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Employers should have more freedom to design and deliver their own training, says UKCES

Employers should be offered the opportunity to step up and develop the training their business needs for growth, according to a report published by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills.

The proposals would see employers given more freedom to design and deliver training including apprenticeships and work experience, working with their employees and training providers and supported by government investment.

The report, Employer ownership of skills, recommends in the long-term employers should be funded directly for apprenticeships and incentivised to provide work experience. It also advises that employer investment in adult training should be promoted by moving from qualification-based provider funding to employer-based investments and loans, and that public funding for skills development should complement investment by employers and employees.

The plans have been broadly welcomed by both the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Treasury. Last month investment of up to £250 million was pledged by the Prime Minister to pilot innovative employer-led training programmes.

Speaking to employers at the launch of the UKCES report this morning business secretary Vince Cable said: "Businesses are better placed than Government to design and deliver the skills they need to grow. That's why we are creating an employer-led skills system that directly responds to employers training needs, including for higher-level skills up to degree level.

We want to go further to create more effective partnerships between Government, training providers and employers. This report makes a valuable contribution to this process."

Chief secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, added: "Improving the skills of Britain's working age population is critical to securing sustainable economic growth in the long term. We need to create a skills system that is responsive to the needs of British businesses. That is why we have reformed the skills system to make it demand-led, including through routing funding through employers."

Charlie Mayfield, Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership and the UK Commission for Employment and Skills added: "Just over a year ago I became Chairman of the UK Commission for Employment and Skills. Over the last 12 months of meeting with a wide range of businesses, I have realised that we need to rely less on government setting the agenda, to give employers the freedom to take the lead working in partnership with employees, trade unions, colleges and training providers. I believe the proposals we are launching today will play an important part in that process, and I join with Vince Cable in encouraging businesses to come forward with ambitious plans that demonstrate what an employer-owned skills system is capable of achieving."

John Cridland, director-general of the CBI said: "I believe the most powerful way to achieve a world-class workforce is to change the way in which funding flows through the system, and to place responsibility and reward for investment more squarely with employers for programmes such as Apprenticeships."

TUC general secretary and UKCES commissioner Brendan Barber said: "Our education and training system must deliver the skills necessary to develop industries, boost employment and encourage prosperity. These pilots offer the opportunity to develop a social partnership approach that draws on the experience of many other countries where employers and unions, working together, have more influence on how training is delivered in the workplace."