By 2020, all publicly funded design courses will need to be endorsed by industry employers if independent recommendations about the UK’s skills needs are adopted.
Plans to give employers a bigger say in skills and qualifications are at the heart of the Leitch Review, an independent report delivered by Lord Sandy Leitch to HM Treasury in December. The review aims to make the UK a world leader in skills terms.
Its objectives will be largely achieved through the Sector Skills Councils, which will be charged with engaging employers and encouraging them to specify the types of skills they need from prospective employees.
Creative & Cultural Skills oversees design and is midway through its own consultation on the design industry’s future via its Design Skills Advisory Panel.
According to Tom Bewick, chief executive of CCS, the Leitch Review provides ‘powerful context’ for the panel’s forthcoming recommendations, due to be delivered in spring this year.
‘Leitch means that the panel’s findings will not just be a random set of recommendations, but will have a very strong backdrop,’ he says.
Academic and vocational institutions that offer courses simply to ‘put bums on seats’ will become answerable to employers, adds Bewick. ‘We have looked at the possibility of Kitemarking design courses, but Leitch is more hard-edged. He says that post-2020, there shouldn’t be a single vocational course not endorsed by businesses in that sector.’
Out of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s 30 member countries, the UK is ranked 17th in terms of low skills, 20th in intermediate skills and 11th in high skills. By 2020, Leitch says that the UK should be in the upper quartile of these nations in any assessment of educational achievement.
He also says that Sector Skills Councils should be reformed and relicensed, particularly those that are failing. However, Bewick denies that there is any intention to merge CCS with Skillset, the council for the audio and visual industries.
Separately, N1 Creative has been appointed by the Sector Skills Development Agency for a six-figure design project to create summaries of the Leitch Review in print, audio and electronically.
Between now and March 2007, the group will also consult with industry figures to raise awareness of the various skills councils, says N1 Creative account director Katharine Rowe.
Bewick says that the design industry is currently ahead of the other CCS sectors in terms of consultation and recommendations. Its Design Skills Advisory Panel is now chaired by Elmwood chairman Jonathan Sands, who replaced Priestman Goode director Paul Priestman in November last year.