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Act to discourage laziness

I BROADLY agree with the sentiments expressed by lecturers' union leader Paul Mackney (FE Focus, October 27). However, I really don't think that it is fair just to blame employers for the lack of work-based training for the least-qualified, including those with poor basic skills.

If we are to truly bridge the skills gap, then we must target learning in the workplace. Mr Mackney says that the demand for learning is not there. Our latest research shows that the demand is there - 29 per cent of adults in our most recent poll stated that they want to improve their skills, often in using a computer, but do not necessarily want to do so by joining a course.

So the workplace would be ideal for many of the people most in need of basic skills help, particularly as they may not have access to a computer in their home.

But i opportunities in the workplace are to develop, employers will need access to funding and advice and support about how to set up the right kind of opportunities. It's not the laziness of employers that stands in the way of progress but the problems that small and medium-size companies face in release for employees and the funds needed to provide opportunities.

Some successful pilot programmes have already been run in different parts of the country. These show that when the costs of employees' time away from work is covered so that they can take up opportunities, take-up and achievement rates are high.

So let's discourage laziness by making the resources available to translate need into reality for many of the seven million people with poor basic skills.

Alan Wells


Basic Skills Agency

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