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City & Guilds and ILM comment on Leitch Review
City & Guilds and the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) have welcomed the principles behind the Leitch Review into skills training and the emphasis placed on improving the UK's skills base.
Commenting on the recommendations that were published this week, Chris Humphries CBE, director-general of City & Guilds said: "We are delighted that the skills agenda has been given the prominence it deserves and that there is greater focus on a more employer and employment demand-led system as well as on generating a more efficient educational and training market. For too long, the UK has not fully understood the importance and need to raise its skills base and, without action, could ultimately pay a high price by sliding down the global productivity league.
"Leitch has grasped the urgency of this issue and the implications of UK employers having to compete with the best in a global marketplace. His report confirms that a policy of 'more of the same' is not a viable option. We were pleased to see, in his final review, references to several recommendations put forward by City & Guilds in its 2006 report 'Skills in a Global Economy' including tripartite responsibility for funding, information, advice and guidance, and individual learning accounts.
"We support his approach in fully involving employers in setting out their needs and those of future employees in the industry and also in encouraging employers and individuals to take a shared responsibility with government in contributing to the costs of higher level skills, commensurate with their return. Sector skills councils have a big role to play in this agenda but need to make their vision work and further improve their links and engagement with industries and key employers in their sector.
"Apprenticeships have been given significant prominence in Leitch's review and this is welcomed. The apprenticeship route should be a gold standard for those engaged in work-based training with proper underpinning knowledge and the chance to demonstrate skills learnt in a practical environment. It is of concern that there are many less employer places available in some sectors than the number of young people wanting to sign up for apprenticeships. We support an approach which encompasses greater flexibility whilst meeting the specific needs of individual industries, based on overall simplicity and fitness for purpose.
"Leitch acknowledges that the profound transformation taking place worldwide highlights the need for regularly upskilling and developing all staff to keep pace with those changes and enable UK employers to compete effectively in the global marketplace. With skills levels increasing for all jobs, and where technology and competition reduce the currency and relevance of existing skill sets, it is important to support the re-skilling and up-skilling of adults facing industrial and occupational change. Failure to do this may reduce the mobility of the labour force in some cases and suppress the overall level of skills acquisition. Current policies prioritising level 2 & 3 provision are right for now but Leitch highlights how essential it is that we raise our sights in the next 15 years to produce many more people skilled at levels 4, 5 and above."
Kim Parish, chief executive of the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM), said: "The Institute of Leadership & Management warmly welcomes the priority given to intermediate and higher level skills development in the Leitch report.
"For too long the UK skills agenda has focused exclusively on lower level skills building at the expense of the managerial, leadership and enterprise capabilities required to compete in the global market place. Shifting the intermediate skills goals from L2 to L3 is a step in the right direction. In achieving this goal Leitch sets out the important role that the new Specialised Diplomas will play and new targets for Apprenticeships, but we also need to do more to include, and focus on, those adults without a L3 qualification.
"As Leitch acknowledges it is the higher level skills which drive growth, facilitate innovation and are crucial in achieving world class management and leadership. Whilst it is great we have a challenging target for adults qualified to level 4 it is disappointing that a Level 5 target was not set. We support the emphasis on involving employers more fully in the skills agenda. As Leitch recognises this doesn't mean responding in the same way to all employers as they inevitably face different challenges.
"Leitch highlights that a greater proportion of UK managers hold low-level qualifications compared with those in other higher level occupations, with 41 per cent of managers holding less than a Level 2 qualification. Clearly something needs to be done. Improving management and leadership is a key objective for the majority of businesses. Already management and leadership has been highlighted as a critical skill need in nearly all Sector Qualification Strategies.
"The recognition that improved management capability cannot just be achieved through the current model of HE but from workforce development goes a long way to recognising the valuable contribution that many learning providers and employers already make to the high level skills agenda. Higher level management and leadership skills is not just about MBAs but development programmes in industry that deliver learning and organisational performance in bite-sized chunks focusing on real problems and not case studies. Professional organisations like the Institute of Leadership & Management have a pivotal role in encouraging continuous professional development to drive up the quality of management."
Chris Humphries continued: "There is rightly a desire to focus public resources where most impact will be felt and to include as many as possible within the world of work. We fully support the imperative to agree national principles around tripartite responsibility for lifelong education and training between the state, employers and the individual, and recognise that this must be part of any long-term solution to the pressure on limited public resources.
"We are delighted to see strong recognition of the need for appropriate information, advice and guidance. With a potentially expanding offer of unit-based qualifications, a greater complexity of job role and the development of many technological skills areas, it is critical that an appropriate infrastructure is provided to support all learners including adults. It is important that information, advice and guidance is of value to and is valued by the users and this is only likely to happen if the advice provided can be seen to come from an independent source and be impartial in nature.
"The Leitch review is an excellent blueprint for change but the challenge lies in the detail. There is a long way to go to ensure that the UK competes with the best on a global basis. We must act now in order to ensure that we do not continue to lag behind the productivity rates of other developing countries. Being mediocre is not an option and we must raise our game. And we will only do this if we act upon these recommendations now."
The final report of the Leitch Review of Skills, 'Prosperity for all in the Global Economy: World Class Skills', is available at: http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/leitch
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