This month’s news.

London held back by skill shortages

Business growth in London is still being impeded by skills shortages,
according to the latest report from the London Skills Forecasting Unit.

The report, based on interviews with 5,000 employers, listed the shortages
as a major constraint, alongside cashflow problems.

Ironically employers are spending on training – the report estimates around
£600m annually – but lack of time is a barrier to more training take-up.

Analysis identified a strong link between training provision, productivity,
increased sales and labour turnover. Employers who were recognised as Investors
in People were characterised by high levels of training.

Shortfalls were seen in IT training, and businesses must learn how to use
technology more effectively, says the report.

Unit head Simon Ellis believes London shows every sign of experiencing the
"new economy". He said, "In the US there is a feeling that the
productivity bubble may have burst. If we are to avoid this in the UK, we need
to maximise opportunities for growth."

Growth will only come about if employers use IT effectively and develop new
groups of people, he added. "Those in work are reasonably well-qualified.
The real challenge is to push beyond the New Deal and diversify recruitment

Qualifications route reviewed

Mapping is on-going between Ufi and qualifications body the QCA to ensure
learndirect modules are transferable.

Yet Ufi still describes itself as an enabler. "If learners want their
learning to result in credit towards a qualification, the learning centre will
be able to guide them to the appropriate courses and assessment requirements,"
said Ufi head of quality and qualifications Sandy Goulding.

learndirect says it does not intend to be a qualification or awarding body,
but others remain sceptical. "If you’re sending learning material down the
wire, it’s not a giant step to put in an assessment at the end and eureka –
you’ve got a Ufi certificate in basic IT," said City & Guilds director
general Dr Nick Carey.

Expats are not given training

Employers are failing to top up essential skills for expatriates and their
partners, according to new research from the Industrial Society.

In Managing Expatriates, its latest Best Practice report, the society found
that only 64 per cent of expatriate employees receive ongoing, long-term career
training during their assignments, despite the reasons for recruitment cited by
employers. For example, most say they recruit expatriate staff to fill
personnel or skills gaps in an overseas subsidiary, to develop them by giving
them international experience and "to develop and foster organisational

The Industrial Society is shocked at the low level of preparation provided
for partners. Just over half of the respondents send them on field visits to
host or other countries and 10 per cent of respondents interview candidate’s
partners before the posting.

"This figure is surprisingly low given that an unhappy partner is often
one of the main reasons for the failure of a placement," said Alex
Swarbrick, who conducted the research.

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