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Factsheet for measure GB-2002-36/2512 – measures in United Kingdom

Sector Skills Councils

Sector Skills Councils

Country United Kingdom , applies nationwide
Time period Open ended, started on 01 September 2002
Context COVID-19, Restructuring Support Instruments
Type Legislations or other statutory regulations
Category Ensuring business continuity and support for essential services
– Smoothing frictions or reallocation of workers
Author Claire Evans (Warwick University) and Eurofound
Measure added 23 June 2022 (updated 03 January 2023)

Background information

Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) are independent, employer-led organisations which seek to build a skills system that is driven by employer demand. SSCs apply to specific economic sectors. There are 13 Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) with the following industry coverage:

In addition, there are five Sector Skills Bodies (SSBs) with the following coverage:

  • ECITB : Engineering Construction Industry Training Board
  • Enginuity : Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies
  • Instructus : Business and Administration, customer service, enterprise and business support, human resources and recruitment, industrial relations, leadership and management, marketing and sales
  • Skills for Security : Security
  • UKft : Fashion and Textiles.

The Sector Skills Councils and Bodies are supported by the  Federation for Industry Sector Skills & Standards  (FISSS) and funded through various means, including competitive government funding, contributions from member organisations and income from the services they provide, for example, consultancy services.

Content of measure

Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) have four key goals:

  • to reduce skills gaps and shortages
  • to improve productivity, business and public service performance
  • to increase opportunities to boost the skills and productivity of everyone in the sector's workforce
  • to improve learning supply through National Occupational Standards, apprenticeships, and further and higher education.

Each SSC agrees sector priorities and targets with its employers and partners to address five key goals:

  • identify and articular the sector's skills needs
  • help develop more responsive provision to meet business needs
  • provide the business case for skills
  • engage employers in skill development
  • influence skill policy.

Activities involve:

  • analysing the skills and qualifications that both employers and employees want
  • establishing the content of qualifications
  • forecasting future skills required within the sector
  • contributing to the development of National Occupational Standards
  • design and approval of apprenticeship frameworks
  • brokering sector skills agreements and creating sector qualification strategies.

Due to major funding changes introduced in 2012, there is no longer a comprehensive system of grant funding from government for SSCs and Sector Skills Bodies - their funding now largely depends on how successful they are in bidding applications to various government funds and contributions from member organisations.

The national government has provided legal framework and licensing of councils, as well as funding. Funding is provided from a variety of sources, including the UK government and member organisations. SSCs are dynamic organisations, with new SSCs being established and existing ones being closed.

Use of measure

There are 13 Sector Skills Councils and five Sector Skills Bodies based across all sectors of the UK economy. The SSCs and Sector Skills Bodies come under the umbrella of the Federation for Industry Sector Skills & Standards (FISSS). SSCs collaborate with one another, for example, ScreenSkills and Skills for Health worked together to develop training to help film and television production return safely to production after the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Skills for Care and Development (SfCD) is the SCC for adult social care and children and young people’s services in UK. It is an employer-led umbrella organisation for employers which have responsibility for skills and workforce development in the sector. The SCC has developed National Occupational Standards (NOS) - these are standards of practice that people must achieve when working in certain social service roles and include knowledge and understanding linked to that role. SfCD partner organisations adhere to shared principles for learning and qualifications in the care sector across the UK.

There is no legal requirement for employers to train and there is a lack of awareness among employers about SSCs. Furthermore, not all industry sectors are covered by SSCs. In addition, accessibility to SSCs tends to be lower amongst SMEs than among larger firms. The results of the latest survey by the Federation of Small Businesses (2009), mainly involving micro enterprises, revealed that: 71% of the respondents had never heard of SSCs; 90% did not know which SSC was related to their business; among those who knew about SSC, only 10% felt that the Councils' programmes were responsive to the needs of micro and small businesses.

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Employees in standard employment
Applies to all businesses Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
National government
Trade unions
National funds

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role Agreed (outcome) incl. social partner initiative Agreed (outcome) incl. social partner initiative
Form Unknown Unknown

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • Social partners jointly
  • Main level of involvement: Sectoral or branch level


Sector Skills Agreement must be signed by social partners; trade unions are legally entitled to a seat on the board of all SSCs. SSCs work with a range of stakeholders; these include employers, trade unions and training providers.

Views and reactions



  • 01 May 2002: Sector Skills Councils - Official Report of debates in UK Parliament (
  • 01 September 2002: FISS - Employer Led Partnerships (
  • 01 September 2002: About the Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) (
  • 01 June 2020: ScreenSkills & Skills for Health, join forces to tackle COVID-19 with cross-sector partnership (


Eurofound (2022), Sector Skills Councils, measure GB-2002-36/2512 (measures in United Kingdom), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin,


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Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process.