From education to employment

Sudakshina Mukherjee on the National Employer Skills Survey (NESS) and Wha

Following the article on the National Employer Skills Survey (NESS) 2005 report, issued and compiled by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), here is a further look at the issues raised therein.

There were a number of findings which show that the figures have not actually budged at all over a number of years. The fact that there has hardly been any change in the figures of solving skills-related recruitment difficulties from 2005 to 2006 is an issue of concern.


A report by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), entitled “Further Skills for Success: Competition delivers for learners,” touches upon the static nature of this position: “Improvements to the skills of UK workers have contributed to around one fifth of annual growth in the UK economy over the past 25 years”¦Improving skills more quickly than in the past has the potential to increase this contribution, but it requires better delivery by public and private providers in response to demand from learners and employers. A successful demand-led system will have high quality tailored training provision at its heart.”

Secondly, the proportion of establishments reporting any (unprompted) skill-shortage vacancies (SSVs) has remained unchanged at 4 % since 2001. So, while it is great this figure does not seem to get any higher, the fact that it does not decrease is also a cause for concern for all involved. More importantly, how can this figure be reduced?

Back to Basics

The CBI report believes the solution lies at a grassroot level: “Over recent years a sustained higher level of investment has gone into the education system. Much of this additional spending has rightly focused on schools ““ low levels of literacy and numeracy must be tackled as they hold school leavers back by damaging their prospects in employment and wider life.”

While this is a long-term plan, the direct impact upon employees who are faced with a skills-shortage is going to be minimal. So what needs to be addressed is more high-quality training that should be regarded as an important component in the budgets of establishments. So far, 65 % of employers had funded or arranged any training or development for any of their workforce in the previous 12 months. This figure is little changed from 2004 (64 %), though higher than the percentage providing training in 2003 (59 %). What really needs to be investigated now is why the remaining 35 % of establishments have not incorporated training allowances.

The CBI outlines the importance on the provision of high-quality training: “All providers in the further education sector should deliver the highest quality of service to clients ““ be they individual learners or employers. Bodies that have commissioned their services, such as Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) and the LSC are entitled to demand high quality provision. PVI providers have skills and experience to offer and it is the right choice to involve them. Extending the use of competition in the sector is, we believe, the only workable way to ensure the best provider is able to deliver the high quality service the learner and employer requires.”

Sudakshina Mukherjee

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