HR chiefs have called on sector skills councils to develop more industry-tailored online training and development tools for employees.
It follows the launch of a new literacy and numeracy online assessment service by the Skills for Health sector skills council last week, which enables healthcare workers to take part in real life exercises such as listening to messages from patients and interpreting instructions, tables and charts.
Employers can gauge the literacy and numeracy skills of staff and use the information to support skills development activities and a route into career progression.
Sainsbury’s called on the Sector Skills Council for Retail to develop a similar tool geared towards the retail industry, which would see staff performing exercises with familiar items such as cereal boxes or clothes rail hangers.
Sue Round, head of learning and development at Sainsbury’s said: “That would help people with engagement as they would be routed in their day to day [environment]. So they could see the immediate benefits.”
Andreas Ghosh, head of HR at the London Borough of Lewisham and lead on workforce development at the Public Sector People Managers Association (PPMA), said the body had been examining similar tools.
“Things tailored to a specific sector are useful. The key is to get people to take accountability for their own development. It’s the route by which you are most likely to be motivated to learn.”
Tom Richmond, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s adviser on skills, described the initiative as promising. “If employers could build this kind of literacy and numeracy into professional development, it could have strong outcomes and give people targets and a sense of ownership about their own learning,” he said.
“In terms of results, literacy and numeracy skills can offer employers a whole host of better outcomes in terms of job prospects, so improving their skills is the right move. It can help with retention and lower turnover at work.”
Richmond added: “If it [the tool] identifies skill shortages, I would hope an employer would build on that rather than ignoring it.”
Chris Humphries, chief executive of the UK Commission on Employment and Skills, said the initiative was a ‘key step forward’, adding: “This is one we should all be looking at as if it works with health, it will generate good signals about the way computer-based, contextualised approaches work in other sectors.”