Letters - Skills red tape

6th February 2009 at 00:00

I read with interest your leading article ("Now is the time for re- skilling, not upskilling, FE Focus, January 16) on the cross-party innovation, universities, science and skills select committee's recent findings on the UK's training system.

From our perspective as a company delivering the Government's skills agenda, it is true that the training and skills provision is far too complex for its own good. There is a crying need for simplification, continuity and an end to burdensome bureaucracy in order to really engage with employers and their workforce.

It is therefore more important than ever that the forthcoming transition from the Learning and Skills Council to the Skills Funding Agency and local authorities is as smooth and seamless as possible.

To illustrate the problem, a principle that is followed and works in the service industry is "make it easy for the customer to buy". But this is far from the case when it comes to helping employers "buy into" the skills agenda. Making such important provision - which will help the country's economy in the long term - too complex and incomprehensible is not big and is not clever. Keep it simple.

In addition to this, strategies and plans need to be much more long term. While plans have to be flexible in the light of economic circumstances, they must remain within an overall long-term strategy. Employers have other priorities without having to contend with the vagaries and changes in government policy and the practices of its skills and training agenda.

I would argue that both upskilling and re-skilling of redundant workers are critical for the economic good of the nation, but such training must be planned and acted on in a consistent, thoughtful and clear manner - and this is something on which the Government must take the lead.

John Herman, Intec Business Colleges.

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