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'Why delay employer duty to provide skills training? Do it now', says UCU

5 December 2006 | last updated: 14 December 2015

UCU has responded to the Leitch report - an independent review of the UK's long term skills needs - which was published today.

UCU joint general secretary Paul Mackney said: 'UCU agrees with the report that the case for action on skills is "compelling and urgent", and we cannot therefore understand why employers should be given until 2010 to implement a voluntary "pledge" to enable employees to attain basic skills and level 2 qualifications.

'We have no confidence that there is sufficient employer commitment to achieving this target, therefore the mentioned statutory entitlement to workplace level 2 training should be introduced not in 2010 but now. Such training should be provided in consultation with employee representatives.

'We don't want all the skills funding to be dependent on the constantly changing short term needs of employers. Further education is better equipped to judge both immediate and long term skills needs taking account of regional and national factors.

'We welcome the target of of 90% of adults at level 2 by 2020 but commitment to full level 2 provision must not be at the expense of courses such as adult education classes which can help unqualified students build confidence and progress towards qualifications. We want assurances from the chancellor that funding for Train to Gain will not be at the expense of the further education budget, especially the already savaged adult education.

'We welcome other elements of these proposal such as the new universal adult careers service. The right to an apprenticeship is also of course desirable, but only if it leads to real jobs - we have seen pseudo-apprenticeships fail before. We welcome the rolling out of level 3 entitlement.

'The overdependence on expansion of Train to Gain as the solution to skills shortages is a serious weakness. We don't want the tendering process for this to destabilise FE at a time when stability is needed to tackle the nation's skills needs.'