From education to employment

Two years on for the Skills Pledge, by LSC chairman Chris Banks

Last month we celebrated the second anniversary of the Skills Pledge, an initiative which has had unprecedented success since its first launch.

In two years, over 16,295 employers, ranging from FTSE companies to Government departments to SMEs have made the Pledge and today, over 6.3 million people are covered by the Skills Pledge. These numbers have exceeded our targets because businesses and employers are increasingly recognising that training carries huge benefits not only for them, but also for the workforce and the wider economy.

Making the Pledge is a way for companies and organisations to show a public commitment to developing the skills of their employees, including all of those lacking basic skills or a first full Level 2 qualification.

The Skills Pledge is a promise that, through training, employers will work to boost the productivity and efficiency of their organisation. It is about realising the potential of employees by developing their basic skills and working towards relevant, valuable qualifications, in turn, demonstrating just how important the workforce is by making a public show of that belief.

There are also benefits for businesses as a whole. When considering the alarming fact that those who do not train their workforce are 2.5 times as likely to fail as those that do, it helps to reinforce just how important a commitment to training employees is in determining an organisation’s success. Employers are encouraged to upskill their people to the level required by their industry and their specific organisational needs.

We also know, through research, that those who do not invest in their workforce, are sacrificing committed, high-value, productive employees who have the potential to boost the reputation and quality of the business. In fact, the National Audit Office discovered that an encouraging 90 per cent of companies said training had resulted in demonstrable benefits such as increased productivity, improved employee morale, better employee commitment and involvement in the business.

You may ask what effect the Pledge has on businesses. The Skills Pledge is not simply a promise, but a guarantee to implement positive measures and develop tailored action plans. Organisations will be able to drive forward one comprehensive, strategic training programme for the entire workforce, resulting in cost and time efficiencies. Over a third of businesses that have made the Skills Pledge now have a robust training programme in place. This proves how businesses who make the Pledge are actively working on real schemes and programmes for their workforce in order to equip them for the future.

Part of the Pledge also allows employers to drive forward and establish a culture change in the workplace. It enables organisations to take control of training and focus on the skills that they need to succeed, but at the same time improves morale and provide staff with the opportunity to improve their wider careers and life prospects.

Despite the challenging economic circumstances that we currently face, employers are continuing to make the Skills Pledge. Having been convinced of the need to invest in skills and training throughout more difficult times, employers are strengthening their organisations in preparation for when the upturn comes.

The National Employer Service recently held a seminar/conference to look at how new industries emerging in Britain require new skills. During the event, E.ON and DSG Retail Ltd were presented with their certificates of commitment to making the Skills Pledge. An increasing number of organisations are making the Pledge because they understand that for Britain to be more competitive and more successful in the future, we need to invest in the skills of our workforce now so they can adapt to the changing industries and environment.

The Skills Pledge has been a great success but there is more to do. The Pledge is not just about recognising the potential of employees by developing their basic skills; it is also about working towards a successful company. We need to pass on the message to businesses and organisations that making a public commitment through the Skills Pledge is making a strong and positive commitment to your business and the people in it.

Chris Banks is chairman of the LSC, which exists to make England better skilled and more competitive


Read other FE News articles by Chris Banks:

LSC chairman Chris Banks: ‘One year on for the Training Quality Standard’


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