Red tape ‘stops firms bridging skills gap’

GOVERNMENT red tape is preventing employers from providing staff with skills-based qualifications, according to the CBI.

GOVERNMENT red tape is preventing employers from providing staff with skills-based qualifications, according to the CBI.

As employers across the region increasingly look for better-skilled staff, the CBI is asking the Government to make it easier for companies to train their employees.

Suzanne Anderson, the CBI director of policy, said businesses are spending £33bn a year on staff training compared to just £3bn from the Government.

After a dinner with North-East employers and politicians, Ms Anderson told The Journal the region’s economy needed a better skilled workforce in order to continue its impressive growth.

She said: “We need to make sure that the Government is focused on the right issues.

“We were told by one transport company that the average reading age among their employees was 22, and that’s from a workforce with an average age of 44.

“And what we need is more employers freed up from Government red-tape.

“We estimate that only a fifth of employer training leads to a qualification and while we will never get to a stage where 100% of staff training leads to a qualification, but 20% is far to low.

“Over the next year we want to move that substantially, making it easier to offer staff skills-based qualifications, and that is one way in which we will measure how successful we have been in tackling the skills shortage.”

Earlier this month Skills Minister John Denham launched a skills pledge urging employers to invest in staff training.

Nissan was one of the first to sign up to the scheme.

Steve Pallas, training and development manager, said Nissan was happy to support the pledge, but admitted more needed to be done. He said: “The Government’s efforts to assist companies commit to staff training should be recognised, however, a level of bureaucracy still exists that makes getting hold of essential funding a more difficult process than it should be.

“Improvements have been made in this area, but a simplification of funding streams would give companies the long-term financial visibility they need to plan ahead with employee development programmes.”

A spokesman for the Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills said the Government was committed to helping employers train their staff.

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