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ELWa Report States Employers Need More Say in Training

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More employer control over the training on offer, greater flexibility in how skills are delivered at work and a major review of vocational learning programmes such as Modern Apprenticeships, are among changes put forward for training in Wales.

Each day an estimated £1m of public money and up to £4m in private sector cash is spent on developing the skills needed by Welsh industry but, according to a broad-based team representing industry, trade unions and the public sector, there are still worrying skill shortages, and many employers don't feel current training meets their needs.

The report entitled "Developing the Workforce - Learning in and for the Workplace" stresses that individual employers must be urged to take more responsibility for job specific training in their own companies, but calls for debate on key changes designed to give firms better support in achieving their skills objectives.

Among the issues the group has put forward for discussion are:

· Measures to give employers more influence over the nature of training available - including a new flexible "Workforce Development Grant".

· The development of more business-friendly ways of delivering learning in the workplace itself - including greater use of e-learning.

· Modern Apprenticeships to become more flexible and to be positioned as a high quality and prestigious form of training, attractive to ambitious young people and adult workers alike.

· Incentives to encourage larger companies with spare in-house training capacity to share these resources with smaller firms in their localities.

· Far greater investment in building management and leadership skills - making this the primary focus of the current Modern Skills Diploma.

· Greater collaboration between providers of training to avoid duplication and ensure they are offering all of the skills needed by businesses in their regions.

· More support for employers to tackle literacy, numeracy and other basic skills deficiencies among their workers.

· A new "Strategic Sector Fund" helping different industries to establish what skills they need and work with providers to ensure those needs are met.

· A large overall increase in Education and Learning Wales's (ELWa) "Skills for Business" budget, which provides direct support to businesses to implement Investors in People or management development programmes.

Consultations over the coming weeks will lead to a final report which will, in turn, feed into the Welsh Assembly Government's "Skills and Employment Action Plan."

ELWa Chairman Sheila Drury said the review was commissioned in order to take "a thorough and honest look and how we currently build skills for the Welsh workforce".

"Not only are there skill shortages and gaps but there is evidence that this situation is prompting some employers to limit their ambitions and down-skill their businesses. There is also a perception that training courses and frameworks are not in line with the needs of business. We must face these issues and come up with solutions if Wales is to be a credible competitor in the future," she added.

The report also underlined the big increase in demand for higher level skills in Wales over the rest of the decade, including an increase of 60,000 in the number of jobs requiring NVQ 4 management level skills.

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