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CBI: LSC should listen to business


CBI chief Digby Jones urged the Learning and Skills Council (LSC)on Friday to step up efforts to understand business needs. “If the Learning and Skills Council is serious about engaging business it needs to listen to what businesses wants and help them to achieve it” he said.

Speaking at a joint CBI/LSC event in Letchworth, Hertfordshire, Digby Jones told 100 business leaders: “Employers want the new Learning and Skills Council to succeed. It is pivotal to the UK’s competitiveness and vital to tackling social exclusion. But it cannot achieve all its objectives on its own.

“The council must listen to what business wants. It’s not just about having a certain number of business representatives sitting on local councils. I mean really listening to what business people want and helping them to achieve it.”

The CBI, which has members on local Learning and Skills Councils in every region, has identified three main areas that need attention.

  • Tackling the UK’s basic skills problem – one in five adults of working age is functionally illiterate and innumerate.
  • Raising attainment to level two – almost a third of the workforce lack the equivalent of five good GCSEs.
  • Encouraging smaller firms, particularly those with less than 50 employees, to recognise the value of increasing the skills of their workforce.

Digby Jones explained: “Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) employ more than half of the UK workforce and account for over half of all turnover. If we are going to address our skills deficit we need to get SMEs on board. What they want is a one-stop shop where they can get high quality, impartial advice and guidance, not just about training but about a whole range of issues. The Small Business Service (SBS) and the LSC needs to lead on this. They could start by increasing take-up of Investors in People (IiP) among smaller organisations.

“IiP relates to every one of the objectives set down by the LSC and it is one tool guaranteed to increase employers’ engagement in workforce development. Currently there are no IiP targets beyond 2002. IiP should be at the heart of the LSCs strategy and the LSC should start by setting targets that are stretching and which go beyond 2002.”

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