The Confederation of British Industry is backing a training league table for employers. The table would set out the record of individual businesses on training investment, as a way of stopping the introduction of a statutory training levy.
The league table initiative is part of a proposed CBI strategy intended to strengthen the voluntary training system which is expected to be formally unveiled in November. An earlier survey of CBI members revealed that 76 per cent are hostile to a statutory training levy. Yet more than half are concerned that the current training system will not produce an adequate trained workforce. Howard Davies, the outgoing director-general of the CBI, told employers at the CBI's first annual education and training conference: "It is important that we map what individual companies are achieving against education and training targets, and if this means league tables, so be it."
Companies will be encouraged to publish the details of their training investment, and Mr Davies added that the CBI is preparing guidance showing how this can be done.
The CBI also wants business to put its weight behind the new national education and training targets which were announced two weeks ago, and to reinforce these national objectives by introducing measurable sectoral targets which trade associations could promote among small and medium-sized companies, traditionally the least good at training. Mr Davies stressed the importance of an element of competition between sectors. Another initiative, which Mr Davies said is only at a preliminary stage of development, is a "business management standard" aimed at individuals and complementary to the government's institution-oriented Investors in People scheme. A CBI discussion paper circulated at the conference noted that only 24 per cent of top managers in the UK have degrees compared with 85 per cent in Japan and the United States.
Mr Davies said the CBI approach "is far more likely to deliver the goods than a statutory levy". But John Monks, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, insisted that a financial contribution should be paid by those employers who do not train to a minimum standard by offering workers at least five days off-the-job training per year.