I have been asked to reply.
Sir John Egan was commissioned in April 2003 by my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister to review the skills and training required to deliver sustainable communities. His “Review of Skills for Sustainable Communities” was published in April 2004. His key recommendation was the formation of a national centre to drive forward a new integrated approach to skills development.
The Government responded by establishing the Academy for Sustainable Communities (ASC) to improve the skills, knowledge and behaviours needed to deliver and maintain sustainable communities across the country. The ASC's aim is to challenge the tendency to adopt a silo approach by encouraging greater cross-profession and cross-organisation working. It focuses in particular on broader, generic skills such as project management, visioning, communication, partnership working and community engagement.
It is not a major training provider but rather looks to influence other providers and to lead the market where gaps exist. Through the establishment of a learning framework and resource hub, it will inform and spread best practice across the range of sustainable communities' issues and professions.
The ASC is also working with partners in the EU to identify generic skills gaps across Europe and share good practice between member states. It will host a European Skills Symposium in Leeds in November 2006.