HR chiefs offered key role in skills shake-up

HR directors are being asked to drive forward the shake-up of the UK’s
fragmented national training strategy.

Powell, chief executive of the National Training Organisation’s national
council, told Personnel Today that HR directors should join chief executives in
a revamped network of NTOs.

"If we involve HR people, we will be able hear the kind of skills
people need to work in their particular industries," he said.

His comments follow a government consultation on the future of NTOs, which
ended last month.

The Government has proposed that by 2003 NTOs would link up to form a small
network of larger and more powerful Sector Skills Organisations, resembling the
industry training boards of the 1960s.

Steve Pallas, training and development manager at Nissan in Sunderland, said
the existing NTO system, which includes 73 different organisations, confused

But he said, "You always get the committee you deserve – if employers
do not get involved with this sort of thing, they will never get the results
they want."

Powell said smaller NTOs, which can represent as few as 20,000 employees, do
not have the political or economic clout to make an impact. He added,
"There is a productivity gap between this country and its competitors and
we believe learning and training will help our companies find a competitive

Other developed nations such as the US, Canada and France, already have
Sector Skills Organisations.

What the NTO leaders want

The existing network of 73 NTOs should be reorganised to form
19 larger Sector Skills Organisations

An independent organisation should promote key skills such as
management and administration

The organisations should assess and publicise the skills needs
of their sectors, take action to develop skills and review progress in meeting
skills priorities

The Government should fund and audit the Sector Skills
Organisations according to a spending plan.

The NTOs were launched by the UK Government in
1996. Their objective was to replace the 180 sector-based training
organisations of that time, including Industry Training Organisations and
Industry Lead Bodies.

By Richard Staines

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