Leitch Review skills pledge only attracts a further 50 companies since June launch


Business leaders have accused the government of allowing the skills drive to stall after it admitted that only 50 signatures had been added to the Leitch skills pledge in almost three months.

The government launched the pledge on 14 June as part of its response to the Treasury-commissioned Leitch Review, published last December, which aimed to address the skills shortages in the UK.

One hundred and fifty employers signed the pledge to train all employees to Level 2 at the time of the official launch. The Leitch Review called on the government to make such training mandatory if enough signatures were not added by 2010.

But with only 200 signatures on the pledge, David Frost, director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce, questioned the government’s commitment to upping skills levels.

He told Personnel Today: “It comes as no surprise that so few businesses have signed up to the skills pledge.

“There are no resources attached to it and when Digby Jones became a minister, he was not replaced as skills envoy, begging the question of just how much importance is attached to the need to drive up skill levels.”

On his departure in July, Jones said the second part of the envoy role would be to push the pledge further to British business.

But a spokesman at the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) told Personnel Today there would be no replacement for Jones in the near future. “DIUS has been charged with driving the skills pledge forward,” he said.

Frost added that employers already trained staff and wanted support in doing this, for example through Train to Gain, rather than added bureaucracy and form filling.

Victoria Gill, adviser on training and development at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said the pledge figures were disappointing.

“After an initial flurry of companies signing up, there has not been too much growth since,” she said. “The government needs to make it clearer what it is people should be signing up to.”

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