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Interview of the month: Pauline Moylan, NTO National Council regional representative


The government has big plans for the National Training Organisation network in the next year. It may be subject to a review process at present, but the work of the 73 organisations which make up the network continues apace, both nationally and locally.

NTOs aim to provide a number of forms of support; these range from promoting lifelong learning, ILAs and IIP to employers, to supporting HE institutions to improve the vocational relevance of degree programmes, to working with employers and training providers to ensure NVQ frameworks remain relevant. They also produce Sector Workforce Development Plans, which set out the key skills needs in individual occupational sectors. This information is made available to government departments, particularly the DfEE and DTI, the Learning and Skills Council, Regional Development Agencies and the Small Business Service to inform their work.

With the local arms of the Learning and Skills Council recently established, the NTO National Council's regional representatives have new partnerships to establish alongside the existing contacts with Regional Development Agencies. One of the nine regions, South-West England, is an area with a population of 4.9 million and one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, but which has strong regional contrasts, with Cornwall having the lowest level of GDP per capita of any UK region but bigger cities such as Swindon struggling to fill job vacancies. It's Pauline Moylan's responsibility to represent the NTO National Council across this diverse region. We spoke to Pauline and Claire Anderton, the NTO National Council's External Relations Manager about the role that NTOs play locally. Pauline Moylan

TrainingZONE: Pauline, can you briefly describe your role to us as a regional representative?

Pauline Moylan: My role is to support the NTO Network in regional partnerships. Historically there hasn't been local involvement - there have only been regional representatives for a couple of years, and the South-West post is new. The Regional Development Agency (RDA) is sponsoring my role, which is initially for a year, on the basis that the NTO National Council has a key role to play as independent organisation - there's no conflict of interest.

The RDA itself in the South-West has priority sectors, as not all NTOs have relevance in this area. The RDA has recently revised priorities to cover seven main areas of importance - these are advanced engineering, ICT, tourism, marine and offshore technology, biotechnology, environmental technology, food and drink manufacturing. These sectors are being supported financially by the RDA - the aim is to engage the NTOs related to these areas in partnership with the local RDA.

TrainingZONE: Pauline, does your role involve visiting employers directly?

Pauline Moylan: No, it's the NTOs themselves which go out into the field - it's the role of sector specialists to do this. I facilitate the relationships. However, employers are sometimes present at strategy meetings.

TrainingZONE: Claire, how many people are doing a similar job to Pauline around the country?

Claire Anderton: There are nine regions, each with a named representative. Each region has support from the NTO National Council.

Pauline Moylan: Most of my work is outside the office - attending briefings with NTOs and other partners in the region.

TrainingZONE: What contact do you have with the Learning and Skills Council?

Pauline Moylan: Contact with the LSC is part of the role. One of the key responsibilities for NTO sectors is to lead partnerships, develop skills action plans and generally inform the planning of local LSCs. One of my colleagues is currently leading a project to design systems for NTOs to mesh effectively with local LSCs.

Claire Anderton: It's a case of making sure the interface between NTO sectors and local organisations works properly - it's a new focus. Historically there's been a different focus - during the 1960s and 1970s, the emphasis was on industry sectors when the Industry Training Boards were in existence, then in the late 1980s it shifted to concentrating on local needs and issues through the work of the TECs. It's now realised there's a need for sector input both locally and nationally.

TrainingZONE: Are you involved with Learning Partnerships?

Pauline Moylan: Yes. I have a responsibility nationally to oversee relationships with Learning Partnerships - my job is to evaluate the impact of this work. The NTO network needs to raise its profile as the first port of call for information on careers, for example. People need to know who we are and how we can help.

Claire Anderton: It's important for people to realise what the role of the (NTO) sectors is.

Pauline Moylan: There's a key role for NTOs in the regions to support professionals involved in providing careers information. A lot of sectors report difficulties in attracting young people, partly because of their poor image among young people. Part of our responsibility is developing comprehensive information for people involved in careers guidance. Of course, this sort of information doesn't remain static, as the skills needs of different sectors are constantly evolving.

TrainingZONE: Many of TrainingZONE's members are training providers and training managers. What can they gain from, or contribute to the NTO network?

Claire Anderton: We need to ensure training providers and managers are aware of specific areas of skills shortages, in order that training can be planned around these needs and honed towards the needs of employment market.

Pauline Moylan: It's become apparent to me that HR professionals could act as a lever to influence their CEOs and MDs...

Claire Anderton: Yes, they've a key role to play in driving up productivity.

Pauline Moylan: As a network, we have quite a low profile in this region. People might not know that they have an NTO. It's important for people to know that the occupational standards NTOs produce are available to all - and that they cover 93 per cent of UK occupations. It may well be we can offer the thing they're looking for or trying to develop. We haven't been engaged in local partnerships until recently - apart from engineering and the CITD. A number of the smaller NTOs concentrate their funds on key regions where their areas of work are most highly concentrated. The RDA might not consider all of these a priority though.

Claire Anderton: The message is for people to get in touch with their NTOs. They will be able to provide basic information, but also some of the standard intelligence and Skills Foresight information (bi-annual surveys) could be useful for training providers. There are also 16 skills dialogues which operate cross-sector which are looking at identifying skills gaps.

Pauline Moylan: There are also a couple of spin-off benefits that go wider than the employed workforce. We've found that two other channels of funding and support which would benefit are the Employment Service, which is taking over the job of arranging training for the unemployed from TECs, and The Rapid Response Fund sponsored by the DfEE, which provides support in redundancy situations. It's vital that both know there are Sector Workforce Plans in place - there's no point in money being spent on jobs that aren't there. This is the kind of work that NTOs need to do more of.

TrainingZONE: Will the probable merger of smaller NTOs detract from their local work?

Claire Anderton: In our response to government we've stressed that their value is important. We also need to make sure that NTOs have their roots in employment bodies but that they also work with partners. The focus of the consultation is that sectors have got to play a stronger part alongside the LSC and RDAs. There will be changes over the next 18 months, and there'll probably a transition period to the new structure, which should be in place around April 2003.

Pauline Moylan: In this region, there's anecodotal and other evidence that employers in different sectors are dealing with common issues. They may appear generic problems, but there's a clear indication that in order to engage employers, we need to speak their language.

Claire Anderton: We'd also like to see the NTO sectors integrated throughout government departments, not just the DfEE.

For more information about NTO work in the South West region, contact Pauline Moylan, Regional Manager for the South West, NTO National Council. To find out more about the work of NTOs, or to find out which sectors cover which industries, see


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