Skills watchdog calls for publicly funded employability training

Publicly-funded education and training must help students gain the skills needed for 21st century business, according to a report published today by the government’s skills policy watchdog, the UK Commission for Employment and Skills.

The government should help them become recession-proof learners by making them more employable, the commission said.

The report finds that although some schools, colleges, universities and training providers prepare their students well for the workplace, too many do not and employers have to spend time and money on new recruits to give them everyday skills, such as how to take a telephone message or write a report.

The commission challenges publicly-funded providers of education and training to put employability at the heart of everything they do. It also says the government and funding bodies should ensure schools and colleges give the development of employability skills more priority.

Chris Humphries, chief executive of the UK Commission said: “Despite decades of discussions around – and definitions of – employability skills, employers seem to be more worried than ever that many job candidates simply don’t have these skills.

“Employers accept that they have shared responsibility to provide their employees with specialist and technical skills, and they’re happy to do this. What they’re not happy about is having to teach people fresh out of education or training how to write reports in English, rather than text-speak, or how to turn up for work on time.”

After examining the approaches and experience of more than 200 different learning providers, The Employability Challenge report focuses on 20 case studies giving concrete examples of how employability skills can be effectively developed.”

The recommendations contained in the report are backed by the employer body the CBI.

The commission identifies six key features which distinguish the most successful programmes. Programmes should be based on real workplace practice and should be practical and applied in nature, the commission said. It also said courses should be personalised, serious and disciplined, reflective and underpinned by a ‘whole institution commitment to employability’.

Last year the commission called on businesses to clearly define their skills shortages so they can get the most out of government funding.

Humphries was appointed chief executive of the UK Commission for Employment and Skills in 2007.

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