Train to Gain is about so much more than just ‘free Level 2s’

When I read that Conservative leader David Cameron promised employers more independence in developing skills training (Personnel Today, 4 December, pictured right), I thought it might be a ringing endorsement of Train to Gain, which tries to do just that. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be.

However, there were important synergies with the proposals and the Train to Gain service which has been developed with employers for employers, and should be supporting the individual specific needs of all the organisations that take advantage of it – more than 50,000 so far.

I still worry that Train to Gain is misrepresented by many within the skills world as being about ‘free Level 2s’, which misses the point of the service entirely. Train to Gain is a service that responds to the business and skills needs of all employers at all levels of skill.

The frustration in many cases is not that further education (FE) colleges cannot respond to local demand it is that they do not. Train to Gain funding gives an incentive to colleges to respond skills brokers give them many leads to follow up in addition to their own efforts.

The Learning and Skills Council is helping the sector to forge a reputation for responsiveness to employers in many ways. I was especially pleased recently to host the launch of 26 training providers that have achieved the new standard for employer responsiveness, developed with the CBI and other employer bodies. These providers, including many colleges across the country, will be in the vanguard to establish a new and enhanced reputation for FE with employers.

David Way, director of skills, Learning and Skills Council

Resentment of appraisals comes as no surprise

The research from Investors in People highlighting the fact that UK workers have fallen out of love with the appraisal system (, 3 December) is of little surprise.

Companies often delegate appraisals to line managers, who have no HR experience and view the process as a management chore.

It is also true that many managers are ill-prepared for the process, and their ambivalence is immediately picked up by staff, who see the system as nothing more than a ‘tick-box’ exercise, and leave feeling deflated and unmotivated.

We all know that high staff turnover is the most costly and time-consuming issue for any business. By re-instating the status of the appraisal, so that it is once again seen as a serious employee development process and management tool, rather than a potential nuisance, businesses could go a long way to stemming the high level of churn that is so endemic in UK companies.

Gareth Chick, director, Spring Partnerships

CIPD turns down golden opportunity in China

The CIPD has lost a golden opportunity indeed. I have close ties with the HR fraternity in India, and see that the American Society for Human Resource Management is doing very well in the country.

I wonder why the CIPD did not do its part when given the chance in China?

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CIPD China deal snub fails to increase HR standing

Given China’s growing importance on the world economic stage, and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s (CIPD) wish to be an international organisation of influence, I am very surprised and dismayed at the institute’s view (‘CIPD snubs Chinese HR deal over cash concerns’, Personnel Today, 11 December). I cannot believe that financial considerations alone drove this decision.

If the CIPD felt that the proposal was ‘too resource intensive’ (presumably for its internal resources), could it not have considered using some of the considerable expertise of its own members, perhaps in partnership with its internal experts?

How can HR professionals expect to be taken seriously by business leaders if their professional body fails to seize such a business opportunity to increase its international standing?

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Government must do more for working cancer carers

The government should lend its support to businesses and their staff through its Carers Strategy, so that all parents caring for a child with cancer can expect planned, paid leave and an entitlement to a career break (‘Supporting carers in the workplace’, Personnel Today, 11 December).

People caring for someone with cancer should have full rights at work. When a child is first born, parents are entitled to time off and other rights. But when a child has cancer and needs their parents most, such rights are not on offer. Many parents caring for children with cancer resort to using their own holiday allowance or sick leave to care for their ill child and some parents have had to give up work altogether.

Some employers have shown their courage in supporting parents caring for children with cancer, but others struggle to find practical ways of doing so.

Organisations that support carers at work can find there are wider benefits for them, including increased productivity, reduced sick leave, and increased staff retention.

Dr Carole Easton, chief executive, CLIC Sargent

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