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‘Looming skills crisis’

Unite warning over sharp drop in workplace training
Ryan Fletcher, Friday, July 12th, 2019

Workplace training has dropped sharply according to new analysis by the TUC, which warned that the UK is facing a “looming skills crisis”.


Technological developments and increasing automation means that millions of workers will have to re-skill over the next two decades, the TUC said.


Anticipating the coming changes to the labour market, Unite has created a framework to negotiate key agreements around new technology that includes the re-skilling of workers, as part of its Work, Voice, Pay industrial strategy.


The TUC analysis found that on average workers receive 10 per cent less training per year than in 2011.


The trend was even worse for young workers, who are receiving 16 per cent less training a year – the equivalent of a day’s training – while for lower qualified workers the figure fell to 20 per cent.


The report builds upon an earlier study that found workplace training has decreased significantly during the last 20 years.


The Training Trends in Britain report also found that staff training courses are shorter, with 56 per cent lasting less than a week in 2018, compared to 34 per cent in 1996.


The report also revealed that of-the-job training has fallen from 73 per cent to 53 per cent over the same period.


Unionised employees were nearly twice as likely to access training than nonunion workers, with 37 per cent of union members saying they had undergone training within the last three months, compared to 22 per cent of non-unionised staff.


The TUC warned that massive adult education cuts and less training for workers are putting Britain on course for a huge skills shortage.


TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said, “The world of work is going to change massively over the coming years. If employers don’t increase workplace training, Britain faces a looming skills and productivity crisis.


“Everyone must be given the training they need to keep up with changes in technology.”


Unite executive officer Sharon Graham said strong unions are key to ensuring workers receive the training necessary to equip them for the future.


“We want to protect jobs and share the large profits that automation will make for employers – we want workers to get their ‘piece of the pie’. That includes training, re-training, proper apprenticeships and a shorter working week with no loss of pay .


“The key is to have a strong union that can negotiate key agreements around new technology. Unite have recently developed a model new technology agreement which creates a framework for doing this. It is being used by many of our shop stewards as the basis for negotiations around the country.”


Meanwhile at a print industry event in Parliament this week, Unite national officer Louisa Bull warned those in attendance that employers need to do more to address the issue.


Bull said, “Manufacturing is vital to the lifeblood of this country. In these uncertain times, we want to work with the industry to get the ship straightened. A lot has been said about skills and succession, yet employers continue to not use the apprenticeship levy and have not got succession plans in place.”


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