IOP chief executive officer Lynda Purser highlights key work the Institute is undertaking to foster training and standards

The Institute of Packaging has just launched two new initiatives aimed at improving the way we meet your development needs.

We are working with the Sector Skills Council for the packaging sector [SEMTA] to ensure we have sound, up-to-date knowledge about skill needs and the best way to meet them.

The first initiative is the establishment of a steering group to drive production of the National Occupational Standards for packaging – the standards we will work to when writing qualifications. I am chairing a group that will help establish those standards, helped by SEMTA’s standard setting team.

The first meeting was in London on 24 May and we shall then meet in September and finally in early 2005.If you are interested in joining us, please contact me. My details are below. This is an opportunity to work with the Institute in its quest to improve the opportunities available for developing people in the industry.

The Standards will be written by March 2005, ready for qualifications to be developed that meet the sector’s specific requirements.

The second initiative is establishing the strategy group which will guide SEMTA in its development of a workforce development strategy for packaging. The group met for the first time on 14 May, chaired by GSK’s Sarah Divanbeigi. There is still room to join so please contact me if you are interested. The sector strategy is crucially important since it will be the key driver in securing further funding for sector-specific initiatives.

The group will monitor and review delivery of SEMTA’s workforce development plan for the sector, raise critical issues which impact on the sector’s competitiveness and seek ways forward. Its members will act as champions in engaging other employers in learning activity.

The strategy’s key aims will include reducing skills gaps and shortages; helping employers and individuals make informed career choices; analysing sectoral priorities and taking strategic action to improve productivity and performance; and improving learning supply.

The influential group will represent the industry’s views to SEMTA so it is important you have the opportunity to join if you wish to. SEMTA has an appointing procedure to ensure the group’s composition reflects the scope of the sector.

Equally, we shall need a mechanism for seeking a wide range of views and keeping you informed. We shall discuss these points at the next meeting and I shall let you know how we propose going about it.