Trade and industry secretary Stephen Byers last week launched a stinging attack on the record of UK employers in training and development.
Speaking at the Confederation of British Industry annual conference in Birmingham, Byers described development of employees as the most important priority for UK companies.
`The key challenge for the future is not primarily about physical assets but about people,’ he said. `If we do not improve skills now, we will not be in business in five years’ time.’
He said it was `disturbing’ that new research findings show fewer than four in 10 employees receive training taking place outside their usual work routine, and that the average number of off-site training days fell from five a year to three between 1996 and 1998.
`These statistics should worry anyone in business. Time spent training is falling as the demand for skilled employees is growing,’ he told delegates.
Byers confirmed a series of new measures to tackle the problem, including good practice guidance on setting up corporate universities.
Training consultant Paul Kearns said: `Copying corporate universities is not the answer. If the Government had the courage of its convictions to prove there is a genuine return on any investment in training, companies would be queuing up to do it.’
John Robinson writes for Personnel Today magazine