Provide young people with portable skills

Chris Jones discusses how workplace training initiatives need to be suited to today’s employment trends

08 October 2012 / Be the first to comment

I watched with interest last month as the first successful employer bids were announced as part of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills ‘Employer Ownership Pilot’. This sentiment was echoed at the Labour party conference this week, as their commitment to empowering employers to deliver more training was announced. Whilst I wholeheartedly support the Government’s efforts to hand control back to employers to develop training that is appropriate to them, it strikes me as alarmingly short-sighted – for both businesses and learners – that there is no stipulation that this funding must be used for training that provides learners with formal recognition of achieving set outcomes, providing a viable means of progression.

Workplace training is by its very nature specific to individual businesses and is an essential means for employees to progress within their chosen career, so employers should be given more say in how it is designed and delivered. However, gone are the days when an employee stays with one company for the course of their career so it is wrong that such a high level of investment – £250 million over the next two years – will go towards giving employees a ‘learning experience’ in one company, instead of the kind of vocational training that provides recognition of competence for the individual, enabling them move up in their chosen career or progress through to higher education in the longer term.

In an increasingly fluid job market with high levels of youth unemployment the value of providing employees with externally recognised and portable skills should not be underestimated. This system provides the flexibility for employers, working with others, to accredit bite-sized learning and well-designed programmes that validate what the individual has learned and furnish them with transferable skills. If the ‘Employer Ownership Pilot’ is to provide real, tangible benefits to the economy, businesses, and learners, then it must prioritise this type of accredited learning.

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