How Improve got a lot better

I am writing in response to the comments of Matilda Gosling, senior research and policy manager at the City amp;amp; Guilds' centre for skills development, with regard to the freedom of FE colleges to assess local skills needs (FE Focus, July 4). I was puzzled by Ms Gosling's criticism of sector skills councils as having a "pointless" national focus in their assessment of skills needs in different industrial sectors.

Speaking from Improve's perspective, and that of the food and drink sector, neither criticism offers a fair insight into the work we do.

Since its creation four years ago, Improve has worked successfully on behalf of the food and drink manufacturing industry in response to very clear, well-established skills needs.

We have drawn up an employer-backed sector skills agreement, introduced revised NVQs, SVQs, apprenticeships and foundation degrees, led the development of the diploma in manufacturing and product design for 14- to 19-year-olds, and launched a National Skills Academy for food and drink manufacturing.

All of this has been achieved through close consultation with employers and with the training provider community, including widespread representation and involvement from FE colleges, on a local, regional and national level.

Jack Matthews, chief executive, Improve, the food and drink sector skills council.

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