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Employer-led training can close skills gap

Employer-led training can close skills gap

Association of Employment and Learning Providers

2 min read Partner content

Employer-led training should be rolled out across the country, according to a new inquiry.

Professor Lorna Unwin of the Institute of Education led a four-month investigation of the role of Group Training Associations (GTAs).

It said GTAs are "under-valued" and whilst they are already well-established in some parts of the country, particularly the North of England and the Midlands, they have only a patchy presence in other parts of the country.

"Group Training Associations should be central to the Government’s plans for economic growth, rebalancing the economy, increasing the stocks of technician and higher level skills, and the expansion and improvement of apprenticeships,” said Professor Unwin.

“GTAs play a strategic role both geographically and sectorally by monitoring and meeting the challenge posed by skills gaps and shortages. Their focus on specific areas of skill means that they have a great depth of knowledge and capacity to develop occupational expertise.”

GTAs offer local solutions to the workforce and business development needs of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). They also provide large employers with consistently high quality training and help them to build capacity in their supply chains.

The report recommends that GTA England and local GTAs should build relationships with individual trade unions too. This should enable them to reach more SMEs, employees and individual learners.

It also recommends that the definition of a GTA should be clarified and that a code of ethics should be drawn up to govern their activities and that GTAs should be clearly distinguished from the small number of Apprenticeship Training Agencies (ATAs) established by the previous Labour government.

ATAs concentrate on Level 2 (intermediate) apprenticeships and do not have the same levels of expertise and capacity in vocational education and training as GTAs, the report says.

Employers also tend to have a different relationship with ATAs, using them as employment agencies.

A spokesman for the Association of Employment and Learning ProvidersAELP said:

"Professor Unwin has made some important recommendations which should help secure a diverse provider base in the skills sector that provides employers with genuine choice in looking for support for their training.

"The professor makes some interesting observations about college sub-contracting arrangements and associated management fees. AELPis now working closely with the Association of Colleges to draw up an accord to eradicate poor value agreements while safeguarding a legitimate business practice."

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