Manufacturing HR bosses slam skills agencies for failing to deliver the goods

Manufacturing industry HR chiefs have rounded on the government agencies set up to solve the sector’s skills problems, condemning them as “a waste of time” and “of no use”.

At a manufacturing skills summit in Oxford on Wednesday, a panel of senior HR directors from motor parts company Unipart, industrial equipment firm JCB, consumer goods multi-national Nestle and glass industry giant St Gobain turned on bodies such as the Learning and Skills Council and other industry-specific sector skills councils.

The HR directors variously described the agencies as “bureaucratic”, “over-complicated”, “a waste of time” and having “nothing to offer”.

“We’ve tried grant-funded skills and found them singularly unsuccessful; a waste of time,” said one HR boss.

Another HR chief said: “By the time you’ve got to know about them it’s a year, then you start to engage with them, then everything changes; they are over-complicated and not well publicised.”

Asked to indicate whether or not they had engaged with any of the agencies, less than 12 of the 100 delegates answered ‘yes’. All 12 said the liaison had not been successful.

Glen White, chief executive of the Manufacturing Alliance, which hosted the debate, said: “Some of the agencies are quite new, so I wasn’t too surprised at the lack of visibility. But I was taken aback by the ferocity of the response.”

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