This month’s network

Funding changes bring opportunities

The change from Training and Enterprise Councils to Learning and Skills
Councils must not be ignored by employers. It means that, for the first time,
businesses can speak directly to regional training bodies.

As you are probably aware, the new LSCs, which have replaced Tecs, are now
formulating their plans in local areas. This new set-up allows employers to
discuss their training needs with LSCs and tell the LSCs what they want from
local training providers.

What you may not know is that there is also a myriad of changes in the
financial systems, including the standardising of the funding rate in some of
the funding streams, which will affect all training providers.

The changes should mean wider and more flexible training provision, and
could mean greater opportunity for private training companies – and even
employers themselves – to become training providers.

Employers are encouraged to talk to their local LSC to make sure their
voices are heard and they have "real" input into the provision being
planned to make sure it meets their needs and the needs of other employers.

Cath Whelan
Chief executive, Funding Finders

Sidestep IT skills crisis

The IT industry is suffering from a skills shortage because it simply isn’t
attracting enough people from diverse backgrounds, according to a recent survey
by So, in the current turbulent business climate, why aren’t
companies responding?

On the whole, it is because the board still isn’t buying into the importance
of developing IT professionals. Providing appropriate learning opportunities
must become a priority for companies and be driven from the top. And that
doesn’t mean signing away the responsibility to an external training company,
it means investing the time and resources internally.

Doing this enables companies to recruit people from diverse backgrounds and
re-train them to fulfil the exact job requirements. And in today’s business
environment, "exact job requirements" are rarely as straightforward
as they seem. For example, how can companies be closely aligned to vertical
markets if they have little or no knowledge of those markets?

Market expertise and business awareness have become essential components of
an IT manager’s portfolio. Devised and run in-house, a learning programme can
fill the gap between an individual’s skillset and the demands of the job role
far more thoroughly than an external training course.

However, there will always be a need for companies to react quickly to market
demands. For example, specialists with e-business skills tend to be chased from
company to company, and no amount of planning or investment into internal
training can support this unpredictable need. There is inevitably a requirement
for buying in skills at a higher rate as new opportunities arise.

Despite these problems, investing in people in this way can only help the
image of IT as a potential career. For some people IT is perceived to have
limited prospects, because traditionally the role is largely operational.

Roger Smith            
Head of Marlborough Training Academy

Comments are closed.