Role of UK Government in Training

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Abstract

Governments play a very important role in the development of the members of society’s level of competence. In the past, the UK government has taken several steps to bridge the gap between the skill levels, but these steps have been poorly combined.

Introduction

Employee skills development is one of the most important steps that businesses take to safeguard their long-term future. On the macro level, however, the associations are not the only bodies responsible for delivering the preparation. Government must also play its part in the development of programs and schemes that help society as a whole to benefit from them. On welfare grounds, these schemes are mostly targeted at the youths of the country so that when they enter the job market, their skill levels must match with those in demand. If the skill mismatches occur, there are very strong chances of the unemployment and social unrest.

It is within the context of improving the competence of the members of the society and employees of the organisations in the context that this report will look into some theoretical as well as practical aspects related with the role of government in training with special emphasis on UK government and steps it had taken over the period of time to balance the skill shortages and mismatches. Various schemes will be explored in this report besides looking into the initiatives taken by the Government and the private sector employers to bring in the culture of training and development within the UK society.

Role of UK Government in Training

Role of Government in Training

This section of the report will deal with the issue within the context of the British government perspectives for the training and the role of government in it. The theory of the role of government in the training of the individuals primarily rest on the education provided in the schools and collages and universities by the government. (Dolton, 1993). It has therefore been greatly emphasised that the role of government should be greater as if schools and collages fail to impart on the necessary training to the youth in the society, it will create not only unemployment but government has to bear some social cost too. It is because of that the context within which the governments impart the training is of great importance. However especially the recent initiatives by the governments to start State sponsored training schemes are also debates as to whether they fulfil the same contextual role under which they are being initiated specially their ability to curb the unemployment in the youth.

When we discuss about training, the available literature suggest that the training is an investment in human capital therefore its incidence should be targeted and focused on those to whom the benefits can be transferred in best way. It is because of this fact that the contextual significance of the role of government in providing training is critical since governments do it from the social perspective as apart from the economic perspective, it also allows the government to reduce the social and economic costs by using successful training and development for the people of the country.

Life-long schooling is seen as crucial in training workers to compete in the global economy. It is because of the lifelong training and development that the social cohesion of society increases and the skill of the members of the society improves society to act well as Society members. While defining the life long learning and education, we can simply put this in this way that the life learning and education is “the deliberate, focused learning does and should occur throughout a person’s lifetime” (Kiley&Cannon, 2000).

Historically there was a general trend of the self development within the persons and it was believed that the persons are responsible for their own self development however the trend seem to be changing now as the self development has transformed itself into continuous development now.

“The CD theory as it arose is basically a commentary on how business and management developed naturally … particularly over the last twelve years: from stability to dynamism, from descriptions to descriptions objectives, from systemisation to creativity, from management command to participative decision, from teaching to learning.  To summarise, from training alongside work to learning within it.”(Wood, 1988).

The process of continuous development and life long learning are considered as two sides of the same coin as both are considered as more flexible and autonomous processes which can be extremely helpful in developing the knowledge base of the employees. Since it is now believed that the learning is continuous therefore it is imperative that the employees should be continuously developing themselves either through the help of their organisations or by enrolling into government financed schemes to continuously improve their skill level. The growing emphasis on the life long learning is also placed because of the fact that this process allow individuals to not only plan and assess their own learning but are also active learners rather than the passive learners with the ability to integrate the various knowledge areas to use under different situations.

The Development of NVQ, MCI and the Competency Movement

NVQ framework established during 1986. NVQ is not considered as a course but is a work based qualification. NVQs are made up of units grouped according to the type of the work activity. NVQs are considered as the on the job training units which test the competence of the individuals while they perform their jobs. NVQs also asses the knowledge and skill level of the individual required to carry out during their jobs.

The Management Charter Initiative (MCI) was initiated with the aims of the promoting the competency and facilitate the introduction of generic management standards into the British organisations.  The MCI and the competency movement in the Britain has evolved over the period of time and attracted a strong debate on whether they are effective in their incidence or not. The development of the NVQs and the MCI was especially aimed at reducing the skill shortages in the country and as an effort to boost the competitiveness of the UK economy, these initiatives were taken to improve upon the skill level of the employees. However it is still considered that the NVQs and the MCI has failed to achieve their targets as they were not only generic in nature but also failed to carry any significant influence within the private organisations to prefer these schemes to impart on the necessary training and development of the individuals.

A Range of Contemporary Training Initiatives Introduced By the UK Government

The British government through its various bodies, in the past has undertaken substantial efforts to bridge the gap between the existing skill levels of the work force and what is required from them. This suggest that the widespread measures must have been taken by the government in this direction in order to increase the competitiveness of the British economy in the global markets which are fast titling towards high skilled low cost economies in order to derive the competitive benefits over their competitors. In the 21st Century Britain, the first serious effort to undertake a study to explore the skill shortages in United Kingdom was undertaken when in Pre-Budget report of 2004, it was announced that the Lord Leitch will undertake a review. The mandate of this review was to undertake to identify the optimal mix for the UK labor force in 2020. (unionlearn).

British government and private employers have initiated many important programs to meet the challenges of skill shortages. This essay will look into the measures take by the government as well private employers in ensuring that they meet the skill shortages requirements over the past 10 years.

The British government through its various bodies, in the past has undertaken substantial efforts to bridge the gap between the existing skill levels of the work force and what is required from them. This suggest that the widespread measures must have been taken by the government in this direction in order to increase the competitiveness of the British economy in the global markets which are fast titling towards high skilled low cost economies in order to derive the competitive benefits over their competitors. In the 21st Century Britain, the first serious effort to undertake a study to explore the skill shortages in United Kingdom was undertaken when in Pre-Budget report of 2004, it was announced that the Lord Leitch will undertake a review. The mandate of this review was to undertake to identify the optimal mix for the UK labor force in 2020. (unionlearn).

Over the period of time, British government has developed a range of initiatives aimed at improving the skill level of the labor force. These initiatives were mostly directed at initiating educational at full time levels directed specially to those with low skills and were intended to raise achievement levels and improve upon the supply side of the education. These initiatives were supposed to achieve following:

  • Improve upon the ability of the education system to cope with the change.
  • Improve the skill levels of the employees to match the same with those required to be more competitive.

Government of Britain focused its attention on various strands of the education and training. (Sidnnick, 2004) These strands are:

  1. General education which is mostly related with learning common subjects like math, English etc.
  2. General Vocational Training which is intended to provide training not for obtaining any occupation but to learn wider industry related learning.
  3. Vocational Training is about learning and applying skills and knowledge in work and is about the development of competence in the students as well as workforce.

In order to develop these educational strands, British Government started Train to Gain Program which offered free training to the employees in England without the requirements of the any formal school education obtained by the employees. Besides the iniative taken by the network of Social Skills is now offering opportunity to the employers and trade unions to develop programs to develop sectoral competencies of their respective labor force.  However there is also an element of unacceptability from the side of employers who are imparting training to its employees. This unacceptability is coming specially in the form of not accepting the older workers who may be adequately skilled but since employers have invested in training and development of their existing employees therefore they do not wish to take a bet on hiring more skilled but older workers. Further the issue of trainings is further complicated due to the fact that the private employers tend to have more inclination towards the trade unions and their interference in imparting training to the employees thus the individual employees may not get training unless the employers are forced through trade unions. However the research also suggest that the trade unions through their Union Learning Reps are increasingly involve themselves in the process of imparting training to the employees though they may not be sufficient enough to critically increase their skill levels to a point where it can be beneficial to the employees in their occupation.

Various research studies have demonstrated that one of the biggest barriers to training in the workplace is the limited access to paid time off to train during working time, especially for adult employees with few or no qualifications. This barrier is particularly acute for women who are more likely to strike a balance between work and care. In recognition of the time barrier, the government launched the Employer Training Pilots (ETP) offering a range of incentives for employers to provide paid time off for employees to achieve basic skills and NVQ Level 2 qualifications.  These pilots proved to be very popular with employers and employees and led to the development of the national Train to Gain programme that is currently being rolled out across England. However, there are limits to what a voluntary programme like this can achieve, especially as the evaluation of the pilots showed that many employers who were averse to training their staff declined to participate even though the pilots offered free training delivered on site along with free advisers to help employers select the most appropriate training and provider. The key question is what Government can do to put pressure on employers to participate in Train to Gain and to open up more training opportunities for their staff.  One simple measure would be to give adult employees without a Level 2 qualification a statutory right to paid time off to achieve such a qualification (a right currently enjoyed by 16-17-year-olds).  This right would incentivize all employers to access the state subsidised training available under Train to Gain.  Therefore, all Industry Skills Agreements will look at how different provisions for paid time off to train in their particular sector could be taken forward.

Initiatives Selected for First Service Limited

The first line managers are considered as the people largely responsible for the execution of the actual work taking place in the organisations whether the service oriented organisations or manufacturing concerns. The training needs of these persons are peculiar in nature therefore there is a very strong need to have very customized training programmes for them to fulfil their requirements. The inclusion of the mass level generic training to the first line managers may not serve the exact purpose of the organisation. We believe that the Employer Training Pilots or ETPs can serve the purpose of the organisation since the employees may find it difficult to take their time off from their jobs to carry out trainings especially if they are unpaid. There is also another benefit for that because its scope will be broadens since the inclusion of larger number of employees specially women first line managers. This will not only provide them an opportunity to broaden their education level but also provide them more choices in their career to look for more highly paying jobs hence increase their work profile as well as earning potential which might have been otherwise restricted due to limiting or shortage of the skill level in the employees.

Conclusion

The commitment of the government to the provision of the necessary training through a solid education system is very important not only in order to meet the skill shortages but also in order to increase the general level of skills employees besides offering the youth a chance to adapt to the new skills and technologies to better place their careers. Over the period of time, UK government has taken some serious actions with somewhat mixed results as the schemes initiated by it were not that much effective in their approach to bring in more training and developed which is targeted in nature and well focused on the employees and organisational needs.

References
  • Dolton, Peter J. 1993.’ The relationship among reported disclosure of sexual orientation, anti -The Economics of Youth Training in Britain’, The Economic Journal, Vol.103, no.420, pp 1261-1278
  • Kiley, Margret, Cannon, Robert, 2000, ‘Leap into life long learning’ Center for Learning and Professional Development, accessed March 9, 2008 from http://www.adelaide.edu.au/clpd/resources/leap/leapinto/LifelongLearning.pdf.
  • Sidnnick, L. 2004. ‘Skills in Task force Survey’. British Chamber of Commerce .
  • Supan, A. B. 1998. ‘Capital’s contribution to Productivity and the Nature of Competition’. Microeconomics , 205-248.
  • (n.d.). 2020 vision for skills. Retrieved March 9, 2008, from unionlearn.com: http://www.unionlearn.org.uk/extrasUL/reports/2020VISION_SKILLS.doc.
  • Wood, S ,1988’Continous development; the path to improved performance’ IPM, retrieved March 10, 2008 from http://www.speedyadverts.com/SATopics/html/management.html

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