Most of the people I know who are engaged in real delivery of learning have little or no knowledge of the Sector Skills Councils. They can’t name them and often don’t know which one represents them. What Sector Skills Council do you e-learning people belong to? What do you mean you don’t know? Let me put forward a few candidates.
Skillset – learning for luvvies
Skillset, like the media supplement of the Guardian on a Thursday, still lives under the illusion that the internet is a passing fad, and that film and TV are the ‘real’ media. Its own website always puts Film, TV, radio and animation (in that order) above that nasty upstart – web, games, etc. Its board is so dominated by TV and film types that it can’t possibly cover web-based industries.
Clive Jones GMTV, Stewart Till UK Film Council, David Blaikley Warner Bros. Distributors, Paul Brown The Radio Centre, Andrew Chitty Illumina Digital (TV), Gaynor Davenport UK Screen Association, Jeremy Dear,NUJ, Julia Dell five, Marion Edwards Red and Blue Productions (TV), Donald Emslie Scottish Media Group plc, Michael Fegan ITV News Group, Diane Herbert Channel 4, Iona Jones S4C, Ian Livingstone Eidos, Nigel McNaught Photo Marketing Association International, John McVay Producers' Alliance for Cinema and Television (PACT), Ian Morrison Carlyle Media, Christine Payne Equity - The British Actors Union, Dot Prior BBC, Mairead Regan UTV plc, Martin Spence BECTU, John Woodward UK Film Council
Is it any wonder that all of us working in what these old broadcasters call ‘new media’ are blissfully unaware of Skillset. What these people know about the web could be written on a pixel. Perhaps it should be renamed as ‘Skilluv’ with the strapline - ‘Skills for Luvvies’.
Lifelong Learning UK Council - stops dead at 22
Licensed over four years ago, this organisation is almost invisible. Learning for these people is the antithesis of ‘lifelong’, for them it’s formal Tertiary Education. Astoundingly, it has ‘workplace learning’ in its remit, a difficult ball to juggle as there’s no serious input from employers on their board. It’s basically a bunch of University and College administrators with a couple of librarians thrown in for good measure.
As it says on its website, ‘The strategic significance of Lifelong Learning UK cannot be underestimated.’ True, it’s not underestimated: it’s completely ignored. I haven’t come across a soul in the learning industry who knows that it even exists. Apparently, ‘employers ...will look to this SSC for the standards and qualifications of the people who deliver learning in their own workforce.’ That would be good if employers knew it existed. It will also be taking, ‘strategic actions that will impact as much on the supply side as on the demand side.’ Lovely, but neither side know that it exists. So who are these people and what have they being doing for the last four years?
Lifelong learning? It’s actually about lifelong teaching, not lifelong learning, as no private sector supplier gets a look in. The board has not one person from the private sector or representing the private sector training industry. LLUK has a policy of maintaining reserves at a level which would meet the costs of maintaining and closing down the offices over a 3 - 6 month period. Now there’s an idea!
E-skills - well maybe BT skills
I had some dealings with e-skills, an outfit ridden with dissent and organisationally dysfunctional. It had the ‘Towards maturity’ campaign foisted upon it and Laura Overton is doing a grand job here, but they’re sleepwalking when it comes to e-learning and technology in learning. Its strategic plan is full of that general rhetoric one finds in all quangos – ‘emerging new world order...global economy...’ Its National Skills Academy will cost £60 million – what a waste of time and money. The National Skills Academy is fronted by Dragons' Den millionaire Peter Jones, who made loads of money for appearing in BT ads that encourage small businesses to outsource IT (the academy was launched by BT’s CEO Butler). Rather than improve the existing system, or invest in workplace learning, we invent another institution. These agencies simply spawn other entities.
Any the wiser?
The sad truth is that these organisations are not representative of employers or the supply side of the learning industry. If they disappeared tomorrow nothing would change. The solution is to simply stop all of this now. They are a million miles away from the real world of training, which is not obsessed with qualifications and largely ignores educational institutions.
These organisations are already widely believed to be ineffective and way behind the learning curve. You’d imagine that organisations specifically set up to advance the skills agenda would understand something about, well ‘skills’. Don’t believe a word of it. Their skills in terms of their core function are largely non-existent. They know little about learning and are largely ignorant of the role which technology does and can play in learning, the ‘close to retirement’ brigade who lack the agility to really innovate. They have to be relicensed by the National Audit Office, so let’s hope they have the balls to shut down the ones that aren’t working.