Headlines: November 13th, 2009

The Government is being urged to make better use of the money it spends on adult training. The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education says the focus should be on individual needs rather than the needs of business. It was responding to Skills Strategy outlined by Lord Mandelson.

The Business Secretary told members of the House of Lords that the strategy was a radical shift in priorities and said: “Higher level skills have never been more important to our growth.” The aim was a skills system defined not just by targets based on achieved qualifications, but by ‘real world’ outcomes.

Alastair Thomson, the principal advocacy officer at the National Institute, said the new strategy was strong on meeting employers’ needs but the Government’s statutory duty was to meet the reasonable needs of individuals, not businesses. The primary responsibility to increase skills in the workplace rested with business, he said and added: “Despite the achievements of the Skills for Life strategy, there are millions of people, including those most in need, who haven’t yet been helped.”

NIACE welcomed the continuing commitment to basic skills but said it wanted to ensure there was a full ladder of progression. Adults, particularly at entry level, needed more, not less, funding it said.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said there were provisions in the strategy for individual training accounts, which would enable people to shop around for training, backed by good information on how courses and colleges could meet their needs.