  It aims to provide a degree of certainty for employers who want to be able to access a highly skilled workforce during these difficult times.”

The draft strategy covers the Book, Database and Directory, Journal, Magazine and Business Media, News Agency and Newspaper Publishing sectors.  It:

· provides a coherent framework to inform education, training and development  provision for the publishing industry;

· identifies key shared industry priorities at the same time as recognizing more  sector-specific skills needs; and,

· offers a basis for developing an action plan to meet industry needs: drawing  together existing good practice, effective on-going activities and new  initiatives.

The combined footprint of these sectors in the UK is significant with over 7,000 businesses employing over 200,000 people and total annual sales exceeding £18.5 billion.

John Whitley, Chair of Publishing Skills Council said:

"For UK publishing to remain globally competitive we need a training system capable of responding to employers' and individuals' demands - when, where and how they want it.

“To achieve this we need a coordinated strategy, bringing together the key players in Publishing, providing a flexible, responsive and customer-focused approach to skills training.,” he said.

Chief Executive of Skillset Dinah Caine, said:

“This strategy is the culmination of a year long effort working with our partners and researching the skills challenges confronting UK publishing.    

“But the work does not stop here – these are fast changing times and we need to have the input and views from companies and individuals right across the industry.  So I urge you all to read the consultation and feedback.  That way we can target what we do to support the priority skills issues in the industry.” she said. 

The results of the consultation will then be incorporated into the final strategy which will be developed into a Publishing Sector Profile and Action Plan in May 2009.  These reports will define the priorities and actions that Skillset and partners will focus on to improve the skills of the Publishing workforce.  All interested parties are invited to submit their feedback no later than Thursday 9 April. 

Copies of the draft strategy can be downloaded at http://www.skillset.org/publishing/consultation/.  A print copy is available on request by emailing Louise Franklin at louisef@skillset.org or calling 020 7713 9849. 

For further information visit the Skillset website at www.skillset.org