Skills open letter calls for commitment to training despite downturn

Industry leaders have called on UK employers to commit to training their employees in spite of the deteriorating economy.

In an open letter published in many national daily newspapers, senior figures including CBI director-general Richard Lambert and Marks & Spencer chairman Sir Stuart Rose warned that cutting staff training budgets was a “false economy”.

They insisted that investment in staff skills would strengthen businesses for when the economy improved.

The letter was also signed by Sir Michael Rake, chairman of BT Group and the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) Mervyn Davies, chairman of Standard Chartered bank and Brendan Barber, general secretary of the TUC.

It read: “Investing now in building new skills will put us in the strongest position as the economy recovers. From our experience in previous downturns, it was the businesses that did invest in their staff that saw the most dynamic recovery.”

UKCES was launched in April 2008 to help enforce the recommendations of the 2006 Leitch Report, which called for all employers to train their staff to Level 2. In the report, Lord Sandy Leitch recommended that if not enough employers had signed the voluntary skills pledge by 2010, the government should make skills training a legal requirement.

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