Government policy, skills and the context of training and development The fundamental problem with the approach of successive government to training policy in the UK is that they have berated employers for not doing enough to train their workforces but have done little to ensure that they have any incentive to do so’. INTRODUCTION: The Government aims to create a learning society. But many training and development experts complain of ‘‘initiativitis’’, and even a lack of joined-up government Source: Personnel today, April, 2000
In recent times, one of the most challenging public policy objectives in the UK has been to encourage employers to raise the skills levels of their work force. This is a complex issue involving many factors as well as future uncertainties. (Learning & development, June 2005. ) The learning and the skills council: The LSC identifies main skills challenges as follows: SKILLS MATTER: they are the key to addressing the twin challenges of intensifying international competition and social exclusion.
The pace of change in technology, globalization and changing pattern of demand for skills, is accelerating but many young people are opting out from education at age 16 and earlier and many adults still have basic literacy and numeracy problems. The overall demand for skill is projected to continue rising and the mix of skill requirement will also change rapidly. There is an urgent need to look at up skilling and retraining need of the current work force. The key drivers affecting skills are technology and demography.
The declining numbers of young people entering the workforce beyond 2010 will lead to a greater reliance on older workers. and will need to look beyond the current employed workforce- for example, attracting new migrants and moving people from benefits in to work. Ali B, Labour Research Guide, 2006. Skills gaps and skills shortages in the UK: As one LSC official put it: the real skill gap in this country is for 35 to 55- years olds in the work place who are fragile in their jobs because they have few skills, and as soon as there is a shake-up lose their job and can’t get another one. The state ends up paying for this through the benefits system. So the question is: can we invest a little bit more in order to save a lot? ’’ Source: People management, 12, June, 2003. Recent government reports provide evidence of skills gaps and skills shortages. Skill gaps are defined when employers believe that their employees are not fully proficient to carry out the requirements of the job roles. Skills shortages are defined as a lake of applicants for vacant posts with the right skills and qualifications. Marchington M. and Wilkinson A. 005. In retail, skill smart retail, the sector skill council carried out a survey of 14-19 year olds which showed that just 21% would consider a career in retailing. Its report said: ‘‘ unless retailers take action now to promote retail as a career of choice, difficulties with recruitment and retention will simply be compounded. ’’ And because more young people are remaining in full time education to do A levels or equivalent – 63% did this in 2005 – fewer 17 – year – olds are entering in to work based learning initiatives such as apprenticeships.
Just eight percent did this in 2005, according to statistics from the department for education and skills (DFES). The construction and motor industries suffering the similar difficulties. There is short fall of around 16,000 skilled motor technicians who are needed to handle the rapidly evolving technology in the new cars. Over 500,000 skilled construction workers have no formal qualifications, the sector skills council construction skills say,’’ We need to attract more graduates, more women, older people and ethnic minorities. ’ The equal opportunities commission says recruiting more women is a clear solution to severe shortages of skilled workers in some parts of the labour market, such as plumbing, construction and engineering. The CBI’s London business survey 2006 found that ‘‘skills shortages are now the biggest barrier to business in the capital, overtaking transport problem for the first time. 61% of the employers reported in the survey skills shortages, a rise from 49% in the previous year, with firms in the property, professional services and ransport sectors worst affected. (Ali B, Labour Research Guide, 2006. ) Why does learning at work matter? Successive governments, irrespective of political persuasion, have seen learning, development and training as drivers as business success and hence national prosperity. To quote from mid- 1990s government-sponsored publication: Training is seen as a key component in achieving of empowerment of the individual and in maintaining focus on the customer in order to remain competitive.
Not only is ‘training the epicenter of empowerment with as much as 10% of employees’ time spent on it, but ‘successful companies use education as a competitive weapon’. Source: The future of learning for work, 2001, CIPD. So better-trained workforce will allow the UK to compete more effectively and to operate in higher value markets. There is much to commend this sort of ‘let’s all be like Manchester united‘argument the most demanding thing that can be said about it is that it has not achieved its aim.
So far the new basis of competition has not led to across the board acceptance of workforce development and a greater commitment to training. An alternative to exhortative voluntarism is to build on the widespread goodwill that many of us feel towards learning. For those who hold this view, training and education are rather special goods and interventions. The acquisition of job related skills gives people pride in their work: They can acquire new assurance and self- respect. They can build on this assurance to seek and acquire new capabilities.
They can confront and overcome the challenge of economic change. We have all for example, experience the professionalism of the health service ward, or the pride taken in good personal service underpinned by training. It would be tragic if we lost sight of this personal and ethical dimension to learning at work in the wider economic debate. The future of learning for work, 2001, CIPD. Increased productivity Individuals Employers Increased skills Fees, wages, etc Employee’s in-house training
Training providers External Training income support Grants, subsidies and loans TECs Grants,subsidies and Regulatory framework Government Source: Layard R, et al. Britain’s training deficit, 1994 Fig: 1. The relation between employers,individuals,training providers,TECs and government. Government policies and initiatives: It is easy to get lost in a thicket of government learning schemes. But a little context sheds light on new labour’s habits of reinvention Source:Personnel today,3 April, 2001
THE WHITE PAPERS: skill strategy In March 2005 the government publishes its second skills white paper, skills: getting on in business, getting on at work. It built on a 2003 white paper and developed the strategy for tackling skills shortages and skills gaps. The 2005 white paper set out proposals and reforms designed to: * Put employer needs centre stage in the design and delivery of training – primarily through the new train to gain programme and employer –led sector based national skill academies, supported by sector skills agreements. Support individuals to gain the skills and qualifications they need to achieve the quality of life they want. In addition the new deals for skills aim to move people from welfare to work, focusing on those people whose lack of skill is a barrier to employment. * Reform the further education (FE) sector, allowing colleges to become ‘‘engine of social and economic growth ‘This role of the colleges and the FE sector is the key theme of the government’s white paper, Further education: raising skills, improving life chances, published in March 2006.
Aim to improve the quality of teaching, reward the colleges for success. * Develop an improved qualification structure to support adults and young people aged 14-19; * Work with partners to deliver a shared agenda the skills alliance, led by the department for education and skills (DFES) and department for trade and industry (DTI), including the employer’s organizations the CBI and the TUC and the small business council. Nine regional skills partnerships bring together regional development agencies (RDAs), the learning and skill councils (LSC), job centre plus with other partners.
They have been established to address skills, employment and business priorities. * Promote equal access for all ensuring that individuals-regardless of age, race, sex, disability and social background can receive training and benefits from support to overcome any disadvantages. * The TUC welcomed many aspects of the white paper, in particular its recognition of the union role in learning, and commitment to raising the number of trained union learning reps to 22,000 by 2010. * The government proposal of lifelong learning needs of individuals scheme in its response to the government’s proposal the TUC emphasized. ‘to truly address the country’s skills needs it is important to ensure the strategy is ‘employment led rather than employer led. ’’ Ali B,. Labour Research Guide, 2006. ) ‘‘Government should introduce mechanisms to ensure that employers do engage in training. ’’ This would include the introduction of statutory rights on collective bargaining, paid time off to train and statutory levies in sectors where they are failing to address skills problem. Source:Ali B, Labour Research Guide, 2006. ) There are so many tremendous initiatives, but little thought as to how to deliver them.
Trying to find your way through support services is an absolute nightmare. The money wasted on rebranding and starting again on all these different services is a scandal. Its permanent revolution, The Tec director says. The government’s white paper learning to succeed, which underpins many of the initiatives, complains of the tangle of bodies and institutional fiefdoms in post -16 learning and calls for a clarification of boundaries. Personnel today, 11, April, 2000. University for industry (UFI) (2000)
The university for industry launched formally in the autumn of 2000, goes under brand name learn direct UFL hopes that one million people a year will be taking its courses by 2003. there are to be 1,000 learn direct centres opened by spring 2001. there are key objectives of learn direct/UFL. * Flexible, cost-effective training, particularly for SMEs. * Marketing and promoting learning as a life style activity. * The construction of a network of different types of learning centers in work retail and leisure locations and in the community. Encouraging the use of new technologies for learning programmes for communication and maintaining learner record. The DFEE has pledged ? 84m to the end of 2001 to get learndirect up and running and LSC has set aside ? 135m, but at that point UFL is expected to become self self-financing. Personnel today,2001. ICT learning centres/UK Online (2000) * On September 11, 2000 government announced UK online, ? 252m is available to set up to tackle the information rich/information poor’’ divide. * The programme will target the 2000 most deprived wards according to the department of transport, environment and region’s eprivation index. * More confusingly still, learn direct centers can bid for the same funding, as these ICT learning centers. Personnel today, 11April, 2000. Learning and skill council:(2001) This national body will look after 47 locally based learning and skills councils from April 2001. The LSC will have a budget of ? 6bn, compared to the ? 1bn by Tecs, which the LSC will supersede. * The plan is for work-base learning for the un-employed to be transferred to the employment service- as in the new deal for under 25s. LSC aims at a tri-partite responsibility between learners, government and employers. Although Tony Blair’s learning policies sound impressive, the government doesn’t seem very interested in making its plans clear to the widest possible audience Source: Personnel Today, April, 2001. Individual learning Accounts:(2000) * ILAs went national in September 2000 and so far 683,016 people have opened accounts. * The policy intention is to encourage people to take more responsibility for their own learning and to invest more of their own money in it over time. ILAs operates by government giving ? 150 to the first one million people to open an account for each person to spend on an adult education or training course providing they provide ? 25 of their own money to contribute to the account. * Discounts of up to 80% are available for specific learning such as computer literacy; and 20% off other types of learning, The ILA card will entitle people to an annual statement or learning record which government hopes employers recognize as a type of qualification.
Personnel Today, April, 2001. Investors in people:(1990) * The government regards this scheme as one the main plank in its learning strategy, an excellent business tool for getting employers engaged in learning. started in 1990. * IIP, as virtually everybody in personnel will know, is the national standard for ‘‘effective investment in people to achieve business goals. ’’ In essence, it emphasizes the importance of having business goals and enables organizations to measure the contribution of people to getting there. It has been highly successful: 35 percent of the work force is engaged in the process of getting IIP. By the end of 1999, 16,454 have the standard and another 21,500 were working towards it. * They are assessed against specific criteria by the team of official assessors. LSCs are likely to take over recognition when Tecs disappear. Personnel today, 11April, 2000. National Vocational qualifications: * NVQs have been running for nine years now and are the basic standard of vocational qualification. * There are five levels which equate to levels of responsibility in the real world.
Level 1 relates to foundation skills in occupations; level 2 relates to operative or semi skilled occupations; level 3 is technician, craft, skilled and supervisory occupations; level 4 is about technical and junior management occupations and level 5 is about chartered, professional and senior management occupations. Personnel today, 11April, 2000. Lifelong learning development plans 🙁 2001) * It has only been running two years, but when the learning and skills councils come in to existence in April 2001, they will take over funding.
Thereafter, local authorities will submit applications known as Adult and community learning strategies. Personnel today, 11April, 2000. * All 150local authorities produce these setting out how to widen participation, drive up quality and work with providers. Personnel Today, 3, April, 2001. Train to gain: (2006) * Train to gain is the new national skill programme introduce in September, 2006 in the UK. * Train to gain offers opportunities to trade unions to get involved at work place level to promote and support a training initiative that offer paid time off for employees to achieve qualifications. The TUC is making is making this a priority during 2006-07 pointing out that often employees participating in the programme will have few, or no qualifications and this means that union learning reps can play a vital role in pursuing this training. Ali B, Labour research guide, 2006 The skill Alliance: 2003 The skill alliance was formed in 2003. It is intended to act as a high-profile champion for the skill strategy ensuring that the proposals to transform both the demand for, and supply of, skills are carried through and achieve their impacts.
The skill alliance group meets twice a year to review progress it has two sub groups these are: Social and Economic partnership: design to stimulate and encourage wider involvement, agree broad direction, and stock of progress from a strategic perspective. * Delivery Group: Led by the LSC and focusing on implementing the skill strategy. Ali B, Labour research guide, 2006 Skill for business: * The skill for business net work aims to boost UK productivity and profitability by identifying and tackling skill gaps and shortages on a sector by sector basis.
It is made up of 25 sector skills councils, each one an employer. . Ali B, Labour research guide, 2006 SOME RECENT LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT SCHEMES: Collective learning fund 🙁 2006) * The 2006 white paper further education raising skills, improving life chances contained a commitment that the DFES would work with TUC to help take forward a proposal to develop collective learning fund. * CLFs would be joint employer-union initiatives aimed at encouraging employer to increase the scope of training and development opportunities for their work force and commit new investment to this.
Ali B, Labour research guide, 2006 Specialised Diplomas: (2008) * The introduction of specialised diplomas is key to the government’s 14-19 reforms. Shaped by employers and universities this includes: * Open up choices for young people; * Offer different types of learning and a route in to HE or employment. * Provide credible, industry- verified applied learning, with real opportunities to practice skills Ali B, Labour research guide, 2006 CONCLUSION: Work force development is broadly, the training and development employees (and potential employees) receive that is relevant to the workplace.
This includes both on-the-job and off-the-job training, and can be recognized in formal qualifications (which may or may not be accredited to external standards). workforce development can include academic, subject-based training; but more typically covers more work related, vocational training- from general communication, people and management skills to sector, industry and firm-specific skills. The future of learning for work, CIPD 2001. The UK vocational education and training system remains in crisis and out of touch with the changes in the labour market.
There have been three important changes in the labour market in last 30 years, and the system has failed to adequately react to each. Firstly and most obvious there has been a major decline in the number of people in manual employment the share of skill manual workers has fallen from 18% to 12 percent . despite this shift our learning system is still too heavily influence by the ‘Psyche’ of manufacturing, apprenticeships, craft skills and ‘technical’ colleges. Second, there has been a rise in skilled employment of people performing managerial and technical jobs.
The share of workers in these occupations has risen from a quarter to a third. The education and training world has been quick to exploit this shift. It has reacted inappropriately. MBAs celebrity motivation seminars and leadership programmes compete successfully for training expenditure. Development has made the future for work place learning significantly worse. There is a very simple training divide in the U. K between those who can access those who cannot. winner –takes all economics has affected training budget as much as salary bills. The future of learning for work, CIPD,2001