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CBI survey highlights importance of utilising skills in enhancing competitiveness

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The CBI Employment Trends Survey 2000 has highlighted the importance of high levels of workforce and management skills as critical factors in influencing present and future competitiveness.

The survey of 829 companies in the UK shows that employers are recognising that it is not just a case of equipping employees with the necessary skills, but that skills utilisation is just as important, with 21 percent of companies reporting that improved utilisation of skills contributed towards the organisation's competitiveness. The report comments that new-found skills must be capitalised on if the time and money invested in that employees training is not to be wasted.

An encouraging trend is evident towards placing an emphasis on employability, with almost 50 percent of employers currently training beyond the needs of the job and 52 percent introducing employee development programmes. 66 percent of employers provided support for independent study, and 44 percent supported time off for this study.

Less encouragingly, only 11 percent of companies currently have any involvement with Individual Learning Accounts, but this could be explained by the fact that the government has yet to fully implement ILAs across the country. 64 percent of respondents had achieved or were committed to the Investors in People standard, which suggests that this group are over-representative of organisations with a strong learning culture - the national average is only 30 percent.

On the whole, the survey found an increased commitment to on-the-job training, off-the-job training and training particularly targeted for the individual. Smaller firms were who were twice as likely to have increased their expenditure on training than larger firms, suggesting they have been hit harder by skills shortages, and perhaps reflecting the fact that it is harder to provide on-the-job training if there are fewer employees available to act as coaches.

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