Invest in skills and prosper

20th June 2003 at 01:00
Flexible training provision is the key to the British economy maintaining its competitive dege, writes Digby Jones

When I travel up and down the country, listening to businesses of all sectors and sizes they tell me just how important flexible training provision is in their drive to improve the skills of their employees.

The twin challenges of global competition and technology-based structural change mean that a company's success depends more than ever on having employees with the right skills. The abilities to communicate, solve problems and work in teams are becoming ever more important.

UK employers are committed to training and development, investing pound;23.5bn of their own money in one year. Almost all employers provide their staff with job-related training. But there are still too many adults with low skills, particularly poor literacy and numeracy. One in five does not have the reading skills expected of an 11-year-old.

While many employers have to remedy low basic skills in their employees (suffering hits to productivity on the way), the problem has yet to be solved in our education system. It's great that people who haven't been involved in learning since school have now started to develop their skills.

Learndirect has been particularly good in attracting these traditional "non-learners" to e-learning courses. People can learn in their own time in the privacy of their home and not have to admit to their colleagues that they're doing basic skills training.

UfI\learndirect has made encouraging progress - almost 500,000 learners are involved, more than half new to learning. Learndirect has already become a well-recognised brand. The next challenge is to become a provider of flexible training for business.

One example of a firm that is already involved is Weetabix. The basic skills courses on offer persuaded Weetabix to use learndirect in their new resource centre, but the company extended this to include IT and management courses as well. Weetabix and its employees value on-site learning. Morale has improved among shopfloor workers and some have taken supervisory courses to help them progress to management positions.

I hope this flexible learning approach will flourish and become the norm.

UfI's new premier business centres have the potential to develop quality tailored learning programmes to enable employers to get the best out of their employees. The future of the UK economy depends on employers and employees working together to raise skills and the UfI is well placed to help make that happen.

Digby Jones is director-general of the Confederation of British Industry

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now