DIUS and BERR merger slammed by employers

Employers have hit out at the government’s sudden merger of DIUS and BERR, claiming the skills agenda will suffer as a result.

The new Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) was created less than two weeks ago after prime minister Gordon Brown pushed through his Cabinet reshuffle, merging the former Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR), with the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS).

Business groups including the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and manufacturers’ body the EEF warned that ‘rearranging the deckchairs’ would do little to simplify an already complex skills system, although they welcomed the news that government heavyweight and first secretary of state Peter Mandelson would be in charge of promoting skills across the adult workforce.

HR professionals were less convinced, however. Julia Brewster, senior HR adviser at a leading engineering firm, told Personnel Today: “At the very time we need focus on skills, I can’t see how its going to be top of the agenda in such a large department. BIS is trying to cover everything from further and higher education to regional and economic development, to skills – it is too much.”

Clare Norris, HR officer at Newport University, warned: “A rapid succession of re-branding exercises is confusing and undermines what any organisation is trying to achieve. The danger is that skills will be sidelined.”

She added the new department could end up being little more than a name change.

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