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Skills CFA

Instructus Conference Cancellation and the Skills Agenda

Tuesday, 27 October 2015
By: Skills CFA

Instructus is disappointed to announce the cancellation of its proposed conference ‘Revolution in Business and Skills’ due to take place on November 25th due to a lack of employer interest. Instructus has for many years successfully held conferences for training providers, but on this occasion, due to the prevailing policy of a demand, i.e. employer- led skills agenda the focus changed. A number of role model employers representing the spectrum of industry were preparing to demonstrate in practical terms how investment in employee skills development had been good for their award winning businesses, both large and small. This was intended to provide a tool-kit for addressing respective skills gaps. Ironically a key element of the conference was to have been the unveiling of a survey of UK CEOs attitudes to skills shortages and employee development. The results were concerning with an overarching view expressed that skills development was somebody else’s problem, (over 80%) that is in those cases where a skills issue was even recognised as significant. This surely represents a disengagement from the prevailing skills agenda that needs to be addressed and it will be interesting to see the reaction of these same companies to the forthcoming training levy, or ‘apprenticeship tax’ as some have dubbed it, which is designed to ‘drive up quality by putting employers in the driving seat’.

At the same time that this conflict was being displayed the Ofsted Chief Inspector was targeting FE colleges as failing youngsters by equipping them with dubious qualifications of little economic relevance whilst further stating that the apprenticeship system is wasting public money. This seems to miss the point that current frameworks are being designed by employers and the new Standard system is based upon having more employer demand built into it than hitherto. Government funding policy is supporting this process and in terms of economic value those Apprenticeships with higher economic value will receive more funding. Clearly this is a further evidence of a disconnect being evidenced as employers’ attitudes again seem to be polarised.

Instructus also take issue with all vocational educational providers being tarred with the same brush although we recognise deficiencies and support the need for continuous improvement in all areas. We can clearly demonstrate significant employer engagement and success as a direct result of our own interventions which through delivering skills, develop people and drive business performance improvement. We have many case study examples of this with accompanying employer testimonials which don’t sound like failure to us!

Instructus is both a UK standard setting and QA authority with a significant training provision in its armoury. It has the largest footprint of occupations and range of industries through its specialisation in generic, (i.e. pan sector) skills. We currently have over 70,000 apprenticeships in progress all of which have been developed with significant employer support and we regularly update these along with associated qualifications in accordance with best practice. There is little evidence to the contrary within this portfolio although it is clear from recent public pronouncement that a wider spirit of co-operation is required for the benefits of skills policy aspiration to be more widely implanted in the vocational value chain.

David Holland
CEO Instructus Group


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