Published: 02/06/2005, Volume II5, No. 5958 Page

Skills for Health is just completing its first full year as the licensed sector skills council for health.

Much has changed for us within this first year. In particular, Skills for Health is now fully established as a substantive organisation and has started to make a significant impact on the workforce agenda. This supplement provides a taster from some areas of work where our contribution is making a real difference.

Although many things have changed within the first year, our core purpose remains. Our aim is to train the workforce in such a way that patients can gain quick access to people who have the right mix of skills to suit their needs; staff have the opportunity to fulfil their potential; and skills and competences developed in one setting are recognised and transferable right across the UK.

We all recognise that workforce development across the whole health sector (NHS, independent and voluntary) is a mammoth task. Skills for Health has a key role to play, but we can only achieve our aims through other partner organisations. Again, much progress has been made in building these relationships in the first year and we have appreciated the support of all our partner organisations across the UK.

Our main focus for the next 12 months is on the new sector skills agreement (see page 9). The crux of the agreement is to enable all employers in the sector to influence and shape the 'supply side' of education and training. The agreement will effectively form a compact between employers and the funders/providers of education training. Work is already under way with a range of strategic visioning workshops running across the country in June.

At the same time, current education/ training provision is being mapped. A gap analysis will be produced in the autumn, with the final sector skills agreement produced in the New Year.

The agreement will include a 10-year vision, five-year strategy and 18-month action plan. The development of the agreement gives health sector employers an unprecedented opportunity to influence training and education provision from a strategic perspective. .

John Rogers is chief executive of Skills for Health.