EEF reveals proposals to close skills gap

Workers
aged over 25 should be offered modern apprenticeships to help close the
manufacturing skills gap,
according to the Engineering Employers’ Federation.

This
is one of the key recommendations of the EEF’s report Unlocking Our Potential – the case for
supporting skills development.

It
also calls on the Government to align the funding rate for modern
apprenticeships for 19
to 24-year-olds with that for 16
to 18-year-olds to encourage employers to develop employees who might
have slipped through the training net.

The
report advocates replacing the Individual Learning Accounts programme, which
was suspended earlier this month after it was revealed some training providers
had abused it.

The
report highlights the fact that ILAs surpassed the Government’s original target
of one million accounts into which it deposited £150 if the individual
contributed £25.

Stephen
Radley, the EEF’s chief economist, said, "I think something similar to the
ILAs, giving people an incentive to take up training when they might not have
done so, does have merit."

Radley
believes the Government must encourage manufacturers to increase investment in
staff development if productivity in the UK is to be improved.

He
said, "Companies are investing more in training and development than they
did a decade ago but,
at the same time, the
competition is more intense and so employers need to accentuate their emphasis
on this."

The
EEF concludes there is a proven link between lower levels of spending on skills
and training and UK productivity performance.

Radley
stressed that the problem is particularly acute at craft and technician level,
with the proportion of employees in the UK with intermediate skills currently
half the level in Germany.

The
EEF study follows a joint CBI and TUC report which revealed the UK is falling
further behind its major European competitors in terms of productivity.

www.eef.org.uk

By Ben Willmott

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