Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Loan voicesOn 1 Jun 2000 in Personnel Today TheGovernment is introducing a system of industry-based transferable loans as partof its drive to overcome skills gaps. NTOs are responsible for developing thescheme, which is being piloted by the gas industry. Alison Thomas canvassesopinions on its valueAndyPowellChief executive, NTO National CouncilThetraining loan scheme should not be seen in isolation and is one of a number of ideaswhich NTOs are testing with employers in different industries.Theaim is to overcome the two main hurdles which discourage employers frominvesting in training – insufficient cashflow upfront and uncertainty overreturn for investment. Moneyis loaned at an attractive rate and repaid in instalments after successfulcompletion of the training. If an employee moves to another company duringpayback time, either the employee or their new employer takes overresponsibility for outstanding payments.Towork effectively it must bring clear benefits both to the business and theindividual, who is rewarded by a salary increase. It also requires commitmentfrom everyone involved. Thisis not a scheme imposed from outside. It is a partnership between Government,employers and individuals working together to address a shared problem anddevelop practical solutions. No two schemes will be the same as each one willbe tailored to fulfil the needs of the industry concerned.FrankCorriganStrategic planning manager, Gas Industry NTOWhenit was a nationalised company, British Gas charged a premium price for apremium product and invested some of the profits in training. Withprivatisation, however, the industry has become fragmented and with thepressures of competition, training has been neglected. Only128 new engineers joined the council for registered gas installers (CORGI) lastyear. This compares with an annual intake of 2,500 apprentices under thenationalised British Gas.Employersare concerned, but they cannot tackle the problem on an individual basis astraining is a drain on scarce financial resources and the poaching rate ishigh. The training loan scheme is an attempt to address this. It is not apanacea that will solve all the industry’s problems, but one small feature in acollection of initiatives designed to reverse the negative training cycle. Eachinitiative in itself is modest, but we hope that cumulatively they will firepeople’s imagination as the pieces of the jigsaw come together.MichaelKitsonEconomic adviser to the Institute of Manufacturing, University ofCambridgeWerecently reported on work by the Economic and Social Research Council’s Centrefor Business Research of the University of Cambridge, which shows that labourturnover is generally low, particularly in highly-skilled occupations. Thissuggests that although in some areas poaching may be a problem, it is not auniversal one.Ithink this initiative may bring some benefit in certain occupations and sectors.But to overcome the major training shortfall, the Government needs to look atall the interrelationships between industrial policy, labour market policy andmacroeconomic policy; and the way these influence firms’ behaviour.Whentrading conditions are difficult – for example when sterling is over-valued –training is often an early victim of the squeeze on profitability. Smallercompanies are especially vulnerable. The CBR’s research showed that manycompanies with fewer than 500 employees are spending little or nothing ontraining.Thiswill remain a major concern as it is widely recognised that increased levels oftraining are essential to improve industrial performance and build a strongknowledge-based economy.FelicityBridgewaterHead of training & development, Granada MediaWedebated the proposal as an industry at Skillset’s – our NTO – board meetingsand decided to defer from the pilot, although we will be watching with interestto see how it develops.Ourcircumstances are unusual in that over 60 per cent of people in the industryare freelance and do not have a regular employer. Nevertheless,the industry is collaborating more and more on training, so in time it may beappropriate. But it is not a priority at the moment.TheAudia Visual Industries Training Group – comprising senior industryrepresentatives led by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and Skillset– is currently conducting a review into the needs of the broadcast/televisionindustry across the UK. When we have the outcomes we will be looking in moredetail at possible applications for the idea.AlisonFordDevelopment & training manager, Southampton University Hospitals NHSTrustTheidea sounds attractive in theory and might be appropriate for those of ourstaff whose jobs require vocational qualifications, such as healthcareassistants and medical technical officers.Itcould prove complex, however. Unlike more homogeneous industries, we lose staffto a whole raft of employers including the private health sector, socialservices and the voluntary sector. Any reciprocal agreement would have toinvolve all of these as well as small independent businesses like nursinghomes, which don’t operate as a single industry.Itwould be even more complicated in the case of trainees who move on to jobswhich only partially match the ones they have left. Would we be able toestablish an effective framework for negotiating how much of the cost should bepicked up by the new employer? Or would it become a bureaucratic nightmare? Related posts:No related photos.