The skills pledge gets underway

At yesterday’s high-profile launch of the pledge by UK Skills Czar Digby Jones, 150 employers representing 1.7 million workers signed the Skills Pledge – to ensure training to basic skill levels for all employees.

You can’t quarrel with that in principle.

But not all reaction has been positive…

The British Chambers of Commerce say the idea of the pledge is ‘unhelpful and patronising’, while Annie Hay on Training Zone suggests that the devil is in the detail.

I’ve had my doubts about the Leitch Review inspired Skills Pledge in the past – not about the principle, but about the manner of application. It could be mishandled very badly and produce some unintended side-effects.

In that respect, I reflect a general opinion, evinced in a recent CIPD/KPMG survey:

The latest quarterly CIPD/KPMG Labour Market Outlook survey finds that two thirds of UK employers believe that the Government is right to prioritise basic skills training. However, only a small majority say they are likely to make the skills ‘pledge’ – a promise to help every eligible employee to gain basic skills and a level 2 qualification – leaving a significant challenge ahead in convincing all employers that making the skills pledge will have real benefits in the workplace.

Can we make it work? I hope so, but it will take graft, a rigorous attention to detail and plenty of time.


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