Bannatyne takes the pledge on skills drive

LEISURE tycoon and Dragon’s Den star Duncan Bannatyne has put his weight behind a new initiative to improve the skills of the workforce and make the nation more profitable.

LEISURE tycoon and Dragon’s Den star Duncan Bannatyne has put his weight behind a new initiative to improve the skills of the workforce and make the nation more profitable.

The chairman of Darlington-based gym, hotel and bar company Bannatyne Group signed the ‘Skills Pledge’, a Government initiative aimed at encouraging employers to train their staff. He pledged to increase the number of his 2,500 staff who have at least an NVQ Level 2 qualification.

He said: “My businesses have been built on delivering members and customers a top quality service which is wholly reliant on the quality and skills of our employees. We have always encouraged staff development and signing the Skills Pledge reaffirms Bannatyne’s commit-ment to investing in our people to improve our businesses.”

The initiative is being driven by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) North-East and supported by the CBI and the North East Chamber of Commerce, aimed at encouraging employers to train their workforce.

Sarah Green, regional director of the CBI, said: “Duncan Bannatyne is a successful businessman with a high national profile and his endorsement of the Skills Pledge is testament to the drive to increase the skills levels of the workforce in the UK, but more specifically in the North-East, where his business empire was founded and he continues to live.”

Chris Roberts, regional director, LSC North-East, said: “Employers don’t come more successful than Duncan Bannatyne and his commitment to the Skills Pledge reinforces the importance of continual workforce development in maintaining a competitive edge.

“More and more employers are realising the sound sense and commercial advantage of improving the skills of their workforce. In the North-East alone, more than 3,000 employers have benefited from the Train to Gain skills service, which helps businesses get the training they need. Businesses may struggle to identify their skills needs. A key component of Train to Gain is a highly successful brokerage service which offers free, impartial advice and helps find the best training to meet businesses’ needs.

“Through signing the Skills Pledge, employers receive broker support to help grow their business and develop their employees with the help of Train to Gain. There is no need for employers in this region to get left behind.”

The Skills Pledge, which was launched nationally by Prime Minister Gordon Brown in the summer, had a simultaneous regional launch at Nissan Sunderland, attended by executives of the LSC North-East, CBI, TUC, North East Chamber of Commerce, One NorthEast and a number of major employers.

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