So, OK, it all started a little tongue in cheek with our April Fools Day story on TrainingZONE titled Government to pay you extra to learn, when we reported that “at the HRD 2001 Conference, a senior goverment minister will announce a new programme which actually PAYS you and your staff to become involved in training and learning. The government is so concerned about the skills shortage that it is bringing forward proposals originally contained in the March 7 Budget but which attracted little attention at the time.”
Shortly afterwards, Lifelong Learning Minister Malcolm Wicks and Education Minister Margaret Hodge announced plans to give ‘financial rewards’ to those who complete basic skills training.
We were amused, although not distinctly surprised, that our stories were not only hitting the mark but a little ahead of government announcements. (see TrainingZONE influencing government, or art imitating life – you choose!)
Our latest urges for action by the government is far more wide reaching in scope however, and it would appear that Ministers are listening. The editorial comment of our regular members newswire, HR Briefing, of 29th March said,
Maybe I’m being over simplistic, but the DfEE appears to concentrate on education, education, education. Meanwhile more employment legislation, regulation and guidance comes from the DTI, DSS, Inland Revenue, ACAS, EOC, Disability Rights Commission, Commission for Racial Equality, the Cabinet Office, the Lord Chancellor’s Office and others.
I suspect that a government employment department that could really co-ordinate activity, legislation, guidance and most of all communication and resources could do much to quell the cries of “Red Tape”.
In an article in the Guardian today, Lady Jay, Leader of the House of Lords and Minister for Women is reported to have confirmed that a re-elected Labour government will ensure a root and branch re-organisation of government departments by Tony Blair which would see a new Working Age Ministry encompassing work currently performed by the DTI, the DSS, the Women’s Unit of the Cabinet Office and perhaps particularly controversially the DfEE.
The re-organisation is not expected to be highlighted by the Labour party during the election period.
HR Zone would welcome a Working Age Ministry which concentrates on issues of employee rights that are “fair” to all, flexible working, anti-discriminatory support, real efforts on equality in pay, maternity and paternity rights and support for developing good and fair management practice. “Red Tape” whilst undeniably seen as a current issue, needs putting into international perspective and balanced against an international comparison on employee rights. A Working Age Ministry should highlight competitive, cost-effective and efficient “Human” management.