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Training budget crunches causing management skills gap


While the UK is suffering from wider skills gaps than ever, it is a particular problem among those in leadership, management and technical roles because investment in training is not being targeted correctly – or simply not being made available at all.

A report, which was commissioned by the government and has just been published by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES), found that the number of people who were ‘not fully proficient’ in their jobs increased by 400,000 to 1.7 million in 2009, up from 1.3 million in 2005.
To make matters worse, the country’s creation of highly skilled jobs has been one of the lowest in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development group of nations since 2001, according to the first National Strategic Skills Audit.
Chris Humphries, the UKCES’ chief executive, said: “Despite having a more skilled workforce than at any time in our history, we still lag behind many of our major economic competitors. In order to catch up, skills investment needs to connect more to the jobs that need doing now and that will need doing in the future.”
There was also a requirement for “more and better jobs”, not simply to recover from the recession, but also to put the UK in a stronger position than ever before, he added.
The Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) echoed Humphries’ view. Penny de Valk, the ILM’s chief executive, said that the UK’s failure to produce “adequate” managers threatened its ability to compete in international markets.
“Our global competitors are already investing in developing current and future managers. If the UK is to continue to compete on a global scale, we absolutely agree that leadership and management development must remain a priority for both government and employers,” she added.
ILM research indicated that managers were systematically appointed and promoted without either appropriate training or support, de Valk said. As many as 60% were ‘reluctant managers’ who did not choose the role and who typically moved into the position in the middle of their career with little or no management training.
“These managers absolutely need to be supported to develop the skills, knowledge and awareness to make a difference in these roles that are critical to organisational success,” she said.
The release of the report coincided with another from the Alliance of Sector Skills Councils (ASSC), which found that nearly a third of the 209 companies it surveyed were unable to recruit staff with the required skill sets.
Just under two thirds also believed that government investment in education was not well targeted to the needs of their sector.
One trade association in the facilities management, housing and property sector that sat on an ASSC panel told Personnel Today that: “Currently there is funding chaos, especially for apprenticeships and ‘Train to Gain’.”
Other panel members called for the government to support those organisations that did provide training through concessions or tax breaks.

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