A government minister has rejected business opinion by insisting that employers should build on the current UK skills system rather than try to revamp it.
“We have a fetish for reorganisation in this country,” said Bill Rammell, minister for higher education and lifelong learning.
“But we have got to build on existing structures and continue the shift towards work-based skills. We need much more of a demand-led system,” he added.
Rammell supported the Leitch Review recommendation of an employer pledge to train all employees to Level 2 (a minimum of five GCSEs or vocational equivalent).
“We have to get all employers to sign up, and get real commitment from them,” he told delegates at a seminar on skills last week.
But Rammell’s views on the training system massively conflicted with those of employers.
Martin Temple, director-general of the EEF manufacturer’s organisation, said employers should not be responsible for training staff to Level 2 until the skills system is sorted out.
“At the moment, we would make things worse by paying in money to a congested system,” he told Personnel Today.
Director-general of the CBI Richard Lambert has also voiced major criticism of the current UK skills programme.
“We don’t want another shuffling of the deckchairs within a dysfunctional system,” he said.
“The careers system is going backwards, there are too many agencies trying but often failing to support firms, and the government’s £3bn funding is too often spent on courses that are irrelevant to the workplace.”
Government skills envoy Sir Digby Jones, who chaired the seminar, said employers had a crucial role to play.
“I call on every employer in the country to put training at the top of their agenda,” he said.
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