Government skills pledge ‘patronising’

Skills pledge gets mixed reaction from business

The government’s skills pledge, which it hopes all businesses will sign to show their commitment to staff training, has been branded as ‘unhelpful and patronising’ by small firms.

Businesses that sign up to the scheme, launched yesterday, will pledge to support all their employees develop basic literacy and numeracy skills and work towards a full Level 2 qualification, equivalent to five GCSEs at grades A* to C.

However, David Frost, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), has questioned the value of the pledge, arguing that this is not the right way to increase training in the workplace.

He said: “We support the government’s drive to ensure that employees receive training that helps them in their careers but employers tell me that this pledge is unhelpful and patronising.

“The overwhelming majority of businesses are committed to training their staff, albeit not always through standard qualifications as often these do not meet their needs.”

Frost added that BCC members are concerned that the pledge will divert essential public resources away from making the skills infrastructure simpler for employers, in order to make sure that businesses sign up to it.

Britain’s manufacturers, on the other hand, have expressed support of the pledge, as a means by which businesses can help close the UK’s skills gap.

Martin Temple, EEF director general, commented: “Investing in workforce training is not just good practice in a modern economy but vital if the UK is to improve its productivity and competitiveness.”

The unions have also welcomed the pledge, which they believe will benefit thousands of employees.

© Crimson Business Ltd. 2007

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