From education to employment

UCU point to reviews potential shortfall

A government report highlighting the optimal skills mix for the UK has been thrown into doubt following claims that its training recommendations will not be strong enough.

Speaking on the forthcoming Leitch review of skills earlier this week at the Labour Party Conference, joint secretary of the University and College Union, (UCU) Paul Mackney, predicts a national skills crisis if stricter measures for employers are not introduced. The report claims state funding has reached its limits, and without improved employers” contributions, the existing skills gap will widen.

The report was commissioned by the government to identify an optimal skills mix for the UK in 2020; to maximise economic growth, productivity, and social justice, and to consider the policy implications of achieving the level of change required.

However, the UCU believe the government is working on an assumption that does not reflect reality. Though there has been no specific research into employer attitudes to payment of fees for adult education courses, “more than one in three employers refuse to train their workers, despite government incentives to help them,” according to the Trades Union Congress” Vision for Skills 2020.

Mr Mackney explains: “It is sad to predict that the forthcoming proposals from Leitch are unlikely to solve the UK’s skills crisis because they are unlikely to include stronger new measures that will commit employers to provide adequate training for their workforces. Without this, many adults will continue to be denied the opportunity to reach their full potential”.

Calling for a range of new legal and fiscal interventions, Mr Mackney’s suggestions include introducing training tax credits; a provision in the Companies Act obliging companies to divulge investment in training; paid educational leave for employees; the inclusion of education and training in bargaining grounds for unions; education & training committees formed in each workplace, and allocated places for trade union representatives on all learning and skills bodies.

Mr Mackney will appeal to the government to lead the way by requiring public sector bodies to adopt such measures first.

Leona Baldwin.

Related Articles