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Businesses Unconvinced on Skills Pledge


Almost half of employers are unwilling to make a “skills pledge” to get their workforce up to a level 2 qualification, according to a Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and KPMG survey.

The latest CIPD/KPMG Labour Market Outlook survey found that two-thirds of UK employers agreed with prioritising basic skills training. While 54% were happy to make the pledge, the remainder said they were unlikely to to do so.

The main stumbling blocks in this 46% were that employers were concerned about the cost or resources involved, and a third were not convinced of the business case. Nearly a quarter (22%) cited lack of commitment from senior management and 13% complained of a lack of employee motivation.

Gerwyn Davies, co-author of the report, at the CIPD said: "These findings underline the Institute's scepticism towards the extent to which Government can influence how organisations should spend their training budgets. With a majority of employers reporting that the current skills agencies are not meeting their needs, any voluntary pledge must give employers sufficient flexibility to meet their individual needs. Employers will only invest in training if there is a clear business case for them to do so, so financial incentives might form a part of the developing policy mix."

Employers reported particular concern about the quality of training given by the Government's skills agencies and showed disappointing awareness of, and concerns about Train to Gain, the Government's flagship skills initiative.

However, when the benefits of Train to Gain were explained, the number of employers expressing an interest in taking advantage of the scheme almost doubled to 29%.

Fifty-eight per cent of employers surveyed said that help with funding of training would increase their level of contact with public training agencies. But employers also wanted agencies to be more responsive to their needs (mentioned by 51%) and to operate with less bureaucracy (50%).

Sara Caplan of KPMG said: "The new Skills Envoy, Sir Digby Jones, has his work cut out in gaining more employer support, to avoid the possibility of legislation being introduced to force the issue.

"Employers also reported some concern over the quality of Train to Gain brokerage. It will be critically important to increasing the number of employers and employees involved to make sure the brokers are well trained and have a consistent approach to helping to identify skills need and find appropriate training.

"In addition, we would hope that the new Commission for Employment and Skills not only drives us forward towards the goal of achieving world class skills for the UK, but also support the reduction in complexity and bureaucracy of the current skills landscape."


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