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‘Statutory learning reps go against better regulation’ says EEF


Plans to introduce statutory rights for learning representatives in the workplace are a direct breach of the principle of ‘better regulation’, according to the Engineering Employers’ Federation (EEF). The principles of ‘better regulation’, as set out by the Government’s own Better Regulation Task Force, emphasise that regulation should only be used where there is no alternative. In contrast, the EEF points to the highly successful voluntary arrangements to promote staff development already in place in many companies.

In a response to the Government consultation paper, ‘Providing Statutory Rights for Learning Representatives’ the EEF has strongly supported the issue of high-quality learning, which adds value to both the company and the individual. However, whilst employee representatives have a very positive role in encouraging training and learning amongst the workforce, this success has been entirely dependent on voluntary partnerships and co-operation between employers, employees and their representatives.

The EEF believes imposition of statutory learning representatives will be a further burden on business, will undermine existing voluntary relationships and encourage confrontation.

In addition, the EEF has argued that should the Government persist in introducing such rights, it should exempt those organisations that have already obtained IiP status. These companies have already demonstrated their commitment to training and developing their workforce and, by allowing exemption, the Government would be sending a strong message that it is listening to the calls from business for a ‘lighter touch’ in areas of regulation.

EEF Head of Education and Training Affairs, Ann Bailey, said, “Under the current voluntary arrangements, union learning representatives, in partnership with employers, are already playing a valuable role in promoting skills and a learning culture in the workforce. By introducing yet more unnecessary regulation into the workplace, the Government is threatening to undermine the very effective partnerships that already exist between employers and union representatives.”

2 Responses

  1. But they might help solve the skills gap!
    Quite right Joe!
    Comparisons between engineering productivity in the UK and the other G8 nations, apart from the notable exception of a small number of organisations, hardly lend themselves to the view that all is well with training in the UK engineering industry. It’s hard to see what is wrong with a bit more dialogue about training and learning at the workplace. We have a lot of catching up to do and it’s good to see that the trade unions and employee representatives are taking some responsibility for the development of their members. ITOL is very much in favour of anything that improves the skills base of the UK population and we warmly welcome the increased activity of learning representatives.

    Jeffrey Brooks
    Institute of Training and Occupational Learning.

  2. Same old story!
    Ho hum. Same old arguments and knee jerk reaction. I seem to remember exactly the same things were said about the introduction of safety reps years ago. (not to mention the millions of jobs lost if we had a minimum wage!)What is now shown today is that workplace with union safety reps are safer places than non-union workplaces. Learner reps have shown they can assist in increasing training activity – something the UK needs if we are to improve our competitive performance. Of course many employers are fully committed to training and the proposed legislation will not effect them in practice as they are probably already encouraging these activities.Learner reps have the potential to raise the issue of training in the not so good companies and get training onto the company agenda. That is what happened with safety reps but they needed legislative support to make it happen.

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