Training and skills initiatives: Editor’s comment

Another month and another training and skills initiative – actually make that two: the UK Commission for Employment and Skills’ (CES) employability skills project and the Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills’ training quality standard kite mark scheme.

The former will identify and recommend best practice for bringing the out of work and school leavers up to the employability mark. The latter is an effort to apply a benchmark for training providers that employers can rely on.

The first question to ask of any public sector initiative is whether or not it’s necessary. After all, no matter how cost-effective such schemes are, they cost the taxpayer money. However, the CES claims employers are finding it “extremely hard to get people with the right generic employment skills” such as literacy, numeracy, punctuality, and the ability to communicate. Can this really be so?

For example, youngsters spend longer than ever in the state educational system. Why should they be less employable than previous generations? Older people who lack ’employability skills’ are probably burdened by other issues such as caring responsibilities or bone idleness. Cracking these nuts is not simply a skills-based issue.

As for the DIUS training quality kite mark scheme, this will be taken up by the department’s core supporter, the further education (FE) sector. All well and good as far as it goes. But most L&D and HR managers do not commission training solely, if at all, from FE colleges – they tend to use individual trainers or training companies. Neither of these, other than perhaps large training provision companies, will bother with the kite mark. In that regard, it will make little difference to organisational L&D.

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