Low skills workers high on list for development

Employers will come under increasing pressure to change their approach to
staff development, which at present favours high-fliers at the expense of
unqualified employees.

This is the conclusion of an Industrial Society report, which predicts the
Government’s forthcoming review of workforce development will lead to greater
intervention to encourage UK businesses to broaden workplace training.

The report emphasises that managers and graduates are up to five times more
likely to receive work-based training than employees in unskilled jobs or
without qualifications.

It also reveals that the UK average for training hours per year is 99.5 per
participating person, which is 35 hours below the Organisation for Economic
Co-operation and Development average and well behind all other European

"This Government is determined to snap firms out of their persistent
low skills mindset. Under-investment and under participation in workforce
development is the primary cause of our low productivity. With the productivity
gap high on the political agenda, employers can expect significant intervention
in workforce training in the near future," said Andy Westwood, deputy
director of policy at the Industrial Society.

The report Not very qualified – Raising Skill Levels in the UK Workforce,
dismisses claims by employers’ bodies that a large proportion of workplace
training is not counted because it is informal and does not lead to a recognised

It stresses that the Government review will have to consider the economic
importance of many low skill, high productivity jobs and accept upskilling may
not be the cure-all for every business.

The report states that action by the UK’s network of business support
organisations such as National Training Organisations, Regional Development
Agencies and Business Links is as important as new polices attempting to
deliver higher skill levels.


By Ben Willmott

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