From education to employment

Sector Skills Agreements and Union Learning Reps Vital to Improve Learning Opportunities

The TUC has issued a joint statement with Asset Skills highlighting the need to improve work ““ based skills provision and the need for greater co ““ operation across the sector.

Following their joint seminar on the subject that took place on the 1st of July, Asset Skills, the Sector Skills Council (SSC) responsible for coordinating cross ““ sector strategies addressing the Skills for Life agenda, and the TUC stated that they needed to work in partnership to ensure that the best possible opportunities were available for skills improvement in the workplace. This is a crucial component in meeting the aims of the Skills for Life agenda.

The Statement of Intent

In the statement, Brendan Barber (TUC General Secretary) and Richard Beamish (Chief Executive of Asset Skills) said that they recognised the vital role played by adult literacy, numeracy and language skills in the workplace. They also stated that the best method for improving these was to foster ever greater cooperation between their two organisations.

This comes at a time when the need to improve basic skills amongst the population up to the age of 18 is being recognised by greater investment in this area. In much of the recent comment on the subject of funding for the FE sector, much has been made of the reduced increase in funding compared with previous years. One of the areas hardest hit, featuring an absolute reduction in funding, is adult (or post 19) education as the money is needed to meet Government targets for skills and qualifications levels up to 18.

As such, this document expresses one of the new routes that adult skills training may be required to take, encouraging adults to expand their skills and raise the level of their basic skills through other means such as Union Learning Reps. In the statement, Mr. Beamish and Mr. Barber state that “Improving Skills for Life is at the heart of priorities for the TUC and Asset Skills and the wider Skills for Business network.”

Strategy in Partnership

The partnership between the TUC and Asset Skills will play a pivotal role in ensuring that employees have access to good opportunities for skills development and improvement. This will encourage employers to raise the productivity and enhance their workforce’s skills in the future, thus following the logical path as employers recognise the increase in skills will be reflected in a happier and more productive workforce. The partnership will also enable employees to realise their potential in ways that had previously not been open to them, benefiting both the work place and society as a whole.

The statement recognises the importance of breaking the cycle of poor skills in family and community groups, and promises to pay attention to the need to improve recruitment and retention of employees with more developed skills in addition to improving the skills of the extant workforce. Union Representatives are cited as vital to this process, and Mr. Barber and Mr. Beamish close their declaration by calling on others to place Skill for Life as high on their own agendas as it is for Asset Skills and the TUC.

Jethro Marsh

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