Employers aim too low with training ambitions, says CIPD

The
CIPD has urged employers to aim higher in terms of workforce development if
they want to increase the UK’s business productivity.

The
call is in response to a report by the Government’s Performance and Innovation
Unit, which proposes a radically different strategy to improve the skills of UK
employees.

Currently
a fifth of UK adults have poor basic skills and over a third do not have the
equivalent of five good GCSEs.

UK
employers spent an estimated £23bn on training in 2000, a similar amount to
other European countries, but concentrated on younger staff who already have
qualifications.

In
Demand: Adult Skills in the 21st Century proposes a demand-led training system
with a coherent approach to help UK firms compete and employees update and
learn new skills.

The
report recommends maintaining a clear focus on reducing the estimated 20 per
cent of the UK workforce who lack basic literacy and numeracy skills as the top
priority to help them escape insecure low-paid jobs.

It
also calls for a drive to ensure all adults have the opportunity to achieve a
level 2 qualification and are given the opportunity to build on these
foundations to develop intermediate skills.

John
Stevens, director of public policy at the CIPD, said, "The proposal do not
appear to burden employers excessively.

"However,
the CIPD believes that the answer to the productivity conundrum has to do with
low aspirations among employers. It is all too easy for organisations to aim
low, when what they should be doing is formulating clear business objectives
and delighting customers, based on the contribution of their people." 

The
CIPD wants the skills focus to be strongly linked to bridging the UK
productivity gap.

"Raising
qualifications is not enough. Jobs need to be changed and organisations need a
different more customer-driven philosophy. The UK is too introspective, we need
to see performance benchmarks that relate to the best of the rest of the world
and better management interests in how we can beat them at it," said
Stevens.                                    

Next
summer the PIU, which includes CIPD director general Geoff Armstrong on its
steering group, will publish policies to help improve employee skills and
reduce the productivity gap.

www.cabinet-office.gov.uk/innovation

By Ben Willmott

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