According to government Skills Minister, Matthew Hancock, the UK approach to vocational training is still in need of a desperate overhaul. He argued that employers, training providers and the government must work together in order to provide more training and move to a high ‘training culture.’
Speaking at the Work Foundation conference on ‘Skills For the Future: Securing the UK’s Long Term Competitiveness’ in London, Hancock said that employers in the UK need a change in attitudes towards vocational training in order to provide a higher number of skilled workers. Instead of worrying about the fact that trained staff are more likely to be poached by other businesses, they need to view workplace training as a high-value investment that will drive performance and help retain top talent in their company. Hancock also drew parallels with Germany, where most companies assume their role is to train their staff.
“We must break out of a low training culture and make training a better, more reliable investment,” Hancock said. “We have a once in a generation chance to crack it and get vocational education to do what it’s supposed to do: give students real value training and give employers the skills they need.”
The Minister has therefore proposed ‘three Rs’ that could help fix the current skills gap in the UK and improve the quality of training throughout all working sectors. First, Hancock talked about ‘responsiveness,’ which refers to giving genuine power to employers to shape training schemes that work well for them, rather than adhering to universal frameworks. He also proposed more ‘rigour’ in terms of basic skills training and qualifications. Finally, he explained the need for a ‘revolution in training attitudes.’
“Our reforms – rigour and responsiveness – aim to break out of a low-training culture – and into one where there is a comparative advantage in training,” Hancock said. “Because if qualifications are meaningful and high-quality, we make training a better, more reliable investment, more likely to help the bottom line.”
The Minister explained that there is a growing number of young people out of work because they don’t have the skills needed by companies, while many employers can’t get the right workers. A concerted focus on high-quality training and development in large organisations will not only help to fill the widening skills gap in the UK, but it could also help reduce youth unemployment figures.