Sector skills council launched

A new Government-funded body has been launched to address skills gaps in the third sector and to make skills councils more responsive to the needs of charities and social enterprises.

The provisionally titled Third Sector Skills Body, announced at an NCVO conference in London on Tuesday, will initially be funded with a three-year, £2.5m grant from the Office of the Third Sector and the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills.

The body will not be a skills council in its own right, and will be hosted by skills council Skills for Justice.

Speaking at the launch event, training minister Lord Young said training in many of the skills the sector lacked was already provided by other skills councils, but not in a way that took the sector's specific needs into account.

"Sector employers feel they don't have the same degree of influence as other sectors," he said. "This new body will be a powerful voice within the skills system, influencing skills councils to take account of the needs of the sector."

Lord Young said he wanted the body to be independent of government and to appoint its own board of sector employers, who would draw up a business plan and explore future funding options. He said: "We want employers to want to be involved and contribute resources. Our role is to give the body a good start in life and know when to let go."

The body is expected to be operational by next April. An interim chair is expected to be announced shortly.

Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the NCVO, described the announcement as "an important step forward".

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