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Government must promote the use of vocational qualifications, says IoD

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"There is an urgent need to take this action and increase the proportion of vocationally trained people in the UK." These are the conclusions of a survey carried out by the Institute of Directors, in a report entitled 'Vocational Training and Qualifications'.

The report, based on a survey of 483 IoD members, finds that although most of the companies surveyed were not using Modern Apprenticeship or NVQ programmes to develop staff, the vast majority of those who were found them very useful in equipping staff with the skills they needed to do their jobs.

The report showed that:

  • 36% of respondents used NVQs as a way of training some of their employees

  • Of those respondents who used NVQs, 73% considered that they equipped their employees with the skills that they need to do their jobs

  • 22% of respondents used the system of Modern Apprenticeships (MAs) as a way of training their employees

  • Of those respondents who used MAs, 80% believed that they provided their employees with the skills that they need to do their work

  • Of those respondents who used MAs, 65% indicated that the training programme had been beneficial to their business

Richard Wilson, Business Policy Executive at the IoD and author of the report, said that one of the key problems for organisations was being able to fund participation in such schemes: "Unfortunately, small firms often lack the resources to invest in training programmes and provide off the job training. Our survey revealed that only 8% of firms employing between 1-20 people used MAs as a way of training their employees, compared to 33% of respondents from companies with over 201 employees. To surmount this problem, the Government, via the new Learning and Skills Council, should be prepared to finance 50% of the costs of training individuals who take MAs in small enterprises." Wilson added that small firms would be unlikely to be able to help to ease skills shortages in this way without the extra funding.

The report also highlights what it says are the historical reasons for vocational skills shortages, arguing that until recently training was not given adequate priority by employers: 'As late as 1987, there was no systematic training for over half the workforce and less than one third of employers had a training plan or budget dedicated for training purposes.'

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