Letter: Raising the standard

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The Independent Online
Sir: With regard to 'Time to scrutinise the shibboleth of training' (24 November), trying to evaluate an investment in training is impossible to quantify. It is a weakness of our accounting principles that while we can show investment in research and development and the value of work in progress, we cannot quantify investment in training and development. Many folk opine that until we can quantify that investment in books of account, training and development will stay in the wilderness.

In Information Technology (IT) we estimate that some pounds 300m is spent on commercial training in the UK annually, and that only 5-10 per cent of that is ever evaluated in a meaningful way. That is where the work of the National Council For Vocational Qualifications (NCVQ) and the Scottish Vocational Education Council (SCOTVEC) counts. Lead bodies made up of representatives of the industry sector that they aim to serve have set standards of performance for the activities vital to their industries. In IT we have published such a set of standards and assessment guidance on how they can be used by employers. The standards are essentially codification of best practice, so when they are used, the best becomes 'the standard'. The Management Charter Institute, on behalf of management, has published its standards.

If training is targeted around these standards, then at least it can be demonstrated that it is being taken to support the activities relevant to that industry. It may be that, as Mr Storey alludes, failure is more to do with the attributes of the people that undertake the training than the training itself.

Yours sincerely

GORDON EWAN

Chief Executive

Information Technology

Industry Training Organisation

London, W1

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