Employers have heaped further criticism on the flagship skills pledge recommended by the Leitch Review as the government finally announced when it would unveil the document.
Senior HR figures at Honda and Cable & Wireless branded the pledge to train all employees to Level 2 – the equivalent of five GCSEs at grades A-C – impractical and a waste of money.
Lord Sandy Leitch told the government on 5 December 2006 that all employers should sign the pledge by 2010 if the UK was to avoid a bleak future competing in the global market.
Almost six months on, with not a single private sector signature on the pledge and increasing pressure from business groups to clarify exactly what it is, the government has at last announced that an official launch will take place in June.
Geoff Matthews, head of the Honda Institute, which is responsible for training and people development within the Honda dealer networks across the UK, told Personnel Today that despite being committed to improving his workers’ skills, “if I was asked to sign the pledge, I could not do it”.
He said: “I suspect most, if not all, of our programmes are actually at Level 3 or higher. But I could not claim officially that they match Level 2, and to map against it would require additional investment that we do not see the need to use.”
Bernard Buckley, HR director for Europe, Asia and the US at communications giant Cable & Wireless, said that the Leitch Review pledge was just an “aspirational document” that would not have a huge amount of practical impact.
“It does not have a sensible business rationale,” he said. “The government will struggle to get people to sign it.”
However, skills minister Phil Hope told Personnel Today: “We will be keen to work with Honda and others on how the government can support them to realise their skills investment strategy.”
Hope said the pledge would be “flexible to enable employers to make it most relevant to them”.
by Greg Pitcher and Gareth Vorster