Union calls on HR help for training crusades

GMB general secretary John Edmonds has launched a scathing attack on the
Government’s training initiatives.

Edmonds ridiculed them as "a handful of measures no one has ever heard
of". And he described Tony Blair’s so-called flexible workforce as more
like that of a Third World nation.

Edmonds said one in five people is illiterate, with even more lacking
numeracy skills.

"The Government’s response to this massive problem has been low
profile, patchy and inadequate, and that means the industry has to do it
itself," he told last week’s Anuman conference in London.

Most companies train only 10 to 30 per cent of staff, he added. He urged HR
managers to be forthright in their demands. "Every company needs to
appoint a crusader who is going to point out the training needs without fear or
favour so it keeps training on the agenda," he said.

Edmonds urged the Government to look to the Army where "training,
training, training" is recognised as the only key to success.

"The Army knows how to do it properly. But I am afraid that the
programmes the Government has put together show such a lack of imagination that
they are likely to be off-putting to an extent that is amazing.

"Most backward of all is the Government’s attitude which says, ‘We
cannot put another burden on business’. That is why we cannot create the
flexible workforce for a modern economy. I have never known a company to go
bust because it trained too much."

Speaking afterwards, Edmonds also called on the Government to produce
legislation requiring organisations to train staff. Anyone failing to comply,
he said, should pay a financial penalty.

A spokesman for the DfEE said requiring employers to train could be
counter-productive.

By Helen Rowe

Government training initiatives

• University for industry

• Individual learning accounts

• Lifelong learning development plans

• Strategic lifelong learning partnership

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