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Skills Strategy will further weaken employers' role in identifying skills needs, says CIPD

The new Skills Strategy promises yet more quangos that will further marginalise employers in the skills system, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

The Government's White Paper puts regional development agencies at the heart of the skills system along with Local Area Agreements, Multi Area Agreements, Single Integrated Strategies, local authorities, the Skills Funding Agency and the Young People's Learning Agency - all of which have barely any employer input. In addition, there will be a reduction in the number of sector skills councils, which were only introduced five years ago, and which are employer-led organisations designed to put forward the views and needs of business to the Government.

Tom Richmond, skills adviser, CIPD, said: "For all the talk of having a ‘demand-led' skills system, the Government is clearly more interested in giving extra powers to quangos, government departments and local authorities than it is in giving individuals and employers control of how and where funding is spent.  Until the Government realises that meddling quangos and ministers are the problem, not the solution, the wastage and inefficiency within our skills system will continue unabated.

"Our concern is that with every major announcement, the role of leaders and managers within companies is being weakened as quangos and civil servants take on alarming levels of responsibility in terms of identifying skills needs and addressing them - which is surely what employers should be tasked with."

The CBI took a more positive view of the new strategy. Susan Anderson, director of education a skills, said: "This White Paper is a step in the right direction. Improving the skills of the workforce will be critical to the UK's economic recovery and future growth.

"There are tough decisions ahead for the Government, but it is right to focus on delivering valuable skills such as science, technology and engineering, and high-skilled apprenticeships. Giving apprenticeships UCAS points should enable more people to progress to higher education.

"Business will welcome the attempts to simplify the overly-complex system of organisations delivering skills training and support. The real test for any new system will be whether it delivers the high-quality training and skills that firms and the economy need."