New skills not new jobs, warns CIPD ahead of Budget

The CIPD has warned the government against focusing on job creation ahead of skills and training in tomorrow’s Budget.

John Philpott, chief economist at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said that although many top university graduates would be joining the ranks of unemployed, training  was still essential to improve overall employability.

“We approached the current recession with a backlog of joblessness, and they are the ones who will be at the back of the queue when looking for work,” Philpott told delegates at the CIPD’s HRD 2009 conference.

“Being in a recession can mean many employable people lose their jobs, but it’s the less employable people who will suffer the most.”

Unveiled at the conference was a survey of almost 900 learning and development managers which found the median training spend per employee had fallen by almost a third over the past year, from £300 to £220.

In response to falling budgets, almost half of respondents (47%) said they were making greater use of line managers to coach and mentor employees. A further 57% said they have relied on in-house training programmes more in the past two years.

Chris Parkinson, talent development director for American Express, told delegates his company had cut the majority of its external training programmes in January, and was relying on mentoring by senior staff instead.

Parkinson told Personnel Today: “We refocused our talent management programme on pivotal positions to be more strategic about the work we do in the area. We in talent management have room to breathe and look at how we want to manage the skills of our workforce, unlike many of HR involved in restructuring. This time should not be wasted, as we don’t yet know when the upturn could come.”

American Express announced it was cutting 10% of its workforce late last year, as well as freezing recruitment in response to the downturn.

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