Where does the buck stop when it comes to education? Should the Government be responsible for educating people so that they are ready for work when they enter the job market? Or is it the responsibility of employers to educate and train their staff?
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has lashed out at the Government and the Sector Skills Development Agency saying that too many young people are coming out of school unable to read, write and add up to a standard that is professionally acceptable.
The FSB claims it is unfair of Prime Minister Tony Blair to blame SMEs for failing to invest enough in training employees. It also says there is little understanding of why training is so difficult to undertake for micro and small businesses.
The average FSB member has four employees, the organisation said, so structured off-site training would lead to 25% of the workforce being absent. It added that such a situation would be unsustainable for any business regardless of size
It added that businesses want to train their workers so that their processes become more efficient, profits can be increased and the workforce is satisfied to aid retention of staff.
Colin Willman, FSB national skills chairman, said, "Recently we have had everyone from the Prime Minister to the Sector Skills Development Agency (SSDA) claiming that small firms do not carry out enough training for their staff.
"To us this seems like a case of passing the buck. The prime minister was elected on the back of a promise to reform education but our members often have to pick up the pieces of the failing school system. New, school-leaver employees often cannot even read, write or add up to a decent standard.
"Further problems then arise because the organisations charged with assisting firms to provide skills training for their staff, such as the SSDA, do not appreciate the situation in which small businesses find themselves. They need training, tailored to their needs, in the workplace.
"This is not widely on offer at the moment and until it is the blame for lower levels of skills and training in small firms cannot be laid at the door of the employers. The government and their publicly-funded skills agencies have to get their acts together first."
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