Training’s in your hands

RECENTLY, I was asked by Age UK to say a few words at a seminar which they had arranged on the issue of training for care providers, a serious problem in our community with the growth of the number of people living longer.

I assume that my qualification for such an invitation is that I am very much of the generation that concerns Age UK although, hopefully, the need for care is not yet pressing. Not a statement made flippantly as I am only too well aware of the fragility that overtakes us all.

Perhaps, also, I qualify as chair of governors of a further education college that is a provider of training for carers – training which leads to the appropriate and essential qualifications for those following that profession.

The issues surrounding such training are little different from those of training and the provision of skills in general. Principally, it is about who pays. There has been a distinct move in the funding of training provision and the acquisition of skills recently, particularly in adult training, with the employer expected to foot the bill.

Many companies see this as further imposition by Government, a further charge for a service that was part of what colleges would offer either freely, at a small charge to students, or at a subsidised rate to companies. Full-cost training is now the order of the day. All companies need trained and skilled staff, so where is the problem? It seems to be mainly that if a business pays to train its staff, they will immediately leave and find employment elsewhere, perhaps with more pay. If companies offer uncompetitive pay rates, that will always be the case, so the response to that excuse is probably quite simple. Yet such companies have to replace staff and will eventually realise that expecting others to provide them with a ready-trained workforce will still come at a price. And there remain many training initiatives around skill provision if businesses are prepared to spend a little effort in seeking them out, particularly around incentives for apprenticeships. So a little less complaining and a little more self-help may result in real dividends.

The North East has a number of exemplary companies that put training at the top of their agenda, working closely with trainers to ensure that the outcome matches the need and seeing it as an essential investment in ensuring the competitiveness that keeps them ahead of the pack. It should come as no surprise that those companies are among the most successful in the region.

The situation concerning who pays is not likely to change – governments now expect us all to pay more. Better that businesses realise that the solution is in their own hands. The competition in business is unlikely to lessen and trying to ride on the coat tails of others is not the way to success in the 21st century. The old adage was “grow or die” perhaps now it should be “train or die”.

In the meantime, given my advanced years, I am keeping close to Age UK. They do appreciate the challenge and need to resolve the problem.

:: Bill Midgley

Paul Champion
Strategic Project Manager

Mobile: 07540 704920

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