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A week in training: Skills ‘more important than ever’ says CBI


This week: The CBI finds that 50% of employers lack confidence in the UK having enough skilled people to meet demand; the CIPD warns of dark days ahead for employment figures; the Working Futures report predicts two million extra jobs over the next eight years; meanwhile SMEs are urged to dip into a leadership training fund; and Elliot Maisie reveals all from the inauguration ball. By Claire Savage.

CBI says skills more important than ever during recession
Skills are even more important during tough economic times, according to a new report by the CBI. The report, Reaching Further: Workforce development through employer-FE college partnership, calls for better and closer links between employers and further education (FE) colleges to help firms plug future skills gaps, drive up productivity and improve the prospects of British businesses in the face of the global downturn. Commissioned by the Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS), the report shows that almost half of firms (47%) have links with FE colleges. More than 50% of employers lack confidence in there being enough skilled people to meet future demand.

A number of lessons are drawn from the research in the report for strengthening the employer-college partnership, including that:

  • Effective customer relationship management is essential for colleges as is flexibility to deliver training where and when it is needed.

  • Dialogue with employers must be based on skills needs.

  • Continual change in training provision is inevitable so colleges need to be able to adapt.

  • While employers are interested in skills not qualifications, they should appreciate the value staff place on formal qualifications.
  • A key lesson for Government policy-makers, according to the report, is that training should be focused on real business needs, rather than just delivering qualifications. LSIS’s World Class Skills programme supports providers in their relationships with employers. More information is at

    SMEs can access leadership training fund
    As unemployment spirals towards two million (1.92 million), the Learning and Skills Council is urging employers to take advantage of a leadership training fund to protect themselves and staff from redundancy in the tough times ahead.

    The LSC's leadership and management programme aims to help employers with between 10 and 250 employees, offering key directors and managers the skills needed to grow their business. Businesses that sign-up are visited by a Train to Gain skills broker who develops a personal action plan for the manager and helps to find appropriate training courses - ranging from formal training, where managers work towards specific qualifications, to informal training, such as coaching and mentoring. More information is available at

    CIPD warns of 'dark days' for employment
    As unemployment figures nudged two-million this week, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development has warned that the darkest days are yet to come. It's chief economist, John Philpott, said that all sectors were recording fewer vacancies, with full-time workers and the over-50s worst hit. Philpott added: “The worst of this jobs crisis is yet to come. We are entering the dark days and should be prepared for a depressing period when - as in the 1980s and 1990s recessions - the benefit claimant count will rise by more than 100,000 each month. And even on the most optimistic of scenarios around 1 in 10 people will be unemployed by the time the jobs recovery begins."

    ...But light at the end of the tunnel?
    However, a new report by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) predicts strong growth in some job sectors over the next eight years, despite the current downturn.

    Working Futures, predicts employment growth in business, education, distribution and transport will remain solid over the long term to 2017. Employment is projected to continue to rise over the decade as a whole, with the creation of 13.5 million job openings, of which two million will be new.

    Skills secretary John Denham welcomed the report: "In the short-term we are making sure that people who lose their jobs have access to the real help they need. But we must not lose sight of the future needs of our economy and do all we can to help people get the secure career jobs they want and need in the industries where growth will be the strongest in the coming years.

    "This is why we are working to reform the skills system, and will take a more proactive role in key sectors to bring employers, training providers and unions together to tackle these key job shortages."

    Who deserves an ALT honour?
    The Association for Learning Technology (ALT) is calling for nominations for Honorary Life Membership of ALT. Its chief executive Seb Schmoller said: “We welcome nominations for the Honorary Life Membership which is awarded to individuals whom the association believes have made an outstanding and sustained contribution to the advancement of the Association for Learning Technology’s aims. ALT’s mission is to further the development of learning technology in a national or international context through research, practice, policy-development, leadership, or a combination of these.” For further information and the nomination form, please visit:

    Calls for government to promote equal pay
    As the Equal Pay and Flexible Working Bill had its second reading in the House of Lords today (Friday), the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) called for a more concerted effort from government to promote the business benefits of Equal Pay practices.

    Charles Cotton, CIPD’s Reward Adviser said: “Employees who feel unfairly treated are unlikely to be engaged and motivated to help the business succeed. Conversely, well-informed, fairly-treated employees are more likely to be powerful advocates and motivated contributors to the future success of their companies.”

    Cotton said that the CIPD's forthcoming 2009 Reward Management Survey found that only 54% of employers have conducted or are intending to conduct an EPR, with the majority of these in the public sector. In the interests of pay transparency, he also called for government to outlaw “gagging clauses” that stop employees discussing pay with colleagues.

    Party of the decade
    The historic moment of President Barack Obama's inauguration in the US will no doubt become one of those classic “where were you when?” questions of the future. Elliot Maisie can tell you exactly where he was – he was there at the inauguration ball. In his latest blogspot he offers an insider's view of the party to end all parties, the dancing 'til 1am and the eventual stampede on the cloakroom.


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