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Skills landscape needs overhaul

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Skills landscape needs overhaul

A report published by CII (Chartered Insurance
Institute)  Investing in tomorrow’s skills today – a CII
prospectus for skills
, claims that the entire skills landscape requires an
overhaul if Britain
is to continue to compete as a leading global economy.

The report calls on Government to recognise and work
better with the existing non-state skills providers like professional bodies. The
report emphasises the importance of investing in skills through an economic
downturn to ensure Britain remains competitive, particularly in areas like
insurance and financial services.

The report comes as the
Government last week launched its consultation Skills for Sustainable Growth which reflects the new administration’s
intent to shift from public to private and voluntary providers and to simplify
the notoriously complex skills system.

The CII report sets out a
seven point plan for skills:

Simplification – The new
government needs to streamline the skills system. We believe this will lead to
cost reductions and an improved, easier to engage with network.

Stable policy framework –
There needs to be an end to constant policy changes – the shifting sands help
no one. The skills agenda has to be consistent.

Long term goals –
Government, employers and skills bodies have to remain focused on long term
goals, whilst responding to some short term needs.

Professional bodies – The
new government should make better use of professional bodies. They have the
experience, expertise and employer relationships and crucially this is at no
cost to the public purse.

Education – The new
government needs to ensure that the education system provides students with a
strong grounding in the basics, such as literacy and numeracy, so that
employers can focus on developing relevant technical skills.

Careers advice – The new
government needs to implement an improved system of careers advice. Employers
and other interested organisations need to be involved far more in providing
potential recruits with quality information.

Lifelong learning –
Employers need to support all employees, not just new recruits. The ever
changing and increasingly competitive world means that firms and individuals
need to ensure they have the skills to succeed.

Chris Hanks, president of
the CII, said, “We face a critical juncture in the development of skills in the
UK. A strong skills base is the lifeblood of any economy but as the new
government and employers alike wrestle with harsh economic realities there is the
temptation to cut back on skills related spending. Yet it doesn’t have to be
that way. It’s a question of making what money there is work smarter and harder
to deliver economically valuable skills.

“The current skills system
is a tangled mess of agencies and organisations. Not only is it difficult for
employers and individuals to engage with, its bureaucracy consumes large
amounts of public money and in some cases funds activities already performed by
bodies that do not cost the exchequer a penny.

“Last week’s Skills paper
from the Government is a welcome first step in acknowledging many of the
concerns we have been expressing. However we hope these words will be followed
by deeds. The Government cannot afford to ignore the successful work of
professional bodies in developing skills of the nation – especially in sectors
like insurance where there is little or no public money but where there is
strong employer support.

“Many similar professional
bodies have a long and proven track record in developing skills that boost the
UK economy at no cost to the public purse. In these testing times this is
something that the new government should not only acknowledge but also utilize.
As a nation, we should not under estimate the importance of investing in skills
training, even during tough economic times. As the UK undergoes economic and
political change we must grasp the nettle of investing in tomorrow’s skills
today or feel the loss tomorrow.”

28 July 2010

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