By Charlie Mayfield, UKCES Chairman
At the UK Commission for Employment and Skills we have a driving ambition to encourage more and better investment in the skills and employment opportunities for people in the UK. This goal is key to developing our global competitiveness and to providing good jobs. To achieve it employers must be in the driving seat with government creating the right incentives both for businesses and for agile and responsive providers of training and development.
In December 2011, the Commission outlined its vision for employer ownership of skills and four bold propositions that would set us on the right path. Over the past year we have seen good progress. In particular we have been struck by the level of ambition that has emerged where businesses have been freed up to rethink how investing in people can better support growth. Forward thinking employers have stepped up taking the opportunity to lead new activities to improve skills and employment in their sectors, supply chains and localities.
Through the Employer Ownership of Skills Pilot the Government will invest £90 million alongside £115 million of private investment in employer led skills solutions that meet industry requirements and provide people with opportunities to develop successful careers. This is in addition to £215 million co-invested in employer-led solutions through the Growth and Innovation Fund (GIF) and Employer Investment Fund (EIF). In doing so employers have come together with employees and colleges to test new models for providing their industry with the talents needed for sustainable jobs and growth.
However, employer ownership was piloted for a reason. A large part of the purpose was to inform the next steps and we now want to accelerate and extend the potential we have seen exists. This is all the more important in an economy where, despite near term challenges, the imperative must be to create the conditions for sustained recovery. We want to scale up the initial pilots so that skills investment becomes part of the heartbeat of business.
That requires direct incentives that are simpler for even the smallest businesses to access, but place on that business the responsibility for making the investment successful. It requires industrial partnerships that rise to the challenge of setting out what they need to improve global competitiveness. It requires encouragement for employers to collaborate with colleges and training providers.
The progress made since December 2011 has convinced us that these steps are entirely possible.
They will certainly be challenging for us all; employers, government, colleges and unions. But anything less
will fail to engage businesses in achieving the level of change we need to see. On the other hand the opportunity is worth it. More than that, it’s essential to creating the pipeline of talented people that we need
to achieve the potential of our economy in a fast changing global market.
Charlie Mayfield, UK Commission Chairman - March 2013