What is the Sector Skills Agreement (SSA)?

Improve says the SSA is the means through which the sector can increase productivity, address skills gaps and provide more responsive training provision.

The SSA action plan has generated nine areas on which Improve is focusing employer efforts. Over 200 employers have already signed on to one or more of the following:

1. Careers development: projects include developing a conversion programme for food scientists, attracting more science graduates, and expanding media efforts to promote career opportunities.

2. Promoting productivity: a blended E-learning programme has been developed by the National Skills Academy and is available from the Academy Centres and the IT Hub.

3.Pick and mix: Improve has developed a new way of accessing N/SVQs; the employee can choose 10 specific modules from a basket of 500 to best serve a particular employee.

4.Training: 80% of all training happens on the job; the aim of this project is to enable 80% of in-house trainers to achieve their Assessor Awards.

5.Connecting the industry: the aim is to generate a database of all training provision across the UK.

6.Sweet success: a communications project, focused on CEOs and financial directors, to increase their understanding of the bottom-line benefits of investing in skills.

7.Future in food: this is another careers project, aimed at school and college students, to promote the sector as a career of choice.

8.Learning together: this solution focuses on bringing a network of SMEs together to deliver cost-effective economically valuable skills training.

9.The skills pledge: the emp- loyer commits to raising skills and, in return, Train to Gain expertise, courses and funding are available.