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Publishing fails to get a Sector Skills Council


The Department for Education and Skills has rejected the publishing media sector's training proposals to develop a Sector Skills Council saying the industry "is not of sufficient size to be considered of economic or strategic significance."

The decision has been met with disappointment in the industry. Employer and employment interests across national newspaper, regional newspaper, magazine, book and journal, directory and database, and electronic publishing joined forces with ambitious plans to develop the relatively new Publishing National Training Organisation into a Sector Skills Council.

Derek Grover, director of adult learning at the DfES wrote that the publishing industry's proposals to form a Sector Skills Council did not meet their criteria because: "the sector is not of sufficient size to be considered of economic or strategic significance".

The publishing sector generates revenues of over £30 billion and employs some 280,000 people in more than 14,500 businesses.

As the Publisher's Association have highlighted, the DFES's refusal contrasts with a statement from the e-commerce and competitiveness minister Stephen Timms. Mr Timms launched a report, commissioned by the Department of Trade and Industry, on the competitiveness of the UK publishing media, which recommended the urgent establishment of a strong publishing Sector Skills Council. "Publishing in the Knowledge Economy" describes the sector as one of the biggest in the country and stresses the sector's key role at the heart of the government's plans for broadband Britain.

Bob Phillis, chief executive of the Guardian Media Group and newly-elected chair of the Publishing NTO, commented on the failure to be accorded Sector Skills Council status: "This is a quite extraordinary decision. The publishing industries are one of Britain's largest investors in the information society. For the DfES to have dismissed the sector's proposals on the grounds of size and economic and strategic significance seems bizarre.

Joanne Butcher, chief executive of the Publishing NTO, said: "This news is astonishing given the progress the sector has made with its training arrangements since the launch of the Publishing NTO last year, which has the support and goodwill of employers across the sector. It is a major blow that the government is blocking the sector's proposals to develop a Sector Skills Council to raise skill levels and enhance career development opportunities for people working in publishing."


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