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Plan for Skills Academies

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A dozen new National Skills Academies are to be established to boost the country's skill levels.

The announcement, by Education and Skills Secretary Ruth Kelly, came at yesterday's Skills Summit 2005, hosted by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC).

It will see four employer-led academies set up by September 2006, with the rest up and running by 2008. They will follow in the footsteps of the Fashion Retail Academy, established by retail firm, Arcadia with additional funding from the LSC.

Employers will be able to develop proposals for sector-based academies, aimed to be national centres of excellence, through their Sector Skills Councils.

Chair of the Sector Skills Development Agency, Margaret Salmon, said that a number of Sector Skills Councils were already working with employers in their sector to draw up plans for an Academy to meet their particular needs.

"As there is no single model for exactly what a Skills Academy should look like, employers, through their Sector Skills Council, are free to come up with innovative and creative ways of ensuring that their Skills Academy designs and delivers programmes which meet their needs," she said.

Kelly also announced that employers in the North West and the West Midlands will be able to access a trial giving them additional support to train their employees to Level 3 within the National Employer Training Programme (NETP). The NETP, which will be rolled out across the country later this year, aims to encourage more employers to get involved in workforce development to help raise the nations' skills levels.

The move aims to bridge significant skills gaps in technician, advanced craft, skilled trade and associate professional skills. By 2012 it is estimated that two-thirds of jobs will be at this level and require Level 3 qualifications (equivalent to two A-levels).

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