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Terry Watts, Chief Executive of Proskills (right) and Lord Young (left)Lord Young joined senior industry figures at official launch of the National Skills for Materials, Production & Supply (NSAMPS). Lord Young, Minister at the newly created Department for Business Innovation & Skills joined with senior representatives and employers from the process and manufacturing sector, which includes the Print and Paper industries, for the official launch in London, of the National Skills Academy for Materials, Production & Supply (NSAMPS).

The introduction of the new Academy, which is being launched to provide a gateway to quality-assured, industry-relevant skills training programmes and solutions, comes at a time when research1 has revealed that 68% of the largest employer organisations in the process & manufacturing sector are suffering from skills shortages. More significantly, 82% of companies across the footprint have confirmed that these skills gaps are having a negative effect on their business.

Joining the Minister for the nationwide unveiling of The Academy is Geoff Russell, Chief Executive of the Learning Skills Council (LSC), David Szymanski, Managing Director of Hanson Building Products, Tony Burke, Assistant General Manager of UNITE the UNION and Terry Watts, Chief Executive of Proskills UK.

The National Skills Academy for Materials, Production and Supply becomes the 11th skills Academy to be established as part of the Government’s expanding National Skills Academy network.

Kevin Brennan, Minister for Further Education, Skills, Apprenticeships and Consumer Affairs at The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said, “I am delighted to be opening the National Skills Academy for Materials, Production and Supply (NSAMPS). It will help improve the skills of the current and future workforce by putting employers in the driving seat to shape training and nurture the talents of a new generation of workers. This government continues to invest in National Skills Academies because we want to build a system which meets the needs of businesses and individuals and creates a world-beating workforce which will support the industry’s future development.”

The National Skills Academy for Materials, Production & Supply will offer a new delivery mechanism for a range of industry-specific skills training products and services that are industry-endorsed and designed to meet the needs of the sector. Built on a ‘3D approach’ to training, this simple structure will give maximum benefit to employers, employees and learners that use it, taking them through the three key stages to successful skills development: Diagnostic, Directory and Delivery.

The Academy will provide flexible, innovative and cost-effective training solutions via a web portal, which will make training provision easier, simpler and more accessible for businesses of every shape and size, providing maximum sectoral and regional reach. Physical provision includes Employer Learning Centres that will provide state of the art classroom teaching as well as workshops for practical hands on training.

Commenting on the announcement, Terry Watts, Chief Executive of Proskills said, “As research has highlighted, training is no longer an option but a necessity and one that could make the difference between survival and failure. Our Academy couldn’t have come at a better time for our employers, especially as the recession forces companies to review the skills of their workforce. With staff cuts putting a greater strain on the remaining workforce and irreplaceable skills lost through redundancy, never before have skills been more important. But we know from the employer support that we have, that ‘skills activism’ truly is a reality in our sector and that the Academy is indeed a timely response.”

Mr Watts continued, “Over the years, we have listened to our employers call for simplification as they have voiced the challenges they have faced to gain easy access to industry-specific skills training provision, and we believe that the Academy will become THE delivery mechanism that will make all the difference.”

The National Skills Academy for Materials, Production & Supply will be run as a wholly owned subsidiary of Proskills, the Sector Skills Council for the process and manufacturing industries, which includes Print and Paper, under the direction of the Academy Board, comprising employers representing all of the eight industries that make up the sector as well as trade unions representatives.

Proskills UK has today also announced the appointment of Graeme Finch as the new General Manager for the National Skills Academy who will spearhead the ongoing development of the Academy to provide top class industry-specific skills training support and solutions based on employer demand.

Graeme Finch added, “This is a tremendously exciting time to be joining the team. From my experience, in mature industries, it is the people that are the key differentiator. Training your staff will give your business the competitive edge and make it stand out from the crowd, and I strongly believe that our National Skills Academy is the right and only way forward for businesses in our sector footprint.”