CC Skills backs reform to fight gaps in arts training

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Training body Creative and Cultural Skills has called for the industry to use government pledges on further education, set out in this year's Queen's Speech, to combat skill gaps in the performing arts.

Building on plans put forward in a White Paper earlier this year, the government has promised legislation that will enable further education colleges in England to award some degrees and will expand foundation degrees, which are traditionally more vocational. Other reforms include the potential for free training up to the age of 25, with colleges encouraged to specialise and go into partnership with the private sector to create courses that are tailored better for workplace needs.

CC Skills chief executive Tom Bewick said a new emphasis on work-related skills and vocational training that is more responsive to the needs of the industry was to be welcomed and added that the plans could be used to develop the performing arts.

He commented: "We've already identified some glaring skills gaps, notably around backstage technical skills. The position right now is that employers are crying out for good technical staff while at the same time there is a large group of untrained people out there wondering how you break into the industry.

"In a good many cases we're talking about people from non-academic backgrounds and minority communities."

The proposed legislation acknowledges it is important that employers set the agenda for vocational skills but Bewick warned that the suppliers of training - further education colleges - need to be "signed up to that agenda" and offer qualifications that meet the needs of businesses in the real world.

The government has also outlined plans to streamline the Learning and Skills Council, replacing the quango with nine regional councils in England, which will be given more powers of intervention in failing establishments.

In her speech at the state opening of Parliament, the Queen said the aim was to "reform the further education system so it can better equip people with the skills that they and the economy need".