Proskills funding cut as government support for manufacturing called into question

Posted on 11 Jan 2012 by Tim Brown

Proskills, the sector skills council representing process industries such as glass, paper, wood, ceramics, and building products manufacturing, is facing closure after failing to secure funding from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UK CES).

According to a report in The Daily Telegraph, other equivalent sector skills councils faired much better with the financial services body awarded £1.7m, the hospitality and leisure organisation £6.8m, and the creative media body £6m.

Chief executive of Proskills Terry Watts said that schemes, such as a programme which sees Proskills members train design and manufacturing skills to 20,000 GCSE students each year, are under threat. Proskills members are almost exclusively small and medium-sized companies, which contribute a combined £68bn to the economy while employing 780,000. He said Proskills now had only a “50-50” chance of survival after it did not receive any backing in a recent public funding round.

John White, chief executive of the Timber Trade Federation – the wood industry is one of nine represented by Proskills – has written to business secretary Vince Cable demanding an explanation for “this utterly bizarre decision which flies in the face of everything the Government says it wants industry to do”.

Mr White said: “The required investment was small. The return great. Is this not exactly the sort of investment we should encourage to support our economic recovery?”

A spokesman for UK CES said decisions were based on the “strongest proposals that could make a significant change to the skills agenda. All decisions were based on bids from sectors whose employers were able to demonstrate overwhelming ownership, strong ambition and leadership on skills”.

Mr Watts said Proskills was disadvantaged since decisions were influenced by how much employers were willing to contribute to projects.

Sector skills councils (SSCs) are government-licensed independent, employer-led bodies. The £61m of funding adminsitered by UK CES, which comes from the Government’s Employer Investment Fund, was awarded to SSCs as follows:

  • People 1st / GoSkills: Hospitality, Leisure, Passenger Transport, Travel and Tourism – £6,789,864
  • Skillset: TV, Film, Radio, Interactive Media, Advertising, Animation, Computer Games, Facilities, Photo Imaging, Publishing, Fashion and Textiles – £6,000,000
  • SEMTA: Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies – £5,000,000
  • Skills for Justice: Policing & Law Enforcement, Youth Justice, Custodial Care, Community Justice, Courts Service, Prosecution Services, Forensic Science, Fire Rescue Services and Legal Services – £4,882,426
  • Cogent: Chemical and Pharmaceutical, Oil, Gas, Nuclear, Petroleum and Polymers, Life Sciences – £4,817,047 
  • e-skills UK: IT and Telecoms – £4,200,000
  • Skills for Logistics: Freight Logistics and Wholesaling Industry – £3,955,366
  • Energy and Utility Skills: Energy, Waste and Utilities – £3,471,884
  • Institute of the Motor Industry: Retail Motor Industry – £3,150,535
  • Creative & Cultural Skills: Craft, Cultural Heritage, Design, Literature, Music, Performing Arts and Visual Arts – £3,064,716
  • Skills for Health: UK Health – £3,028,000
  • Lantra: Environmental and Land-based – £2,909,161
  • Skills for Care and Development: Social Care, Children, Early Years and Young People’s Workforces in the UK – £2,200,000
  • Asset Skills: Property, Housing, Cleaning Services, Facilities Management and Parking – £2,026,000
  • Financial Skills Partnership: Finance, Accountancy and Financial Services – £1,762,637
  • Improve: Food and Drinks Manufacturing and Processing – £1,636,210
  • Construction Skills: Construction – £1,362,434
  • SkillsActive: Sport and Recreation, Health and Fitness, Outdoors, Playwork and Caravanning Industry – £893,672
  • Proskills: Building Products, Ceramics, Coatings, Extractives, Furniture, Glass, Paper, Print, Wood. – £0