Training holds key to boosting productivity in manufacturing

The Government must encourage manufacturers to increase investment in staff
development if productivity in the UK is to be improved, according to the
Engineering Employers’ Federation.

The EEF report Unlocking Our Potential – the Case for Supporting Skills
Development, concludes that there is a proven link between lower levels of
spending on skills and training and UK productivity performance.

The report calls for workers aged over 25 to be offered modern
apprenticeships to help close the manufacturing skills gap.

It also urges the Government to align the funding rate for modern
apprenticeships for 19- to 24-year-olds with that for 16- to 18-year-olds to
encourage employers to develop employees who might have slipped through the
training net.

The report advocates replacing the Individual Learning Accounts programme,
which was suspended earlier this month after it was revealed some training
providers had abused it.

The report highlights the fact that ILAs have surpassed the Government’s
original target of 1 million accounts into which it deposited £150 if the
individual contributed £25.

Stephen Radley, the EEF’s chief economist, said, "I think something
similar to the ILAs, giving people an incentive to take up training when they
might not have done so, does have merit.

"Companies are investing more in training and development than they did
a decade ago but, at the same time, the competition is more intense and so
employers need to accentuate their emphasis on this."

Radley stressed that the problem is particularly acute at craft and
technician level, with the proportion of employees in the UK with intermediate
skills currently half the level in Germany.

The EEF study follows a joint CBI and TUC report which revealed the UK is
falling further behind its major European rivals in terms of productivity.

The EEF director general Martin Temple said, "These proposals are a
vital piece of the productivity jigsaw."

By Ben Willmott

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