The British Retail Consortium's proposal for a Retail Sector Skills Council has been approved by the government. The body, incorporating a cross-section of industry representatives, will form one of five trailblazer groups replacing National Training Organisations. NTOs will cease to be recognised by the government in March. Minister for skills John Healey said: "NTOs did not have sufficient support from employers or sufficient influence in their sector. SSCs will have greater investment from government, and greater influence on government. They will be employer-led. We expect them to come up with their own targets." The government intends retailers to initially provide half the funding for SSCs, and has pledged to match the investment. It wants them set up within three months. If the retail SSC can convince government that it represents retailers' interests and has credible development plans, it will be granted a two- year operating licence. BRC director of employment Stephen Webster said: "We have been asked to come up with business plans and objectives very quickly." The aim of SSCs is to reduce skills gaps and shortages, develop productivity and performance, develop the workforce within their sectors and improve retail staff training schemes. {{NEWS }}