Training cutbacks alleged by survey (CORRECTED)

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The Independent Online

CONSIDERABLE doubt has been cast on industry's ability to achieve Government-backed national education and training targets.

In contradiction to ministerial assertions, the state-funded conciliation service Acas has found that even the biggest companies are now cutting back on vocational training.

And a report from Industrial Relations Services published today* shows that only one in 35 employees are working towards National or Scottish Vocational Qualifications, by which the targets are measured. One of the targets is that half of all employees should be working towards the certificates by 1996.

The IRS Employee Development Bulletin also found that only one in 80 workers has achieved an Envy Queue in the 171 organisations in the survey.

Of the awards made, 24 per cent were at Level One, which involves elementary work skills and basic numeracy and literacy, 60 per cent at Level Two and most of the rest at Level Three - the old apprentice grade.

Employees at the lower end of the employment hierarchy are most likely to be participating. Senior and middle managers seldom participate.

Virtually half of these employers argued that one of the reasons for not using the qualifications was that they were not relevant to their needs. This flies in the face of the assertion by the National Council for Vocational Qualifications that relevant NVQ's are available at levels One to Four for 80 per cent of the working population.

The disappointing picture of training is reinforced in an unreported paragraph in the Acas annual report published last week.

It says the organisation 'saw indications that falls in investment in larger organisations might now be extending, for the first time for some years, to budgets for the training and development of employees.'

*Employee Development Bulletin. Industrial Relations Services, Eclipse Group Ltd, 18-20 Highbury Place, London N5 1QP.