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Whitehall Reforms Will Push For Educated Workforce

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Gordon announces that we need a workforce to compete in the Global Economy.

As such the plan is to re educate the workforce.

Adult learning Courses will be available to all under the new plans.

1. Introduction to Carpet Weaving leading to NVQ Advanced Carpet Making Techniques

2. Introduction to Basket Weaving, leading to a Degree in Industrial Basket Design

3. Intermediate Construction of Model Cars, Aircraft, using Wire and Coca Cola Cans

4 Pottery Manufacture

5. Funeral Pyre design and implementation

6 Camel husbandry

Whitehall reforms will push for educated workforce

Brown’s government wants globally competitive skills base with emphasis on employer-led training

Lara Williams, Computing 26 Jul 2007

The government has unveiled a wide-ranging plan to equip the UK workforce with the skills to compete in a global knowledge economy.

A focus on employer-led training is central to the recommendations from the new Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS).

The proposals are a response to the Leitch Review of Skills, commissioned by Gordon Brown when he was chancellor to ensure a globally competitive UK workforce by 2020.

DIUS secretary of state John Denham says that of all the new initiatives set out in the implementation plan, the creation of a demand-led system of skills is the most fundamental reform.

‘The business case for investing in skills stands in its own right,’ he said.

‘It makes sense for government to work with employers purely for the economic benefits and improved competitiveness it will bring.’

The plan has a number of implications for the IT sector.

What are the implications for IT employers?

Denham wants to put employers at the head of the skills system. The implementation plan proposes a Commission for Employment and Skills to give employers the opportunity to influence the content and delivery of skills and employment programmes. The commission should be ready in 2008.

‘Training must be tailored to employers’ needs, delivered in ways that support their business and offer qualifications in which they have confidence,’ said Denham.

Employer involvement in skills reform began in June when the government launched a Skills Pledge giving employers access to government support through its Train to Gain scheme. The service includes an independent skills broker to assess training needs and provision and free basic literacy and numeracy training.

While the government plans to fund basic skills development, it also has committed increased funding to broader services, although employers will be expected to help fund the cost of high-level training.

Funding for Train to Gain stands at £440m in 2007/8 rising to £650m in 2008/9. And funding projections outlined in the plan reach £900m by 2010/11 or £1.3bn if the figure were to include work-based employer training programmes.

All the employer-led initiatives outlined in the plan will be delivered through reformed sector skills councils.

IT sector skills body e-Skills UK will be accountable to the Commission for Employment and Skills and will monitor the performance of the plan in the IT industry.

‘We’re responsible for making sure it works within our sector,’ said e-Skills UK head of strategy Margaret Sambell.

The groundwork for the Leitch review recommendations was started earlier this year in an initiative to professionalise the IT industry through the introduction of universally recognised IT qualifications.

e-Skills UK worked in partnership with trade association Intellect, the BCS and the National Computing Centre, as well as using input from hundreds of employers, to develop an IT profession competency model.

The aim is to create a unified framework of skills in the IT sector – from consulting and systems architecture to service delivery and security – to provide a suite of disciplines and competency levels.

e-Skills UK is also establishing dedicated IT qualifications, including a Masters degree in IT and business.

Future projects include plans for a graduate development programme through which employers can pool resources to create a new learning scheme and a qualification for IT graduates entering the workforce.

Any initiative that gives businesses more input into the content of skills and employment programmes is welcome, says Ollie Ross, director of research at blue-chip user group The Corporate IT Forum.

‘Graduates with pure IT qualifications are competing in a global skills marketplace and will increasingly struggle to find work within blue-chip organisations,’ he said.

‘Businesses are now looking for people with a high level of business acumen who understand the commercial application of IT. Businesses’ IT skills requirements must be listened to and should be acted upon.’

What are the implications for IT professionals?

The implementation plan outlines a pilot scheme for Skills Accounts, giving individuals an account number, card and credits for training which they manage themselves.

Skills Accounts will be supported by a combination of a new adult career service, Jobcentre Plus and the Learning and Skills Council.

Philip Virgo, strategic adviser to skills group the Institute for the Management of Information Systems, says personal accountability for skills development is a positive move.

‘But the scheme must be properly quality-controlled and the training must be to professional and industry standards,’ he said.

The plan must address all skill levels if it is to have value, says Virgo.

‘Continuous professional updating is not well-addressed in the implementation plan, so employers should work with their unions to ensure their workforce remains employable because that is the best way of achieving results,’ he said.

But Intellect programme manager Carrie Hartnell says the implementation plan does not go far enough because it does not tackle the need for higher-level skills.

‘There is a lack of understanding on the government’s part about the importance of technical skills in the ability to compete on a global scale,’ she said.

‘There needs to be careful consideration of basic education because the current basic standard is not sufficient to compete globally moving forward.’

The creation of 12 National Skills Academies by 2008, with the aim of at least one academy for each major sector of the economy, will go some way to addressing the higher levels.

And the training that companies offer staff in-house will be recognised and accredited through the qualifications and credit framework designed by e-Skills UK.

‘IT qualifications are out of tune with employer needs at the moment and it’s hard to see which qualifications will add value because they are quite disparate,’ said Sambell.

‘At the heart of our industry lies a lack of an appropriate qualifications framework and with this we have the ability to transform that environment.

‘Qualifications that match employer needs will bring benefits while bidding for business at home and abroad, and allow an individual to demonstrate their ability.’

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No, it doesn't sound familiar at all.

Education ≠ Training

It is the confusion between the two that has blighted our country in many ways.

Indeed, it is a rare day when someone doesn't have a grumble on this very forum that relates to the consequences.

Some history. In the 1980s industry decided it wasn't going to bother training its workforce and decided that it was going to take a free ride at the expense of the tax payer. The led in turn to attempts to integrate the demands of industry into education. Whilst at first glance this might seem logical enough, the category error identified above doomed it to failure from the outset with the result that we now have a system that features a number of useless chimera: dumbed down subjects, perceived falling standards and "mickey mouse" degrees. Misguided attempts at integrating "relevance" (ie. training) into education have displaced rigour. The rot really set in before the 1980s when the Tripartite system was implemented as a Bipartite system (ie. Technical Schools were notable by their absence) and that really marked the last time before now anyone viewed the issues of skills, training and education with any degree of clarity.

I think this is a very positive development actually, someone has evidently done some thinking for once.

I don't have a great deal of confidence that the delivery will not be botched but that is besides the point in some ways, might as well give credit where it is due.

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No, it doesn't sound familiar at all.

Education ≠ Training

It is the confusion between the two that has blighted our country in many ways.

Indeed, it is a rare day when someone doesn't have a grumble on this very forum that relates to the consequences.

Some history. In the 1980s industry decided it wasn't going to bother training its workforce and decided that it was going to take a free ride at the expense of the tax payer. The led in turn to attempts to integrate the demands of industry into education. Whilst at first glance this might seem logical enough, the category error identified above doomed it to failure from the outset with the result that we now have a system that features a number of useless chimera: dumbed down subjects, perceived falling standards and "mickey mouse" degrees. Misguided attempts at integrating "relevance" (ie. training) into education have displaced rigour. The rot really set in before the 1980s when the Tripartite system was implemented as a Bipartite system (ie. Technical Schools were notable by their absence) and that really marked the last time before now anyone viewed the issues of skills, training and education with any degree of clarity.

I think this is a very positive development actually, someone has evidently done some thinking for once.

I don't have a great deal of confidence that the delivery will not be botched but that is besides the point in some ways, might as well give credit where it is due.

I still dispute there's a knowledge economy. A book that came out in 2004 The Mismanagment of Talent is a brilliant if a little dry take on the problem of having a vast number of graduates. The problem is not merely the stereotyped 'dumbed down' graduate with doss-about degree but that ultimately, the job market isn't set up to receive and make use of such numbers of educated people. Even Medical graduates can't find suitable places and despite the love of 'hard subjects' on this forum many peers with Science/Engineering degrees wound up in low grade jobs.

The authors of the book suggest that over the next decades 75% of new jobs will be in the low-paid, low-skill sectors. With New Labour's 50% target for sending people to University you're looking at masses of graduates who simply won't find a job that matches their talents and abilities.

Personally, the best solution, I feel, is to simply tell 14-16 year olds: 'Look, the world is freaking tough. You can pass many GCSEs, A Levels and degrees and end up living in a shared bedsit.' Yeah, it might depress the hell out of some them but at least that's more honest than the, 'do a degree and you'll be laughing' which is now 20 years out of date.

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I still dispute there's a knowledge economy. A book that came out in 2004 The Mismanagment of Talent is a brilliant if a little dry take on the problem of having a vast number of graduates. The problem is not merely the stereotyped 'dumbed down' graduate with doss-about degree but that ultimately, the job market isn't set up to receive and make use of such numbers of educated people. Even Medical graduates can't find suitable places and despite the love of 'hard subjects' on this forum many peers with Science/Engineering degrees wound up in low grade jobs.

The authors of the book suggest that over the next decades 75% of new jobs will be in the low-paid, low-skill sectors. With New Labour's 50% target for sending people to University you're looking at masses of graduates who simply won't find a job that matches their talents and abilities.

Personally, the best solution, I feel, is to simply tell 14-16 year olds: 'Look, the world is freaking tough. You can pass many GCSEs, A Levels and degrees and end up living in a shared bedsit.' Yeah, it might depress the hell out of some them but at least that's more honest than the, 'do a degree and you'll be laughing' which is now 20 years out of date.

I agree with all the above, I think maybe I didn't put my point very well or maybe you read something into it that I didn't intend.

the job market isn't set up to receive and make use of such numbers of educated people

Exactly, that is the problem in a nutshell. But in the absence of meaningful training all one has avilable is education, and whilst we need a well-trained workforce we don't in fact require an entirely educated workforce. And so people who don't need degrees get degrees to qualify them for work that didn't used to need a degree and for which no real degree offers much specific help in anyway. Complete waste of time and I'm not surprised there are victims. I say keep education and training seperate. The first stage to sorting this out on a national level is recognising they are two different things, the distinction is not a philosophical nicety, I genuinely think it is a huge deal.

And so the best thing would be if it were possible to tell teenagers to think very carefully about what they want and don't want and follow the appropriate path. The "grab a laundry list of qualifications and hope for the best" attitude is, it is true, how things have to be at the moment (aided and abetted by a Blairite view of education as a class issue, this seems to be something Brown is keen to unwind), I think though there could be an alternative.

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The alternative would be to remove politics from education.

We should also remove the snobbery currently enjoyed by so called academics who look down upon those who they percieve as being lower than them because they have not sat bored for three years studying an obscure subject that will be of no use to them in life, and yet cost them a lifetimes work to repay the debts.

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