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Vocational Training: Energy

Volume 475: debated on Thursday 8 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what vocational training and courses are available to provide the skills needed for the energy efficiency and renewable energy sectors; and whether there are plans further to establish such courses. (202628)

The Government are committed to developing a sustainable, innovative and productive economy that delivers a high level of employment, and a just society that promotes social inclusion, sustainable communities and personal well-being.

The Learning and Skills Council (LSC) is responsible for the commissioning and funding of post-16 education and training up to (but not including) higher education. Information on the number and type of courses is an operational matter for the LSC and I have asked Mark Haysom, the LSC chief executive, to write to the hon. Gentleman with further information. A copy of his reply will be placed in the House Library.

Letter from Mark Haysom, dated 8 May 2008:

I am writing in response to your Parliamentary Question that asked:

What vocational training and course are available to provide the skills needed for the energy efficiency and renewable energy sectors; and whether there are plans further to establish such courses.

The LSC holds data on vocational learning in England that is funded through the public purse. Through Colleges of Further Education and other training providers we support business and individuals to acquire the skills that they need to achieve personal and organisation aims.

However, the actual content of qualifications is largely decided by the Sector Skills Councils, who represent employers in different sectors, and Awarding Bodies who develop qualifications to meet market need. There are a range of Sector Skills Councils with responsibility for occupations that require skills in energy efficiency and renewable energy, and as such no one Sector Skills Council is accountable specifically for this area of skill. The SSCs with most interest in renewables and energy efficiency include Construction Skills, Energy and Utility Skills, Built Environment (Summit Skills), property and facilities (Asset Skills), energy production and polymers (Cogent) and a range of manufacturing SSCs. Combined, these sectors account for a significant proportion of funded provision in England.

The SSCs are already supporting changes to provision, and courses are already being updated in line with the newest developments for example the addition of condensing boilers into standard heating and plumbing provision. Within the Energy and Utility Skills Sector Skills Council footprint there are 342 learning aims available to the sector, which represent 287 different qualifications. Within 2006/2007 there were a total of 11,781 individuals who enrolled on these qualifications which shows an increase of 17% on the previous year. In addition to these qualifications there are four apprenticeship frameworks specifically developed for the sector. The SSC will work with Awarding Bodies to ensure that the latest skills are taught within these programmes.

The courses available in the future will be largely developed in response to the requirements set out by Sector Skills Councils. Each SSC is currently producing a Sector Qualification Strategy (SQS) covering all skills and qualifications required by their sector, and this must be fully implemented by 2010 at the latest, supported by appropriate National Occupational Standards and robust Labour Market Intelligence. The SQS will set out the need for accredited qualifications and other learning provision in each sector, as part of the SQS, each SSC will produce an action plan with more detail about qualifications which they view as no longer fit for purpose or supported by employers (and which therefore should be removed) and those qualifications which need to be reformed or where new qualifications need to be developed. This process will provide the mechanism for updating skills in line with new technology.

In England, from August 2009 the LSC will align public funding with those qualifications highlighted in SQS and Action Plans which LSC identify as a priority for public funding (mediated by LSC and government targets and priorities). Where the LSC deems a qualification as not fit for purpose, the qualification will be made ineligible for continued public funding. This will ensure that up to date qualifications receive funding and out of date skills are no longer supported.