From education to employment

Sudakshina Mukherjee Continues to Examine the NESS

Nipping in the Bud?

Speaking of competition, one would think that skilled candidates should be recruited in the first place.

According to the figures by the National Employer Skills Survey (NESS) 2005 report, as employers experienced (unprompted) skills shortages among applicants for 17 % of all vacancies, equivalent to 5 (unprompted) skills shortage vacancies (SSVs) per 1,000 employees. These exactly matched the figures for 2004. By comparison, skills-related recruitment difficulties were more intense in 2001.


As employers then experienced (unprompted) skill shortages for 21 % of vacancies.While skills-related recruitment difficulties affect relatively few employers -and the number of SSVs relative to employment is low- once prompted on the issue, employers indicated that they experience skill shortages among applicants for a quarter of all vacancies. Skilled and qualified applicants face a lot of competition already and the screening process for getting into unpaid placements, let alone employment, is quite extensive.

So, where exactly is the skills-shortage and how can it be curbed more effectively?Again, the CBI report finds: “Employers, as customers of further education colleges, are also not well served. Employers invest a huge amount ““ £33.3billion ““ in employee development, but many FE colleges see little of this because businesses do not consider colleges to be the best providers for their needs. While some colleges have improved their operations to meet employer needs, the CBI’s 2005 Employment Trends Survey showed that employers still prefer private training providers.”

A Level Playing Field

The report goes on to say: “Establishing a level playing field between all colleges and PVI providers in delivering further education and training will improve the quality of service. Evidence from the Employer Training Pilots (ETPs), which are open to PVI providers, clearly demonstrates how demand-led provision ““ putting choice into the hands of learners and employers ““ and competition can lead to more responsive provision which meets user needs.

Train to Gain (T2G), the national-level roll-out of ETPs, has the potential to transform workplace training. The impetus for providers from all sectors to raise their game is the key reason why we believe competition is the right route to raising standards.” The NESS report also finds that employers spent approximately £33.3 billion on training over the previous 12 months, the bulk of which was spent on the labour costs of those being trained (48 %) and the management of training and labour costs of those delivering training (35 %).The total budget for training staff is equivalent to £1,550 per employee and just under £2,550 per person trained.

So, these figures suggest that the gap in providing training for less-skilled staff is because of the sheer volume of expenses. The bottom line is to ensure pupils stay in education, be it academic or vocational; however, on a deeper level, it is more about looking at how establishments could prioritise between funding for recruiting suitable applicants and providing training for those employees who deserve it.

Sudakshina Mukherjee

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