Regulatory approach to training opposed by CBI

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More large firms should share their resources & expertise with smaller and medium ones

The CBI last week warned against government plans for wholesale extension of training levies or license to practice schemes which it said would hinder employer investment in staff training and do nothing to increase productive skills levels.

Levy systems operate by charging employers in certain sectors a specified proportion of their wage bill, which is then pooled and used to fund training grants within those respective sectors. Licences to practice require employees to be trained to a certain level before they obtain a professional licence to operate. In a new report on training investment, employers said a voluntary approach would be the best way to build on the strong business commitment to training and boost skills levels. Businesses already invest £39bn each year on training, with european data showing that 90% of UK employers provide training, well above the EU average of 60%. A proportion of this investment is on remedial literacy and numeracy training to make up for the shortfalls of the education system.

The CBI accepts licence to practice schemes may be required in certain sectors where there are health and safety concerns, but there is no evidence to suggest a wholesale extension of regulatory schemes would lead to higher skills. Instead, the CBI is proposing a voluntary approach based on:

  • Larger companies opening up their resources and expertise to smaller firms within the sector;
  • Sharing of resources between smaller and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the same geographic area to drive efficiency; and
  • Universities and further education colleges focusing on tailor made courses to up-skill junior and middle managers through greater use of unitised learning and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programmes using Investors in People as a people development tool

Susan Anderson, CBI director for education & skills, said: “The onus is on the private sector to drive the economic recovery through growth and job creation, and businesses recognise investment in training now will be crucial to this. “Employers already invest heavily in training for their staff and they recognise their crucial role in supporting sustainable growth by improving the skills of future generations.

“But employers are clear that a regulatory approach, including the extension of levies and license to practice schemes would actually hinder investment in training.”Anderson continued: “Regulation is not the answer to improving skills. Instead we should adopt a voluntary approach. “We would like to see more large firms sharing resources and expertise with smaller and medium sized companies.”