West Yorkshire employers need to work harder to train staff, claim leaders

The leader of a West Yorkshire council has called on employers to do more to fund further training for their work forces, adding that the “culture” of training has to fundamentally change.

Monday, 18th November 2019, 5:00 pm

Bradford Council leader Susan Hinchcliffe was making the comments in her role as chair of a commission looking into how it can improve the work skills of those across the region.

It follows a West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) report which argues more should be done to motivate employers to train and retrain staff.

The meeting also heard that there was currently an “under-supply” of young people wanting to take up apprenticeships.

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Bradford Council leader Susan Hinchcliffe has called for a change in the "culture" of training.

Coun Hinchcliffe told the meeting: “People often don’t know the opportunities that are out there in terms of careers.

“Once somebody is in work and you’ve done your education at 19, that shouldn’t be it. You should be given the opportunity and encouraged to do learning throughout your life.

“With increased automation coming along, you can no longer expect to stay in the same career, without training, for the rest of your life.

“I have had to do additional training, which I have had to pay for myself, but not everyone has the finances to be able to do that.

“Our employers need to do more training with our workforce.

“To increase our productivity, spend more money training in work and more money on research and development. Training should be a core part of doing business – as a society we need to change the culture of how we approach training – it needs to be an absolute fundamental of doing business.”

The future ready skills commission was set up earlier this year, with the aim of looking into how the economy can be better served by skills in the region.

A WYCA report which went before members of the organisation’s overview and scrutiny committee has a list of 10 “emerging recommendations” being explored by the commission.

One of which read: “Employers need to be motivated to train and re-train staff and support progression, particularly those in lower paid work to gain higher level skills.”

It also added that more needed to be done to help workers get better information about training and work, and that demand needed to increase for adult learning.

Another WYCA report raised the issue of apprenticeships in the region, adding that measures put in place to encourage more people into apprenticeships did not seem to be working.

Following a meeting into the issue earlier this year, the report added: “The committee concluded that the regional and national picture regarding apprenticeships was bleak. The expected upswing in apprenticeships, at larger organisations in particular, following the introduction of the apprenticeship levy had not materialised.”

Coun Hinchcliffe told Friday’s meeting: “There is still an under-supply of apprentices, in terms of people wanting to be an apprentice.

“There are myths about what apprenticeships are, and there needs to be a bit of myth-busting on apprenticeships.

“Employers would say they need to be up for the job too.”

She added that a wider debate needed to take place into whether schools were equipping pupils with the skills to enter the working world.

Panel member and Wakefield councillor David Jones said: “Engagement with schools has been an issue. It is a period of a slow process, careers education guidance is important.

“This needs to be backed up with work experience – it will help them understand what contribution they can make.”