A week in training: Business reacts to time to train proposals

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newsHas there ever been a time when skills seemed higher on the political agenda? This week the government put flesh on the bones of its proposals to give 25 million employees the right to request time to train, while a new apprenticeships trial aims to expand the places available to meet skills gaps. Elsewhere, the CIPD revealed its plans to step-up its public policy work and a survey of under-35s finds that many organisations are failing to embrace the business potential of new technology.

Broad welcome to right to train proposals
Business leaders have given a cautious welcome to plans to give employees the right to seek time off for training, as outlined in the Queen's Speech. The CBI's deputy director general, John Cridland, said: "Employers invest £39bn every year in staff training and regularly discuss skills and training needs with their employees. The right to request training will build on this existing good practice, but the proposals must ensure employers only accept requests for business-relevant training, to help build a stronger skills base and a more competitive economy." Chartered Management Institute policy and research director Petra Wilton said: "We are delighted that the government has responded to the need to encourage investment in skills. Clearly there is an urgent need to increase levels of skills training, particularly those associated with leadership and management, and we believe the Bill will have a positive effect.” CIPD, chief executive Jackie Orme, also welcomed the proposal, but added: "It is important that we do not lose sight of the fact that training is a two-way street. It is of benefit to the learner, but must also contribute to meeting the business needs of the employer. If this test is not met, the employer must be able to decline requests for training.” Meanwhile, The Federation of Small Businesses was more cautious. It warned that: "Enshrining the right for employees to request time to undertake training... could cause administrative problems for small employers." For more details on the proposals click here.

Businesses needed for £10m apprenticeships trial
A £10m shot-in-the arm for apprenticeships will aim to meet skills gaps, the government announced this week. The new funding – through the Apprenticeship Expansion Programme - is available as a three-year trial to large businesses and groups of small and medium sized businesses who have a track record of delivering high quality apprenticeship programmes. Businesses wanting to take part in the trial should express their interest and contact the Learning and Skills Council on 024 7682 3668 or visiting www.lsc.gov.uk The deadline for expressions of interest is 16 January 2009.

CIPD steps up public policy drive
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has appointed its chief economist, Dr John Philpott, to director of a newly-created Public Policy Department. CIPD chief executive Jackie Orme said the appointment aimed to step up its public policy drive. “John Philpott is ideally placed to lead the team I've asked to focus on raising the profile and impact of workplace issues,” she said. Philpott has been at the CIPD for eight years.

Are you working for a cyber cynic?
Cyber cynicism’ is taking hold across UK organisations, as employers fail to capitalise on the business benefits offered by technology, a new report from the Chartered Management Institute and Ordinance Survey claims. The research, among 1,000 managers under the age of 35, found that employers view Internet activity as a ‘massive timewaster’. Nearly two-thirds (65%) monitor employee internet access and the same proportion (65%) block ‘inappropriate’ websites. This high level of policing comes against a backdrop of enthusiasm for Internet-based applications amongst employees. Asked to highlight why they want to use the Internet, the majority focused on its use ‘for professional development’ (72%). Over half (59%) claimed freedom to use the Internet is ‘useful for research’ and 43% argued it helps ‘for doing work’. Jan Hutchinson, director of HR & corporate services at Ordnance Survey, said: “The low level adoption of new technology is in tandem with employers’ belief that Internet usage is a ‘time waster’. It’s something that must be looked at because the longer this situation is allowed to remain unchallenged, the greater the likelihood UK employers will fall behind their international competitors.”

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