UK skills in the news

A plethora of recent conferences has made the UK skills base news recently. Last week a front page story on the Guardian reported the horror of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) at the state of the nation’s skills. The story was continued inside … on the business pages.

I cannot remember ever having seen so many people banging the skills drum, nor so much ministerial commenting and involvement from the recently formed DIUS (see previous entry).

Of course there are those who say we should be afraid when the government gets involved in workplace training. Indeed, when I asked readers recently on the Learning Technologies blog what they wanted Gordon Brown to do, the answer was uniform: ‘to stay out of our business!’ 

This caution is understandable given previous disastrous government interventions such as UKeU and the Individual Learning Accounts. Recently, though, DUIS head John Denham came up with what looks like a decent idea.

In an address to the CBI, Mr Denham said this:

The Government today announced plans for accrediting the in-house training schemes of major companies, so that they lead to recognised qualifications….

Formal recognition and credit will be given to employers who carry out ‘good’ training. As a result individuals will know that the qualification they are working towards will be more widely recognised.

This could amount to tedious bureaucracy, but to me it seems more like a well thought-out scheme. Instead of asking employers to qualify their people according to external standards that have no particular relevance to them, the government is asking them to prove that the training they already do – aimed at building internal capability – is high quality and effective.

If the government can implement this without the slipshod approach to quality control that characterised the woeful individual learning account programme, while drawing on existing experience and expertise (unlike the UK eUniversity, which tried to re-invent e-learning from scratch), there’s a chance it will work.

 The devil, as always, is in the detail.

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