An important parliamentary committee report on the state of the government's skills plans calls for radical reform. The committee recommends that the government's focus should shift to re-skilling to meet the needs of businesses during a recession, rather than up-skilling. Meanwhile the Chartered Management Institute has it's own radical plan for skills – tax rebates on training.
After Leitch: Call for radical reform
A parliamentary committee has called for radical reform of the government's Train to Gain programme. In its report examining the impact of Lord Leitch’s 2006 review of skills, the Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee called on the government to simplify training and skills provision.
It said it was essential that Train to Gain programme was made flexible enough to deal with rapid adjustments for unemployed people who need quick re-training. It also called for Train to Gain to be simplified and for clarity on the roles of the government's different skills organisations to ensure the system can be understood by its users, not only by ‘a few civil servants and a handful of academics’.
Chairman of the Committee, Phil Willis MP, said: “We support the skills review and want to see it succeed, but urgent changes are needed if employers and individuals are to get the best out of the system. The focus must move away from a mechanistic approach to supplying skills and expecting businesses to respond; the UK workforce’s ability to be flexible and have the necessary support in order to adapt to unpredictable economic circumstances is crucial if the economy is to recover and grow.”
A full analysis of Re-skilling for recovery: After Leitch, implementing skills and training policies is available here.
TUC report on skills
The TUC is calling for state-funded training to be made available to all those facing redundancy. The TUC is suggesting the Train to Gain funding rules are relaxed, "so that all workplaces threatened with job losses can access funding".
The report Skills in the Recession also calls for the government to revise the '16 hour rule' that prevents people studying for more than 16 hours a week from claiming unemployment and housing benefit. The TUC claim this discourages benefit claimants from taking further education courses, even though the evidence suggests that it can help people back into work. As well as short-term measures to help dampen the impact of the recession, the report calls on the government to link its skills strategy with a more active industrial strategy.
Managers call for tax breaks for training
The Chartered Management Institute is calling on Government to tackle the recession by offering tax relief to businesses who provide training opportunities for staff.
The CMI’s call is based on its own data showing employers want greater support from government, with many looking for opportunities to develop skills amongst their existing employees.
Key findings suggest that employers are heavily reliant on Government to make bold decisions:
74% want even more financial support from government to help develop employee skills
57% say flexible working regulations must be applied across the whole workforce
51% have called for a reduction in business taxes
The Institute's chief executive Ruth Spellman said: “Government and employers need to think about how they will manage immediately and when we eventually turn a corner, meaning there is a case for guidance through better regulation. After all, if they think the cost of competence is expensive, they should consider the cost of incompetence.”
The Chartered Management Institute has launched a micro-site with free-to-download resources designed to tackle the issues created by the recession at www.managers.org.uk/however.
Charity urges workplaces to commit to skills this year
National charity, the Campaign for Learning is encouraging workplaces to make a public commitment to learning and skills through holding events and promotions on National Learning at Work Day on 14 May, 2009.
New research by the Campaign for Learning shows that only 57% of people in the workplace think they are likely to take part in taught learning in the near future.
Tricia Hartley, chief executive of the Campaign for Learning said: “During this unsettling time for workplaces, maintaining the ability and motivation to learn and adapt quickly to change will be essential – we should all be reflecting on our skills needs both at an individual and a business level, and taking action where needed.”
The Learning at Work Day website www.learningatworkday has planning guides, activity ideas and information, as well as examples of how workplaces of all sizes and from different sectors have used the day to promote a culture of learning.
£30m boost for Train to Gain providers
The government has set up a £30m capacity building fund to help Train to Gain providers increase the number of employers they offer funded training. However training providers will only get the money if they can achieve growth of 50%. Advice and guidance on how to take advantage of the £30m funding and find out crucial information is available from www.fundedtrainingmadeeasy.co.uk
Award winning apprenticeship
The search is on to find the nation's top Apprenticeship employers and top individual apprentices as the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) launches its annual National Apprenticeship Awards.
There are five categories for employers depending on company size: micro (1-9 employees), small (10-49 employees), medium (50-249 employees), large (250-4,999 employees) and macro (5,000-plus employees). Apprentices can enter one of the three categories open to them too: Apprentice of the Year, Advanced Apprentice of the Year and Young Apprentice of the Year.
For more information, visit www.apprenticeships.org.uk or call 0800 954 8896 . The deadline for entries is 27 February.