Dismay over scrapping of NTO for publishing

Satchwell: has written to Kaufman

The Government’s decision to scrap the National Training Organisation for publishing is being taken up with Gerald Kaufman, chairman of the select committee looking at privacy and intrusion by the media.

Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors, has written to Kaufman noting his comments about the importance of journalism training.

Satchwell wrote: “The Publishing NTO was a first step towards improving training. For the first time, newspaper and magazine publishers joined together to form an organisation that was just beginning to develop a new vision for training in the industry.

“As a result of the Government’s view that the network of 70 NTOs should be replaced with a smaller number of Sector Skills Councils (SSC) our industry’s NTO is to close when its work had hardly begun.

“We are dismayed by this because it seems that a powerful initiative has been put at risk by the demands of bureaucracy.”

He has urged Kaufman to take up the matter with his colleagues in the Government and has also sent letters to Education Secretary Charles Clarke and Media Secretary Tessa Jowell.

Satchwell said: “These issues have huge implications for the future of the industry. We hope that renewed commitments to investment in training will not be wasted as result of the decision and that you might be able to help find a more sensible way forward.”

Launched in March 2001, the Publishing NTO is a casualty of a change in government policy to replace the 70 national training organisations with a smaller number of SSCs.

The Department for Education and Skills has said the publishing industry, which employs more than 280,000 people, was “not of sufficient economic or strategic significance” to warrant its own SSC and should join a broader group of sectors.

The Society of Editors and other trade organisations in the publishing sector reject this view.

lIn a new submission to Kaufman’s committee, the SoE comes out strongly against the idea of a government-appointed press ombudsman. It claims: “The danger is one of creating a state-appointed policeman of the press, able to institute investigations arbitrarily, bringing the risk of political or establishment pressure and the perils of prior restraint and censorship. We doubt that is what the committee would intend.

“An ombudsman, appointed and paid for by the Government, either directly or indirectly, would be the first step towards licensing of journalism.”

By Jon Slattery

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