Why HR needs to be in on skills strategy

For anyone who missed it, the consultation period on the future of National
Training Organisations ended last month. If you are trying to bring to mind
exactly who and what the NTOs are then you are not alone. Research last year
found one in four employers had never heard of them. This is a pity, as the
NTOs could not possibly have a more important objective. Their remit is to
develop skills strategies for all UK industries.

The Government’s consultation document made a number of proposals about how
the NTOs could overcome the problems of patchy cover and poor employer
awareness and investment. Most important was the plan to cut radically the
number of organisations, merging them so that what remained were big, sectoral
bodies which were well resourced and able to drive change.

On the whole this seems to make sense. One problem employers have is that it
requires an encyclopaedic brain to keep track of the plethora of training bodies
and initiatives which are up and running. And some of the existing NTOs do seem
to be addressing a rather narrow audience. Take, for example, the Animal Care
NTO or the NTOs for Bakers, Ceramics, Coatings, Cultural Heritage, Dairy,
Footwear and Photography. Surely such organisations could be gathered under the
umbrella of broader, and more strategic, bodies.

This week NTO National Council chief executive Andy Powell told Personnel
Today that he wants HR directors to sit on the boards of the next generation of
NTOs alongside chief executives. Let us hope this is more than an attempt to
use the pages of Personnel Today to win over HR professionals to the NTO cause.
HR chiefs must be involved with training strategy at the highest level – nobody
knows more about present and future skills shortages.

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