From education to employment

Business Development Director of training provider Creating Careers comments on governments implemen

Lord Leitch’s Review of Skills Prosperity for all in the global economy was published in Dec 2006. It called upon the government, employers and individuals to work together to raise the levels of skills in the UK and recommended that Britain commit to becoming a world leader in skills by 2020.

Jonathan Ovenden is Business Development Director of Creating Careers which supplies accredited e-learning to the Further Education sector through its vision2learn brand. Here he gives a cautious welcome to the government’s response to Leitch, World Class Skills: Implementing the Leitch Review of Skills in England published in July 2007.

Lord Leitch’s report has led to a major shake up in education funding for the adult sector. Most public funding for vocational skills will now be routed through Learner Accounts and via the new Train to Gain programme which subsidises work place training. Leitch wants to give employers a bigger say in shaping training and skills programmes. In return he wants firms to sign a “pledge” promising training up to Level 2 (the equivalent of five good GCSEs) to all eligible employees. This is a serious challenge to the education sector.

Many young people do not achieve 5 GCSEs A-Cs and quite rightly the government is keen to make this group a priority. However that is only half the story. Many people leave school without the skills they need to progress in their chosen career. A few years ago the further education sector offered a wide range of vocational courses but new funding arrangements have tied their hands. Now it is much more restrictive as the adult training budget is prioritising Train to Gain. As a result, colleges are less able to offer a wide range of community and adult education that used to play a major role in engaging adults in life-long learning and improving their skills. We work with 110 colleges and they are all struggling to meet their fee contribution targets. This means that there is now a narrower range of courses available in many parts of the country.

The trouble is that the gaps are not only at level 2. A young person might have 5 GCSEs but need training in Business Administration or Customer Service or Logistics. The government believes that employers should pick up the bill but in our experience at Creating Careers, that is very unlikely to happen.

A better solution and the one we have pursued at Creating Careers is to target individuals. We offer a range of NVQ courses ““ from IT qualifications to Customer Service and Team Leading. Generally employers are more willing to say yes to individual requests than to offer a blanket approval to training. The advantage to them is that the employee has chosen the course and is motivated to succeed. This method has been amazingly successful and so far we have 14,000 candidates enrolled on courses which are eligible for Train to Gain funding.

My final reservation about the report is that it is going to be difficult to meet the government’s targets. There are incentives for those who are in work and those who want to improve their job and life prospects but there are more than 7 million adults who are currently economically inactive. Just how are we going to reach those “hard to reach” learners?

For more information about Creating Careers and its range of Vision2learn courses, see or contact Jonathan Ovenden at Creating Careers, Tel: 07730 402 653; email: [email protected].

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