The threat of mandatory skills training for employers has receded just a year after it was a key recommendation of the Leitch Review.
Chris Humphries, chief executive of the Commission for Employment and Skills (CES), told Personnel Today that he thought compelling employers to give all staff basic skills training was off the agenda.
“I really do believe, on the basis of all discussions I’ve had with the government and industry, that they don’t presume regulation is either necessary or the best way forward,” he said.
“What the government is looking for, from commissioners working with employers, is to improve the skills system so the necessity for that form of activity [regulation] will be reduced.”
The commission will spend the first part of 2008 setting up a review into whether mandatory training is needed – the results of which will emerge in 2010, Humphries said.
Skills minister David Lammy confirmed the intention to achieve its skills aims through a “voluntary partnership” between government, employers and individuals.
But he warned: “Obviously, if we don’t make sufficient progress towards our worldclass skills ambition for 2020, we will consider creating an entitlement for workplace training for employers.”
Leitch said the proportion of adults with Level 2 qualifications needed to reach 90% by 2020, and that training should be made compulsory if insufficient progress was made by 2010.
To date, about 100,000 people have completed a full Level 2 qualification through Train to Gain, while 240,000 employees have used the service, which aims to achieve 1.25 million Level 2 qualifications by 2011.
Lammy said: “This is a long-term strategy that leads up to 2020 and meets the ambitions that Leitch set out, which as of now is a 12-year trajectory.”
Feedback on mandatory training
Charlotte Moore-Bick, policy adviser, British Chambers of Commerce: “I think the government is less likely to force mandatory training on employers. The government seems to be more relaxed Ð it is not focusing on a ‘paper chase’ exercise to get employers to sign the pledge and appreciate that more legislation will be more burdensome for employers.”
Stephen Moir, vice-president, Public Sector People Managers Association: “It’s taken almost 12 months since Leitch was originally published to where we are now, which doesn’t feel like a great deal of difference from last year. In the public sector we don’t really want to call for more legislation, but perhaps mandatory training from 2010 is the way forward.”
Geoff Matthews, head of the Honda Institute: “Where companies are not engaged with skills improvement then mandatory training may, regrettably, be the way to go.”
Brendan Barber, general secretary, TUC: “While the TUC supports efforts to get more employers to sign up to the skills pledge, the government must remain committed to implementing a statutory right to workplace training if it fails to galvanise employers to train their workforce.”