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Budget Threat to Government Training


National School of Government chief executive and principal David Spencer has urged government departments not to “sleepwalk into cutting learning and development budgets without really thinking through the implications”, in response to pressure on departmental budgets due to efficiency targets.

In an interview with Whitehall & Westminster World, and hot on the heels of the Leitch report urging raised skills at all levels in the UK, Spencer said that conversations between the National School and departments had indicated that training and development budgets were vulnerable.

He stressed that Whitehall’s paymasters should view training and development as an investment, and warned that the consequences of cuts could spin off into other areas such as recruitment. He explained: “Organisations that spend money and invest in their people find it much easier to attract and retain the best people.”

Spencer, whose most recent career was in the private sector as group HR director at Smiths Industries and then managing director of an international group of businesses in Smiths, says he is not seeking to dissuade departments from cutting budgets, but says there is “an issue around people wanting to take the knife to an easy target.” He acknowledged that the National School must look at more cost effective products in line with departmental needs particularly in a Civil Service that is shrinking and reliant on its people coping with increasing change and complexity. Spencer stresses that in this environment the emphasis should be on quality and value rather than price alone.

The full interview is available at the Whitehall & Westminster World website.


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